Here's one of the many reasons I love unschooling. Most children don't naturally associate equations with fun, but this was quite a joyful moment in our sitting room late yesterday evening.
E: (to his sister) Hey, do you want to do an equation? C: What's an equation? E: Well, it's more like a puzzle really. It's where you have to figure out what a number is. C: Okay. E: So, if 42 minus A equals 35, what is A? C: What does minus mean? E: It means take away. C: Okay, but I have to do that on a calculator. Is minus the little line? E: Yes. D comes into the room E: (to D) Hey, here's an equation. If 42 minus A equals 35, what is A? D: That's not an equation or whatever. That's just a puzzle. E: They're the same thing. D: 7! D: (to his dad in another room): Hey, can you do E's puzzle? C: I got 7 too!
I asked E where he'd learned about equations. They've certainly been mentioned here over the years, but I don't remember any enthusiasm. He told me that his grandma had told him about them. That must have been in the summer. It's always interesting how things just pop up again when someone is ready, weeks, months or even years later.