Category Archives: Maths

The mini world of a boys club


Charlie has been devouring Secret Seven books and along with  American comics set  in the 1950s (Tubby and Lulu) has developed a huge passion for having a club.

With two local (homeschooled) friends he as made up a club.

They have a name, rules and quite a charter by the sounds of it.  There are plans for a clubhouse to be built upon our return from Europe.

They have been meeting under the house in the “base” there, but have decided that they are too big and want a real clubhouse!

At Easter they had a club Easter treasure hunt (sorry I cannot reveal the club name it would be hazardous to my health…).


Here they are receiving the instructions for the first clue.


All very into fariness they had turns reading and picking up the clues.


The trail took them all over the place….


But of course they won out in the end with the loot!

I love seeing them so intensely organising a mini world.  They have the rules, the structure, the same things they see in the adult culture around them, mirrored in their own corner of the world.

This age is amazing, they have just got the freedom to step out alone, bike around the village together, go the the local pool together free of adults.  And for a few  years this is coupled with imagination and the joy of seeing the world through their child’s eyes.

So exciting for them.  I remember my own club I had at 10yrs.  It was a “sneaking” club – a bit like what Charlie is into now, spying.

We had badges, a treasury, meetings in our secret hut and used to go off around the community on missions.  Such fun, until adolescence sneaks up and pushes it all away.

So long live the Club and I look forward to the building of the new club house in the spring when we return….unless Wayne wants a nice winter project….!!!.

The Fear of Failure


I was speaking to a friend yesterday with 5 kids, all at various private schools.  She said they are all behind in different ways.
All behind!  Or should I say  all “behind“?
She sounded quite stressed and I know she spends a lot of time worrying about their education.

I tease her about homeschooling her children and yesterday she said, maybe I had it right.


What sort of childhood is it being pressured to satisfy  someone else’s idea of who you should be, where you should be focusing your time and energies?

Whenever would you get enough time to be yourself?  To follow your own ideas, chase your own dreams??

I have found I have had to let go of any expectation for young children to even contemplate academic subjects.  Or perhaps subjects from an academic perspective.
Children are full of poetry, but why make them write it down?
They constantly dice with scientific laws, but who cares what they think they are just playing a game?
Maths?  It is everywhere – except written down in a book.

Then as they grow, and sadly stop the imaginative play, they seem to take more of an interest in the wider world, it becomes more real to them.
At some stage they begin to contemplate their place in the world and what this means to them. What contribution they may make.

This is when they may choose to put names to the science they have practiced for years.
This is when they may want to record their ideas on paper – or more likely digitally.

Surely it is impossible to fail at your childhood?  As long as you are happy, get to play, eat, sleep, are loved and safe.  There is no way to be ” behind”.  We each of us dance to the beat of our own drum anyway.  Young children more than ever – as long as we  allow them to.

Plenty of people are “behind” the norm – starting a new career at 50, becoming a writer after they retire.  Let’s not restrict children’s growth and development by  placing stifling and unrealistic requirements around them.

The homeschooling world is full of heartening stories of “late” readers (10 and 11 yr olds), success stories of young adult unschoolers with their own passion fueled businesses.

Do we despair when our child reads at 3 years old instead of the required 5yrs?  Of course not,we celebrate there individuality!   Do we ridicule  a 40 year old going to university for the first time? Are they considered behind too?

I have said it before and will say it again – let the children play.
For play is their life’s work.

Imagination is more important than knowledge,
for it encircles the world – Einstein

Fiscal delights

Fiscal delights

Charlie is still busking.  When he wants money for something he just decides what he needs and goes to get it!  No mucking around.

He can spend a lot of time counting, categorising and playing with the money he has made (he does read a lot of Donald Dick comics though and is inspired by Scrooge….)  Saying that, he has  heart of gold.  With Hannah’s 14th birthday approaching he knew exactly what he wanted to get her and even wanted to use his own money.  He  spent ages making a very thoughtful card, with pictures of things she likes all over it.

Hours of fun…counting money

Charlie lives numbers and likes to  quantify everything.   Even feelings.  He talks in percentages and fractions and time.

Recently while at the supermarket he added up the whole shop while we were going around, not rounding up or down but exactly!

Late one night Wayne gave him a maths problem he had done at school with his 12 year olds that day.  Charlie loved it!  His eyes lit up  and kept asking for more and more until his eyes and ours were out on stalks and he fell asleep on the notebook he was working in.


On Saturday night he is playing ukulele and singing solo in front of a big crowd at a community family fun night. We are also playing in our bands and Charlie is doing a filler act between the main bands.  He is so confident!

Maths and music so often go hand in hand and he certainly proves this theory.

How unschooling works


I heard a very experienced homeschooler tell this story recently and it captivated me as  the perfect example of how unschooling works.  Where knowledge is acquired on a need-to-know basis.

Her daughter started a new job.  She was 32 years old.  Within the first hour she realised she would be needing to know how to work with fractions and percentages.  She didn’t have this knowledge.  So she rang her dad and asked him to talk her through it.  The conversations (and the learning) took 2 minutes.

This shows many things.

1.  When you are ready you will learn quickly

2.  When it is relevant you will learn quickly

3.  You do not need to spend 13 years at school to learn the most needed /used maths   concepts

4.  Learning never ends

It really is that simple.

Our children do this naturally.  They want to know something, they ask.
And let’s throw out the idea that by 18 years old a person should know everything.  Or that at 18yrs old you embark on a lifelong career.

People being  life long learners – that is what I am striving for!

A Magical curriculum


While we were travelling around, when Hannah was 6 and Hannah was Hermione (from Harry Potter) she decided she could go to Junior Hogwarts, as she just couldn’t wait until she was 11.  So we bought scrapbooks and exercise books and covered them in  gold and silver paper.
We did all the normal Hogwarts subjects, although I had alot of help from my prize student.  I have a fair knowledge of HP, as I always read each Harry Potter book the day after they came out.  We would always queue for the new book and Hannah would read non-stop for 4-6 hours and finish it…… then let me at it!

Still I didn’t have Hannah’s amazing knowledge of the magical world.  She used to quote bits and remember which chapter of which book a certain sentence was in.  And when I was reading aloud to the boys and may occasionally have missed out an adjective, we would hear her voice from another room saying – “Blue dress, Mum”   or  ” glanced suspiciously“….

So we did History of Magic where she wrote huge essays about the Troll Wars.   Herbology where she  picked and identified plants,  we practiced our wand movements in Transfiguration,   mixed up  Potions,  worked on Charms…..

By age 8 Hannah had progressed to Hogwarts Middle School.  She had a huge old banana box as her potions kit, filled with bottles and packets of  every substance you could imagine…..  She drew magical creatures and wrote about their qualities and did more and more complicated spells found in the later books….

On her 11th birthday she received her Hogwarts letter, written in green ink, delivered by owl.

That year, with two best friends (unschooled too) they founded St Hedwigs Collegiate for Girls.  They shopped in op shops to create a uniform – lovely blue vest, white blouse, black skirt with a tie.

They wrote a school song, three very different histories of the school and every week – with the support of their three professors they attended magic school and studied a range of subjects.
Some looked suspiciously like “Muggle” subjects  sewing, maths….

Maths lesson!

When they were here we reverted to the more traditional subjects of potions, transfiguration, history of Magic and music!

Painting the clay owls the girls made.
-With St. Hedwig herself being the founder of the school, the Owl was its symbol and mascot











It has been amazing t0 see how long Harry Potter has endured in our family, it feels as though he has always been a part of our family.

J K Rowling has certainly given us a great gift –  a fertile breeding ground for the  imagination.

Here is Professor Trelawney and Luna
off to the the midnight premier of the
last of the  HP movies…..





I know many will have a good laugh about unschoolers playing schools.

We did!

Poker face


I have often thought I should get around to teaching the kids poker.
We play many cool card games and some with betting involved. We have a big jar of old coins – right up Charlie’s street.   He is by far the keenest game player and loves to play anything – we tend to go through phases where we play the same game for a few months on end – Backgammon, Yahtzee(touched on poker), Canasta, Chess, Settlers of Catan, Mancala….

How fantastic it was this weekend when their cousin Finn, taught them poker.
The three boys played for hours on end, luckily Granny had a large collection of coins for betting (what does she  get up to??)

I love it when the kids learn new things from other people.

It really expands their world and makes a change from me!

Then of course when they tell me all about it and want to teach
me their new skills it is so exciting for me to hear what they have                         been up to.

This is how Ollie arranged all his money during the game.
Full of Olympic spirit!











They played for hours at a time over the weekend.

This gave us time to indulge in our favourite game – Bananagrams and now a new game, using the same letter tiles taught to us up the mountain tramping recently – Anagrams.  Very great game for word lovers  like my mum and me.  We played with an Olympic theme, in honour of the moment – which gave the game a good twist and kept our brains stretching.

Busking and Abundance


Charlie has been busking five times in all , over the last couple of weeks.  We have just been away and he took his ukulele and he busked in new and different places.  He was totally inspiring for several reasons.
Firstly his confidence.  He is only 8 and how incredible to see such determination  and such as ease of doing what he loves to do. I was totally inspired and have sat in various places watching and thinking, well if he can just step off the cliff like that, put himself out there, there is no excuse for me not to drag some of my dreams off the back burner as well.  Carpe diem.

Just listening to good music is also a great soul lifter.  I think I am not alone.   Over the last few days I saw many folk smiling as they watched Charlie singing his heart out.  Music is such a mood setter and changer.  Seeing people looking rushed or stressed, then hearing Charlie singing and then seeing him  (because just remember that he is young and cute…) smile, stop in amazement to listen (he is also a very good musician)  was such a wonderful thing to see.  What a gift he gave so many people.  He has got better at being able to  also thank them graciously, sometimes in mid-song, as they gave him money.

I am so happy for him that he has learnt at such a young age how important it is to do what you love in life.  Of course if you are doing that, living your passion, then you will naturally bring joy to others.  Whether you are giving time, helping out practically, teaching or inspiring others by how you live your life I have learnt that when you do live  your perfect life and do your passion,  you cannot help but help others.  It just happens, a bonus side effect if you like.

And so the big lesson about money.  Charlie loves money!
How fantastic to hear him say…”Oh I will just make another $60…”    He was totally demonstrating that the universe is an abundant place and he is a powerful creator.  He was never thinking that he should save some.  He never doubted his ability to earn $50-$60 per hour singing and playing ukulele.
I love that and want to be like him!!  He spent nearly $300 this week on Star Wars Lego!!
I am so excited for him and he was great trying to explain to me how excited he was, by putting himself in my shoes –
“So mum, it is like someone giving you air tickets to travel anywhere you want in the world….”
Yep , that worked for me and boy that is VERY excited!!

So what a buzz.  This has really got my creative juices working…….

Oh and I intend to get some photos next time, when he has finished putting all his new lego together and is ready to get out on the streets again!