Friday, October 17, 2014

Multiplication is going to be the death of me.

For readers who are paying attention, my Olivia is in third grade this year. Olivia is super smart. She always test very well, always in the top ranking of the class, always in the top one or two percentile nationwide in basically everything. I felt like the first three years of school I was going to get by easily because she just picks up everything so effortlessly.

Until third grade.

More specifically, until multiplication.

Now, I fully understand that with the Common Core standards math is taught drastically different than when I was in school. And for the most part, I'm fine with that. Even if I don't understand it, that's not the important part. The important part is that my child understands it and can learn math concepts. And while I haven't understood how to do her math any other year using these new standards, I have always been able to go to the teacher and get some guidance and every year, that's worked out beautifully.

This year we are working on multiplication and division and I swear to you all, I am going to lose it. It's gotten to the point where I am actually telling her to ignore what her teacher is telling her because they way they are doing it makes no sense at all. At conferences, I brought this up and it's like the teacher understood my frustration, but gave us no other alternatives other than to keep trying. Well that's out the window. This week I started working with her on her times table and I thought by god- this kid is going to memorize it, and we'll work out the rationale later. Homework time has been reduced to tears (mine), frustration, then she cries, then we fight, and I know in that scenario she isn't retaining anything at all.

I fully understand the rationale behind explaining a math concept and having them know that 4x3=12, but also being explain what that actually means- that four rows of oranges over here multiplied by the three columns of oranges over here is going to give you twelve oranges. I agree that this is a great method to use, and frankly, maybe if it was explained that way to me as a kid I wouldn't have struggled so hard in math my whole life. But right now, I'm watching a highly intelligent, studious, happy girl dissolve into tears over homework.

I also hate that I am having to take it into my own hands at this point. Because frankly? I'm not a teacher for a reason. I did not go to school to be a teacher, I have no idea what I am doing and that's why I don't home school. I'm not kidding myself, I have no idea what I'm doing. I want her to be able to do well on assignments, without me guiding her along, but also do well on tests to show that she actually can do it.

The nice thing is that it isn't just my kid. I have talked to a lot of other parents with kids in the same boat. What gets me is that of the parents I spoke with, we're all very hands on with our children's education and they are struggling. What about the kids who don't have parents at home who care enough to help with homework? Those kids are getting lost in the shuffle and that's heartbreaking. I don't know what to do about that. But I do know that if multiplication is this hard with Olivia, I'm terrified for when Jackson gets there because he's not nearly as studious as her. He's smart, but he doesn't love school work enough to really put effort into it. And if third grade is this hard? God help me from here on out.


Julie H said...

My son had a hard time with it too. It just gets worse if they don't get it. He's in 6th grade now and still doesn't know them all. I much prefer the worksheets with repetition that you just keep doing over and over until you memorize them all.

Unknown said...

ugh! I keep hearing about kids ahaving this issue. I think the problem is that they're trying to teach kids who can't understand abstract notions to learn math in an abstract way. It's impossible. I understand now as an adult the abstracts...but I sure as shit didn't get it as a 7 year old. I'm sorry...for both of you.