Math Club

In an effort to follow through with a New Year’s Resolution to get out in the homeschool community more, I signed Golfer up for a Math Club. Today was the first day, and I packed the kids up so we could meet the other club members at a coffee shop for a little math fun. Naturalist brought a book to read (“math and fun just don’t mix” is what I read her eyeroll to mean when I asked if she’d like to try it too), and Sassy toted a her favorite bug sort game.

I drove down the road a little apprehensive. So far on my journey from public school to homeschool to unschool, I’ve stayed mostly with people I already know and love. Many people assume that if you meet one homeschooler, you’ve met them all; but anyone who IS a homeschooler realizes that they are part of a very diverse group of people. Some people do it for religion, some people do it for more control over their schedule, some people do it for more control over their kid, some people do it for more control over the curriculum, some people do it for more opportunities for their kid…etc., etc.

I consider myself a rather secular unschooler, meaning that my curriculum is determined by the interests of my kids and I’m not doing it for any religious reasons. There are plenty of Christian Homeschoolers around here, and while I have no problem with that per se, I did get a little freaked out when I attended a homeschooling skate day last Valentines Day and found myself surrounded by scores of people with shirts that read “I (heart) Jesus”. There are also lots of serious homeschoolers around here who follow a rigorous schedule of latin, math, two languages, science, English, music, and a few more things. I have lots of admiration for them, but am also freaked out by people who get freaked out about taking part of their day to go do something fun like go to the zoo, museum, bowling, hiking, or any of the 034895034895 other things there are to do out and about in this area. One time I met up with a homeschooling group at the Science Museum and felt a little out of place when I was the only one without a dozen worksheets for my kids to fill out while walking through the exhibits. And then one of the other moms got mad at me and my hooligan kids for talking to much and disturbing her kid ‘at work’.

But past experiences shouldn’t make me any less willing to try out new things, so that’s why I found myself pulling up to the coffee shop ready to meet a bunch of homeschooling people I didn’t know.

At first, I was worried. These people meant business, and my hopes of Golfer playing fun dice, probability, and other games evaporated. But Golfer looked like he was interested, so I kept quiet. They played a game of bingo, where the woman called out math questions and then the kids covered up the answer to try and get bingo. There was quite an age distribution in players and the rule was “NO TELLING OTHER PEOPLE THE ANSWERS because IT MIGHT HELP THEM WIN INSTEAD OF YOU!” the woman instructed. First question: “Half of 50”. OK, Golfer knows that one. Next question: “9 times 8” Uh oh…Golfer won’t know that! Too bad…no one will help him and it’s off to the next question: “Square root of 49” Dear lord, let’s get out of here! But no, he sticks with it, doesn’t ask for the answer but asks, “What is a square root?” which she answers “any number times itself”. It still won’t help…he doesn’t know what 7 times 7 is…she realizes that half the kids there don’t have a strong grip on multiplication and relents. “Forget that…give me the square root of 9.” Golfer thinks, and manages to get that one.

This goes on for 15 minutes…lots of square roots and multiplication without manipulatives or helping. I caught Golfer’s eye one time and gave the universal thumb sign for “is this Good? or Bad?” and he gave me thumbs up back, so I kept my quiet.

Then they broke up into groups and played fun dice games. The one that I really liked was where you give a kid a whole heap of die and then have them roll two of them. If a two and a five come up, then you model ‘two times five’ with five dice by turning them over to each have two dots on top. Two, five times. Then the kid counts it up to get the answer. Golfer really liked that!

At the end we walked out and I wondered if Golfer would decide he didn’t want to go back next week. Instead he gave it two thumbs up and exclaimed, “I need to go home and learn my square roots!”


10 Responses

  1. You my friend have the patience of a saint. One of the many reasons why I love ya!

  2. Groan.
    I dunno.
    Well, cept with the And then one of the other moms got mad at me and my hooligan kids for talking to much and disturbing her kid β€˜at work’.” part. That made me howl.
    Prob’ly I laugh at all the wrong places! πŸ™‚

    Upon further thought…
    I think it’s a Really Great Thing.
    Shows that you’ve raised your children to believe in themselves, and Golfer feels challenged and like it’s just some new way to play…. I’ll just go home and figure this thing out, and I’ll kick a — Oh, maybe we don’t say that here. πŸ™‚

    You get my point. They believe in themselves, and instead of feeling threatened, he feels confident and competent, and embraces being challenged.
    A really remarkable thing.

  3. We have struggled a bit too, finding homeschool groups that were comfortable. I always have to remind myself that I’m wherever I am, for Owen, not me and if it’s working for him, we stay. It is difficult sometimes!

  4. Holy smokes! You’ve had some nasty experiences. I

    No unschooling groups in your area? Maybe you could start one…I bet there are some other closet unschoolers out there that would love to find you.

  5. Have you heard of Blue Skies? Check them out at .

    I hope you find the right people for you. It’s so important to find your tribe.

  6. I laughed, not because I think it’s funny but because the whole thing is so absurd! This is why I hesitate all the time meeting up with people. We went to a museum the other day and met people there. Rhi wanted to go and have a play day with their daughter, but first the other mom made all the kids promise to do all of their homework that night and finish up on Saturday. The Hell? What is the problem with just letting children creatively play? Rhi just kind of just looked at me like “What??”

    I’m sharing because we constantly run into that. I would have had a hard time watching and I hate it when people cover their children’s mouth. Argh! I think though that the Golfer walked away feeling excited and stimulated because of the way that you have raised him. It’s the different view point that makes all the..well..difference. I say as long as the Golfer likes it, let it go.

  7. Hi Tiffany, It’s Ann from NICHE. I’ve been perusing your blog since you joined cuz I’m nosy πŸ˜‰ and I just have to comment. I hope you’ll keep checking us out. Niche is a bunch of play loving mamas. Honestly, that’s the standard description I hear about NICHE. We’re the Play group. These darn academic classes just get in the way of playdates…that’s my opinion. πŸ™‚

    And, I doubt you’ll see a single ‘I heart Jesus’ shirt at the V-day party, but you never know with this eclectic gang.

    I promise if you go to the museum with me, I won’t have a single worksheet and my children only get scolded for knocking the walker out from under the wobbly old people.


    Anyhoo, I hope you don’t mind me plugging NICHE, but I think you’ll fit right in. It’s a rockin’ group of fun and friendly families who like to play and who learn in life.

    We’re hoping to join you at math club someday soon. I’ll be brining my Family Math book and Math Games by AL abacus.


    P.S. I’d hoped to join you at the pool last week, but we had a playdate that day, um, I mean we spent 6 hours at the kitchen table perfecting our square roots.

  8. I think there is something to be sad for “competitive learning” (ie, she know’s something I don’t! I’d better find out what that’s about and learn something new, too!), but it is definitely not for everyone! I’m glad it worked out for the golfer. πŸ™‚

  9. Oops… that should have been “something to be said” and not “something to be sad”… man, I need a break from the computer.

  10. nice freudian slip, there. : P

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