Many parents with a bit (or a lot) of math anxiety don’t even realize how they stiffen up and withdraw when their children innocently draw their attention to something math related. Make a conscious effort to do the opposite. 

Pam Sorooshian
Getting Past Your Own Math Anxiety

It’s amazing how many parents will read about Unschooling, watch the principles work for their family and still say, “Well, our family will Unschool everything but Math.” Many posts/talks/books by mathematicians share how prevalent math anxiety is and often point to the way math is taught in schools as the source. This leaves parents at a double disadvantage: feeling unprepared and unwilling to allow our children to seek out math on their own.

We can’t remember “math facts” all these years later and we were directly taught them. How will our kids learn them? This is one of those spots where Deschooling is necessary. Random memorization of math facts is only useful to take timed standardized tests. Tests are part of the school paradigm and not a regular part of Unschooling life. (Additionally, standardized tests pose a whole host of problems not the least of which is that they don’t actually indicate learning.)

Without meaning, mathematics is just a bunch of isolated facts. A heap of stones, as Poincaré says. No one wants to build a heap of stones. We’d all rather build a house. It’s why memorizing times tables is boring—that’s a heap of stones. But looking for patterns in multiplication and understanding why they happen—that’s building a house.

Francis Su, Past President of Mathematical Association of America

OK. So how do Unschoolers learn math? Will they really encounter it in their everyday life? What if they need “advanced” math? Here are some resources we’ve found useful in our journey:

Math posts on the Texas Unschoolers blog

Math posts by Pam Sorooshian, economics professor and mom to 3 grown Unschoolers

Learning Math curated by Unschooling Mom2Mom

Math articles on Life Learning Magazine

It’s not all about numbers: Unschooling math posts & resources curated by Joan Concilio/Unschool Rules

While not from an Unschooling perspective, several families have shared that these sites have also been useful resources:

Math Mamma Writes… blog by Sue VanHattum, community college math teacher interested in all levels of math learning

Living Math! is site is dedicated to sharing resources for math learning,
exploring and enjoying math in a dynamic and holistic manner, for all ages.