Go Ahead. Take a Gap Year in Grade School.

Unschooling gap year
Unschooling To University

We are almost halfway through this sh*t sh*w of a school year during the time of COVID.  This is why your kids could easily take a half gap year and just play for the rest of the school year, and they will not “be behind!”

Let’s talk Math, because it’s the one subject that parents worry about letting go the most. We are constantly told by teachers, principals, magazines, media, schools, tutors, and family, that it is linear, progressive and our children must learn it every year in sequence.


I have 5 kids – all different abilities, temperaments, learning styles, interests, genders, and talents. Some are learning diverse. We unschooled which means we followed the children’s interests – mostly play, projects and field trips.

Here is how their first experience of Math classes shook out:

All 5 kids did not take any math classes, did not do any worksheets or textbooks or any paper math and did no formal instruction in math from grades Kindergarten through Grade 6. They played. They had lemonade stands, baked cakes, and cooked kitchen potions, and played board games like Monopoly, Skipbo and Battleship. They logged way too much screen time and played many hours of video games.

When they became teenagers (age 13), two kids took an online grade 8 and 9 math course. They skipped grade 7. One kid took an online grade 7 and 9 math course and skipped grade 8. The last two kids took 1 junior high course in math, either grade 7 (skipped 8 and 9) and grade 8 (skipped 7 and 9). See how your kids can easily skip a year?

All 5 kids took grades 10, 11, and 12 math courses by either formal classroom teacher instruction or self-teaching at home from a textbook or screen. Their grade 10 math final marks were in the range of 75 to 88%. Their grade 12 math diploma exam average mark was 81%. This is not anecdotal. This is evidence.

How do kids learn 8 grades of math in one year when they are 13? They don’t really. They have been learning math experientially through solving daily life problems generated by play and projects.  They get a good grasp of math in their heads, even though they produce no paper evidence of learning math. When they get their abstract thinking skills, which we call the development of the pre-frontal cortex which accelerates from ages 13-25, they are able to understand and process how mathematics is worked out on paper through operations, rules, and formulas. By getting abstract math instruction in the teen years, they approach math with fresh gusto, instead of being burned out from too many worksheets shoved at them from ages 3-12.

There are a lot of other stories out there like ours, but you won’t hear about them in mainstream media. Do your research on unschooling and find out why your child can take ½ a gap year, or one year or perhaps you will gift them their entire childhood off from school and continue their education their way.

Developing Brain
The brain develops at different ages and stages

About Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE

BA, DTM, CCFE, Certified child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. Keynote speaker and best-selling author of "Discipline Without Distress", "Parenting With Patience", "Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers to Teens", and "Unschooling To University."
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2 Responses to Go Ahead. Take a Gap Year in Grade School.

  1. I completely agree, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. This blog is quite beneficial to all readers. Excellent work.


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