Unschooling, Math, Older Kids

Unschooling Q & A


How do you handle Math with Older Kids?



Truthfully, unschoolers handle math for big kids the same way we handle it for younger children. They follow their interests. They play games. They need math skills to do some of the activities they want to do - so they learn what they need.

When my kids were teens, I'd sometimes get panicky about them not knowing various math skills. I'd frantically toss a workbook their way - mainly because my fear was getting the better of me. They'd reluctantly oblige. And what I learned was that none of it "stuck."

What DID stick was the real life application of math.


  • Learning percentages from sales or tipping.
  • Learning about estimating time and distance.
  • Math skills needed for building or cooking or any other life skill.

Then when they got jobs, they learned about taxes and savings and credit cards and interest rates.

Their developing skills - eventually becoming obvious to me - weren't because of any workbook I had tossed at them. So I stopped making them do pages in a workbook just because I was fearful.

And actually, seeing their growth made me less fearful. And, of course, talking with other unschoolers over time.


"Higher Level Math"

The usual next question is often about Algebra or higher level math skills.

And I'm here to tell you that everyone doesn't need it the way we've been conditioned to believe. Especially as a younger or mid-teen.

When they DO need it, they'll get it. And "getting it" at 17, 18, 19, is SOO much better! Because they WANT to learn it. AND they have a ton of experience using math from all that daily life!

We're all living in Math Word Problems!

Unschoolers step into college classes all the time without without years of "prep."
And they have no problem with it.

Usually community college - and universities - have assessment tests teens can take. Even if a teen's math skills are lacking (or their testing skills aren't up to speed), the college will simply plug them into the class that fits their scores. They may need to take what some would call "remedial" or "developmental" classes before they move on to College Algebra. These classes are often full of students who DID go to high schools and still did not score well on the assessment test.

Unschoolers often do well in these classes because a) they want to be there, and b) they don't have any negative baggage around math!

My teens' first exposure to Algebra happened in Community college.
They told me,

"All you have to do is listen, you learn it, and then you take the test on Friday."

This applies to any subject.

No Need to Shift Away from Unschooling in Teen Years!



Creating Confidence Membership Group: Parents of Teens 
(Get on the waitlist, the doors open on January 1st. Sometimes it helps to have other parents around us who are also unschooling teens. It's really wonderful to bounce idea off each other AND have access to all the coaching resources of the membership.)

Collection of Math Ideas for Unschoolers

Unschooling Guide: Learning Math as Unschoolers

We've been so convinced that Math has to be taught the way we learned it in school. If you stop to think about how many people have math anxiety - maybe we should NOT duplicate those ways!

This Unschooling Guide helps us examine all the way Math moves through our lives, how we might resist it - and how to over come that. This 30-page full-color mini-magazine will walk you through how to help your child learn to use math in a way that REALLY works!

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