Unschooler Update – Algebra

I was recently bemoaning with some of my home-educating friends about the lack of well-seasoned homeschooling and unschooling family blogs. Many of the homeschooling groups that I join or follow or fall upon are full of parents of young children (often preschooled aged) just starting on their journey. I had always thought that “once the kids are big,” this must give us homeschooling parents more time– my time— in which we could do things, such as blogging-right? So then where are the old timers? Are they just so over the years and decades of homeschooling that rehashing it all now is out of the question? Well, my ‘my time’ theory was completely faulty as, you know, this parenting thing never ends and many of us simultaneously have teens or even adults and school-aged or even preschoolers. So, this morning I’m ignoring all my kids and other responsibilities for a few minutes to do this unschool update. You’re welcome in advance.

Recently my 10 and 13 year olds have taken up interests in math. The 10 y.o seems to have simply recognized that he doesn’t wholly “get” all his math facts and has been sorting through the processes and doing lots of lapbook pages. Or maybe his interest was partially sparked by the 13 y.o’s more intent-filled drive. Among other things, the eldest has interests in engineering, chemistry, aerodynamics and space travel. By “interests” I mean he reads (studies) these topics daily. He is a wealth of nod-along-to information. And since he has been looking up information about acquiring certification and degrees for various work related to these subjects, he has learned that he’ll need a lot of math knowledge to do the kind of work that he is interested in.

I fully admit to initially having slightly more than minor feelings of dread about having to relearn all this stuff. As much as I loved Algebra when I was his age, I haven’t used it. I don’t remember much of it, I don’t want to remember– I rather exert that energy elsewhere, following my interests. Greedy mama, eh? No, I know I am not. And I quickly remembered that my personalized style of pedagogy doesn’t require that I do it all. We can find a tutor, but thus far that is completely unnecessary.

Eldest Son not only has a bunch of lapbooks to work with; he also has Youtube, Google, Wikipedia, and Brainpop is still our first go to for how-to. The kids even like to take the Brainpop tests to see if they ‘get it.’ We also found a standardized test online for him to take so that he could identify what areas he needed to learn or improve in; not to my surprise, he got a high B without having had any formal math for at least a year. He sort of questions and discusses things out loud at me a lot, asking me about pi, formulas, processes and whatnot, but not really expecting answers– just thinking, processing out loud before he goes online to search exactly or closer to what it is he really needs to know.

After having read so much theory and other’s accounts of  homeschooling, unschooling and autodidacticism, as well as my own experiences, it’s exciting to actually watch the process unfold.

Further reading: Here’s a really lovely blog from a homeschool graduate. Go peek the other side.


4 thoughts on “Unschooler Update – Algebra

  1. Stay encouraged!
    I’ve been homeschooled since 4th grade, and I’m so thankful! It’s a blessing to be able to learn what you’re interested in and blossom in that.
    My younger brother has never been to school, and he’s used classic McGuffy readers for many years.


    1. Thanks so much Mia! It really means a lot and your blog really is so beautiful and inspiring, a bunch of us are fangirling over it on facebook 😉

  2. Asalaamu Alaikum Brooke,

    My name is Colin Christopher and I’m the Blogger/Webmaster for Inside Islam (http://insideislam.wisc.edu/), a new-media initiative that seeks to challenge misconceptions and stereotypical perceptions about Islam and Muslims worldwide through a collaboration between UW-Madison’s nine area and international studies centers, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the public.

    I love your blog, and am interested in you writing a guest post. If you have interest, please let me know (feel free to email me at blogislam@insideislam.wisc.edu).

    The content can be new, or possibly a revision of your great piece on privilege..


    1. Walaikum Asalam,

      Thanks Colin, your project is looking very exciting there too, masha Allah. I’m sorry I won’t be able to find the time to contribute–already in over my head–but maybe Fatima, another contribute to the carnival who is active in dealing with her privilege could? http://luckyfatima.wordpress.com/ Otherwise you’re also welcome to do some link love. Unfortunately it is true that White people–including Muslims–are much more likely to listen to other White people about racism, but that is certainly counter to Islam. I encourage you to seek out the voices of Muslims of Color for your project, there are several linked into the carnival who have spoken a great deal about oppression within the US Ummah and they still need to be heard.

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