Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Unschooled Timestables

The other day J-Man (10) and I were discussing timestables for no particular reason (honestly- why were we discussing them??).

I commented that most kids his age in school would know their timestables by now, but that it wasn't a worry for me because he was able to work them out, and if he ever decided they would be useful to know quickly- he would work out a way to memorise them.

He said he wasn't sure he could work them out, so I asked him if he could work out 7x8.

Veyr quickly he supplied the answer, and I was mroe than a little amazed.

I asked him how he came to it.

"Oh- it was easy Mum- I just added 16 to 40."

"But why 40?", I asked, because I couldn't think what was obvious about that at all.

"Half of 80", he answered.

We dug a little deeper, and this is what I found.

When presented with the sum 7x8, my unschooled 10 year old multiplied 8x10, halved it, and added 16 which he knew was 2x8.

10 x 8 = 80
80/2 = 40
2x8= 16
5x8 + 2x8= 7x8
= 56

Then he floored me by saying he wasn't any good at maths, it isn't really his "thing".


Mama Teaching 2 said...

Hee hee...that is awesome! I wasn't very good at math in school because I felt so pressured and was very ashamed if I couldn't do it as well as the others in the class. My 10 year old, Eli does math the same way yours does. I mean they didn't teach it that way in school, you just had to know it by memorizing. They didn't care if I actually knew what I was doing. Good for you and your family! I am so proud of him! He didn't need anyone to tell him to do it, and it did it better on his own.

Shell (in NZ) said...

Hiya MT2 (lol) is amazing isn't it? I have read about stuff like this, and haven't worried (overly) about timestables...but to actually see it happening is fantastic. I think there is a lot more use in being able to devise your own solution to a problem than being lightning-fast at 7x 8 (or anything else for that matter).

Shell (in NZ) said...

Also...I meant to add a quote from my friend Cally (who has 4 grown usnchooled boys)...I won;t get it exactly right, since I'm not in my own house with it on my noticeboard.

"Why must they learn timestables? If they have a use for them in their lives, they will learn them...otherwise, why would you want them to learn something they have no use for? Is it good for the soul or something?"

Melissa van Boekhout said...

Hi< glad to find your blog. We are thinking of unschooling ou r children starting with eldest 4 1/2 currently. Have been looking for unschooling nz blogs/community. Love the maths. That is what I learned not to do at school. Learn times tables by heart or you suck (at 10), so I consequently have a mind blank I can't get over when asked something to do with numbers by anyone. Have added you to my reading list, that ok?

Kiwi_Mama said...

Well done that is some pretty amazing brain J has. But what a pity he feels this way about his abilties when he so obviously has a naturally mathematical brain. I wonder if this is because he has never really had to measure his mathematical progess or success on a regular basis. Then again such a thing could just as well be to a childs detriment as it could be beneficial. All I know is my kids like to measure their progress.

Ruth said...

That is awesome! Have you done any times tables with him before for him to have a foundation of that? You must have felt soo good! He can work anything out if he has his own methods like that, timestables are irrelevant.

Colleen said...

Hey Shell. :) I'm just checking in and wondering when you'll be back!

Rana said...

I just found your blog. I think that is amazing. My 6 year old does math the same way. I'm going to have to have him teach me how to do math.

Can't wait to check out more of your blog.