Ok, I know that sounds weird to some, but this is how my kids learn to do those "basic"things. This is how I think all people really learn. You have to really want to know it for it to stick. Here is the story of how we ended up doing algebraic equations at Red Lobster....
Yesterday was a regular Monday for us. Joshua and Justin woke up 10 minutes before we needed to leave for D and D club :) (And if you don't know this about our family by now, 5 out of 7 days a week we have someone here or my kids are somewhere at a sleepover.) So, I took the boys to D and D and came home. Mara was at the computer all day writing her story. Every once in a while she would ask about another country. When it became obvious that my terrible public school education had not taught me to spew facts about Greenland or New Zealand, she was off to the world map and on the Internet to find it out for herself. Can't wait to read this story!! Willow was busy on Spore all day, running between the computer and her flat traveler crafts she has been working on. She wants to trade with someone in China :)
That afternoon I went and picked up the boys and brought them home. They of course were starving and we of course were out of everything. So, I made some homemade pizza and some tortillas so they could finish off some queso from the Halloween Party. They watched The Love Guru and played Monopoly on the x-box. Justin went home a little later and Josh went to work on finding his missing wallet. Which, I have not been too happy about because of his debit card being in his wallet. I know it is in his room somewhere, just need to get the courage to go in there and "help" him look :) Anyway, this is where the algebra starts to come into play ( well, other than then kids using it in their D and D play every week)
Mara had a Webinar for girl scouts. I know, how weird?? It was actually pretty cool. Since Utah is one council, they have made most of the training available through these webinars so that girls that live in the middle of freaking nowhere can get the necessary training. Mara has actually already done the training she did last night. She went to camp back in August and did it. But,....GSUSA had to change the girl scout program and now she has to take it again. This training was to become a Program Aid or a PA. PA's help out a lot with council and service unit activities and in Mara's case lead troop meetings. At the end of the webinar Mara had to send in a questionnaire. It was all about what kind of a leader you think you are, a Beaver, A Lion, An Otter or a Golden Retriever. I can't remember all the details of them but you can sort of get the picture. Mara is a Golden Retriever and I am a Beaver. Well, one of the questions asked who are the leaders in your life and what type are they. She wrote that the leaders in her life were me, because I organize lots of activities with lots of kids, Kathy, because she is so willing to share her talents with her, and her sister Aspen because she was a girl scout and earned her silver award and went to college early. I thought that was so sweet!!!
By this time, David was home and we were all starving. Again, no food,,,,,I need to go shopping desperately. So, we decided to go to Red Lobster. We basically had the place to ourselves :) Mara started having a panic that she would not ever go to college. :) She was thinking a lot about Aspen and heard us talking to her the night before about a paper she was writing that was giving her grief. This is how Mara reacts to things.....way after the fact when you are so confused and trying to figure out what the hell she is so upset about....we are just eating salad for goodness sake!
We asked her why she thought she would never go and she was like..... "Algebra, it's algebra...I don't know how to do it....I will have to go into class and take a test and I will fail" Well, we assured her that she would not go to Algebra 101 and have to take a test on the fundamentals of algebra the first day :) We also explained to her that depending on the road she travels she may not even have to take the class. She pulls out her sketchbook and demands we write algebraic equations for her to solve. David and I are looking at her like what...we are eating here?? So, Josh grabs the sketchbook and jots down a few. She answers them after a few "rules of the game" explained and we enjoy our endless shrimp feasts (well, all except Mara who decided to get crab legs and had to have the waitress come over with gloves on and crack them all open) Then Willow starts in wanting math in her book. Willow did say, I only want math like Mara because I will go to college too but I will never go to school :) So, we spent the evening jotting basic math in Willow's book and algebraic equations in Mara's.
Her fears are calmed.....Basic Algebra mastered in an evening over crab legs and shrimp!
I think the funny thing in all of this is when did Josh learn algebra??? I guess D and D club :)
I love unschooling. Why would you waste all those years cramming useless facts into your kids? I just don't get it. It started me thinking about the Salt Lake Home Educator meeting I went to, and those people getting up at 8 am to have "school". Why?? I would just send my kids to school. Why don't people trust their kids enough to figure is all out? Josh made me laugh. When I told him about one gal's schedule....Monday they do communication, Tuesday they do History, Wednesday they do math.....etc etc... He started screaming "No, No, it is Wednesday and I forbid you to learn about History. You cannot learn something that was talked about yesterday!!!" He so gets it :)
I mean, I totally believe you need to do what works for you and your family, but if you really knew it was so simple would you want all that time back you spent sending your kids off to an institution or sitting them down to learn algebra or geography because you thought it was a good idea???