A Charlotte Mason Education, and math curriculum.

I came across a homeschooling mom today that suggested that a homeschooler should be teaching math from life experience only, rather than use any curriculum.

I agree that it is invaluable to teach “life” math. You can make almost anything an opportunity to teach math. Cooking, baking, grocery shopping, playing video games, playing almost any game where points are involved. You find math all over this big beautiful world. Percentages, statistics, you name it. But, can a person receive a well-rounded education in mathematics and arithmetic without a curriculum? My answer is no. Of course, radical unschoolers will disagree with me, but the truth is, eventually most kids will use some sort of math curriculum if they want to progress in their learning and studies.

From Webster’s Dictionary on Curriculum:

1 : the courses offered by an educational institution
2 : a set of courses constituting an area of specialization

Even if a radical unschooling family learns math from life for years and years, what happen when little Suzy wants to do something like become a doctor, or a scientist? I guarantee that Suzy will be eager to sign up for the appropriate math courses to help her achieve her goals. True, that it would be a child led interest, but I assure you, she will be using a “curriculum”. You might not buy a curriculum for your homeschool, but if you make a conscious effort to focus the area of your child’s study in a certain direction, you are creating your own curriculum resource or plan of action. If you read certain books to your child about math concepts, that’s a resource that some would consider a “curriculum.”


I chose Math-U-See for a math curriculum for our homeschool. To be honest, I am not a math lover. I understand math, and I wouldn’t even say it’s difficult for me, but if I had a choice of what to do with my time, math would rate very, very low on my scale. Perhaps that is why during my senior year of high school, I had completed my required math credits, and opted out of taking a third credit. Instead, I attended three English classes a day; two literature, and one writing class. 😉

I wanted to make sure that my kids had a solid foundation in mathematics, and for the concepts to be taught in a hands on approach. I love the manipulatives in Math-U-See, and I love the way the way that each concept builds upon the previous one. There is constant review of what has been learned, but never so much repetition that my son gets bored with what we are doing. He is challenged by learning a new concept, but he never struggles to learn it. It’s as effortless as breathing, really, and even I have a better understanding of simple concepts since we began using this program. Not only that, but it’s in line with a Charlotte Mason style education.

Charlotte taught math in her schools. But like everything else in a CM education, the lessons are to be short, focused and lively. Find and use excellent living books if you can, and help the child see and appreciate the beauty and wonder of math and arithmetic. It should never become a burden to the child.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you use a math curriculum? Do you think learning math from life is adequate for an entire education? Do you feel math curriculum fits in with a Charlotte Mason education?

Inquiring minds want to know…


3 thoughts on “A Charlotte Mason Education, and math curriculum.

  1. Beth says:

    While I don’t homeschool, I do have a great deal of interest in education. *wink* Curriculum can be as formal as a prescribed set of concepts that must be mastered within a set time frame before moving forward or as informal as having your kids help you figure out the price of an item in the grocery store if you have a coupon.

    Math enters our lives in so many ways with some concepts being used infrequently. IMO, a child will not be exposed to and taught thoroughly about math relying on life experiences alone. I happen to love math. I totally agree that children should be given opportunities to explore math and learn without realizing they are in the midst of being taught math. Manipulatives are a great way to bring an otherwise dull subject to life. When it is fun, it’s not a bore and learning is easier.

  2. mrs darling says:

    Thre is now way you can learn Math from life and pass our state testing. If you just learn math from life what would a child do if they came to this on the third grade state test?

    8 x23=8 X (__ +____)=(___x___)+(___ x____)=___+___=_______

    I took that straight out of my daughters 3rd grade Math book. How can life teach you that?

  3. akhomeschoolfun says:

    I too use Math-U-See in our homeschool. I got it because it fit for kindergarten after our Montessori style used for pre-school. Now it still fits that we’re moving into literature based (CM?) learning starting for second grade this fall. It’s such a versatile program. Plus, the kids don’t have to keep switching manipulatives every year (or chapter!). My son loves it and is learning rapidly without getting stressed over math. I keep recommending it to other homeschool mom’s who complain of their own curriculum’s math woes.

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