Natural Learning: Maths

I sometimes get the impression, when I try to explain our natural learning approach to education, that people think this doesn’t include literacy and numeracy. That it’s all well and good to follow their interests and let them learn things in their own time, but there are some things that children just have to be taught in a certain way, at a certain time (namely reading, writing, and maths). When I try to explain what our days look like I have then been asked, ‘but I assume you do have some time where they have to sit down and do school work’. Well…no. Unless they want to that is! It really is just like I’ve explained it.

I have previously talked about how natural learning has worked for us when it comes to learning how to read and write. Maths seems to be a little harder to explain. There is not a clear progression like there is with watching a child gradually master reading and writing. Maths encompasses so many things!

What my girls have learnt so far has been through their own play, and asking questions that come up in normal daily life. We have many maths materials available for them to play with or use to represent a problem whenever they like. There is cuisenaire rods, spielgaben, scales, rulers, an abacus, a number chart, paper and pencils, etc. Just playing with these resources has helped them visualize many concepts. It is difficult to explain in words how exactly natural learning happens for maths, so I thought it best to show you…

Natural Learning: MATHS

Learning about measurement while helping Dad build.

Natural Learning: MATHS

My 5 year old learnt to skip count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s by playing with her abacus.

Natural Learning: MATHS

Sharing grapes at morning tea led to talking about odd and even numbers.

Natural Learning: MATHS

Cooking includes lots of maths! Measurement, fractions, weight, counting, time, temperature…

Natural Learning: MATHS

Exploring symmetry through art.

Natural Learning: MATHS

My 3 year old playing with our scales and some blocks.

Natural Learning: MATHS

Recording the time it takes for an apple to decompose in our compost was an opportunity to introduce tally marks.

Natural Learning: MATHS

A trip to the shop to buy some stickers prompted a discussion on money. My 5 year old sorted the coins, counted them, and found different ways to make up one dollar.

Natural Learning: MATHS

My 3 year old playing with Spielgaben and discovering that ‘I can make a circle with the same of these ones’.

Natural Learning: MATHS

Just ‘playing’ with blocks and Spielgaben, but also obviously exploring symmetry and patterns.

Natural Learning: MATHS

Playing with cuisenaire rods and number cards.

The way we approach maths in our house is simply by answering questions, encouraging further investigation, providing resources, and most importantly just letting them PLAY. Children are motivated to discover how the world works and they come up with amazing questions constantly! When they come to me with a question I ask them what they think, and then we work out the answer together. If they are particularly interested in something I might set up an activity for them so they can explore it further, which they are free to use or not. We have had some great discussions and lots of fun and have so far covered more than the Australian curriculum for prep maths. All through natural learning and play. My favourite part is seeing the enjoyment they get from learning about maths, their confidence in themselves, and their desire for knowledge!

Hopefully that gives a clearer picture of what maths might look like, natural learning style!

19 thoughts on “Natural Learning: Maths

  1. I just adored reading this. I think this is the best way to learn. Give them the tools in unstructured way and let their curiosity guide them. We are only there to fill in the gaps when they have questions. Love!

  2. What a great post! I do not plan on homeschooling personally. I do not feel it would be the right decision for our family, but what I do want to do is to incorporate a lot of natural learning at home so that school then does not feel like such a chore. I ant my kids to love learning and I think a big problem today is that teachers just don’t always have a way of making it fun for everyone and parents leave it all up to the teachers when it should be a team effort! The picture of your little one playing with her abacus sparked a 45 minute adding and subtracting session with my 4yo and her abacus.

    Thank you for taking the time to explain your approach. Too many blogs just post pretty pictures.

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  4. Hello from France, i love your blog. Great fun, great learning! I’m wondering what is the brand of the abacus and of the rods you use. Thanks for sharing your passion!

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  10. Thx so much for this great article. Just one question, how do you teach them maths this way when they get older like 10 years and up. I’m a teacher so very difficult for me to teach out of the box and both my kids, now 9 and 10 just wants to play. Hate any form of schooling and I just want to freek out totally. Please can you help?

  11. May I please ask what blocks are being weighed? Is it the wooden construction set from MTA? I like how chunky they are. Thank you.

  12. May I please ask what blocks are being weighed? Is it the wooden construction set from MTA? I like how chunky they are. Thank you.

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