We are unschoolers. Basically this means that learning comes through life experiences. We deal with math and economics, even language arts (reading/writing), when we go grocery shopping. We discuss history when visiting the different sections of the local art museum (Egyptian section – Ancient History, Middle Ages, etc) and also cover various world religions and mythos.
So is it any great surprise that we learn three digit subtraction by playing Mario Kart? Or more specifically, team racing on Mario Kart?
Emily and I always play as a team. For just being seven, she is rather competitive, and going up against her mom as an opponent (and getting beat, I’m still way better at the game than she is) is simply too much. So when we play together, we are on the same team, usually the blue team, fighting against the big bad red team with tooth and nail.
For a long time I would do a quick calculation – “Darn it, they are in the lead by five points!” But I have slowly been building on it. “Hey, let’s write those two numbers down and look at what the difference is!” I say, leading the way to the large new blackboard wall I have painted in the homeschool room just two rooms away.
I write the bigger number on top, the smaller on the bottom and we go through the process of subtracting each column. “Wow, we are ahead by 16 points!” We high five each other and race back to the game. Next we can work on seeing patterns, or progress.
“Why look, we were behind by five points in the first race, but now we have pulled ahead by eight points. So we managed to score 13 points more in the second race!”
Again and again I am reminded that THIS is the way to learn for her. If she smells a workbook or “lesson” in the air, her defenses go up. But if I make it fun, a purely informative “hey, this is cool” kind of thing, she is all over it like flies on shh…well…like a bee on pollen.
Learning at its best. And racing with her is pretty fun too.