How Flashcards Saved Our Unschooling Day

How Flashcards Saved Our Unschooling Day - The Classical Unschooler

I hated flashcards with a passion. Same for worksheets of any kind. I loved calling them busy work that seemed to be done more for the parent’s or teacher’s benefit than the student’s need.

It wasn’t until I threw away our math curriculum that I began to love them.

This is how it happened.

My daughter is a very systematic thinker and learner. She needs structure. She is not intensely self-motivated. She likes being taught; she enjoys the interaction, the back and forth, the dialogue.

She is very different from my son, for example, who can be left alone with a book / a chart / a piece of information knowing that he will come back knowing much of what was in it.

The mistake I made was the mistake many parents make – they mistake a need for structure with a need for institutional structure. They claim the child needs to learn the same rules they live by – and call it discipline. Sometimes, this works. Usually, it’s not the best idea.

As I mention in my book The Classical UnschoolerI bought a popular math curriculum. It worked for a while. Pretty soon, I wanted to tear out my hair and burn the textbook.

So I did what most parents won’t do. I put aside the curriculum. I listened to my gut. I saw that she was struggling in math because she didn’t know her math facts. As I explain in my book, I don’t expect to move my children along to the next “tool” of logic if they can’t grasp the grammar. And my daughter didn’t have the grammar.

Yes, she understood it but it wasn’t available to her for recall at the drop of a hat. And that is not the way I teach math.

So we did it our way. We made our own flashcards for math facts to 18. (Believe it or not, these are hard to find.) They were simple. And they worked!

We spend about 20 minutes every day with our homemade, made from scratch flashcards. They learn, quiz each other, I quiz them and, well… it works! They’re learning. And I love not having to battle someone else’s idea of how and what my children ought to learn.


Does classical homeschooling seem like a worthy but overwhelming goal and unschooling too lax in its approach? Find out how to combine the two. Get your copy of The Classical Unschooler today! Now available on Kindle. 

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at – unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

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