Hi, so there is a woman in one of my online groups I've gotten to know a bit and I have sort of followed her social media with some jealousy. They are radical unschoolers and are always in nature and doing cool things and going cool places. Anyway, she and I were chatting via messenger when she mentions her soon to be sixth grader HAS NEVER DONE MATH. I nearly spit my coffee out all over the screen. There is part of me that is so entrenched in certain ideas about education that I cannot wrap my mind around it at all. The child sort of naturally learned how to add and subtract just by doing things, and the child knows a lot about measuring, because she is an avid sewer who makes her own clothes. That's it though. Never picked up a math book. No arithmetic. ZERO. I asked about fractions and percents because it seems like you'd need that for clothes to fit right, and the mom said she does a bit of guesstimation and understands simple fractions like half and third, etc.
Why am I sharing this? Two reasons, one, the mom has asked for help, and two, I think it'll be interesting to see the progress of this child. Her other children just eventually gravitated towards an interest in Arithmetic, and she worked with them, sans curricula, according to what they needed to know via a lot of oral math and math with c-rods and stuff. One of her older kids became interested enough to self-teach lower level Algebra and Geometry. Otherwise, her kids are all free spirit types, attempting to move out into the world in crafty and artsy careers. This child though shows not one iota of interest and the Mom is beginning to worry. She's asked for advice and ideas. I'm not an unschooler, I don't even have any idea how that works. I tend to be eclectic but a user of curriculum and we are basically a mom-led and organized homeschool.
First, what would you tell her? I want to be nice and not dwell on the "I can't believe you didn't make your kids do math" thing. She's given me a lot of helpful wisdom and advice in parenting and schooling over the years. The mom has said this child is an exceptional reader, consumes a lot of high quality literature, reads a lot of nonfiction regarding animals and their care, various sewing manuals, and a ton of things about clothes and fashion design. She is also interested in art and architecture and spends a lot of time in their local museum in the portrait and abstracts galleries. They have all been natural spellers, and picked up most of their grammar through usage and good lit. I don't have any reason to suspect (at this point) that the girl is anything other than neurotypical. Is there anything to tell the mom to consider besides pick up a textbook and get to it? I was thinking of recommending Strayer-Upton.
Second, as I sat here thinking about this, I wondered what I would do if I found myself in charge of a middle schooler with no Math at all under their belt. I don't know if there is anything like a one or two year long basic arithmetic course. I'm wondering if there is some kind of comprehensive Arithmetic that just takes all of what you'd teach a kid normally stretched out over 6 or 7 years and puts it into an all-in-one course. I guess I'd have to find a adult text or something. Does anyone here know of something like this?
I am really freaked out by this. I don't know why. I guess I feel like it is a mistake, to not have certain age kids learn certain things whether they want to or not. But if it is, then I guess I'd want someone to be gentle with me as I learned from my mistake and decided to change. What do you guys think?