To my fellow homeschoolers,
How can our children learn mathematics if we delay teaching formal arithmetic rules? Ask your librarian to help you find some of the wonderful living books about math. Math picture books are great for elementary students. Check your library for the Time-Life “I Love Math” books or the “Young Math Book” series. You’ll be amazed at the advanced topics your children can understand!
Benezet’s students explored their world through measurement, estimation, and mental math. Check out my PUFM Series for mental math thinking strategies that build your child’s understanding of number patterns and relationships.
Still there is no formal instruction in arithmetic.
By means of foot rules and yard sticks, the children are taught the meaning of inch, foot, and yard. They are given much practise in estimating the lengths of various objects in inches, feet, or yards. Each member of the class, for example, is asked to set down on paper his estimate of the height of a certain child, or the width of a window, or the length of the room, and then these estimates are checked by actual measurement.
The children are taught to read the thermometer and are given the significance of 32 degrees, 98.6 degrees, and 212 degrees.
They are introduced to the terms “square inch,” “square foot,” and “square yard” as units of surface measure.
With toy money [or real coins, if available] they are given some practise in making change, in denominations of 5′s only.
All of this work is done mentally. Any problem in making change which cannot be solved without putting figures on paper or on the blackboard is too difficult and is deferred until the children are older.
Toward the end of the year the children will have done a great deal of work in estimating areas, distances, etc., and in checking their estimates by subsequent measuring. The terms “half mile,” “quarter mile,” and “mile” are taught and the children are given an idea of how far these different distances are by actual comparisons or distances measured by automobile speedometer.
The table of time, involving seconds, minutes, and days, is taught before the end of the year. Relation of pounds and ounces is also taught.
— L. P. Benezet
The Teaching of Arithmetic II: The Story of an experiment