Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My GIGANTIC, end-of-the-school-year freak out.

You know, when I was in high school, I often wondered WHY I needed to learn the principles of algebra. I mean, even at a young age, I knew I would never (ever) do that kind of math in real life.

So. When your daughter/son inevitably asks WHY they need to learn that bull--, you can tell them this very truthful answer.

Because one day, you'll have to teach it to your children.

I am SO SUPER excited that the school year is ending, simply because I hate math homework. H-A-T-E it. I hated it back in my school days, and then here it is, up in my freakin' grill all over again. I hate it so much that I am gladly trading it for days at the pool that require a minimum of 32 minutes of pure sunscreening/screaming (as my children despise the spray on sunscreen), but the lotion kind takes at least 56 minutes to apply, and that is where i say nu-uh. Close your eyes and your mouth, here comes the spray.

For those of you who don't have first graders yet. Sigh. I'm jealous, but also smirking inwardly, as you have no idea what's coming. Kind of like when you have a baby and you wish you could shove it back in, if only to reshape the puddle of nasty skin that spans the region between the upper and lower privates, which is totally awful and disgusting post-childbirth. It's all so fluid that by some miracle, stomach skin becomes back and butt skin. I know, because I have found my belly button on both of those locations, multiple times. That's right, non-preggo women wear girdles (i.e., Spanx) to keep that mess in place. No one told you, right?

Well, that's first grade. Only, now that you're getting more sleep and you're back to the gym and your belly skin is "pretending" to be flat and smooth, parenthood is about to give you a nasty kick in the nuts, otherwise known as your intellectual self-esteem. Bru-tal.

My hatred of homework is no surprise, as I've thrown small hissy fits about it all year long. Then, I decided to take my own advice and SHUT IT, because that was getting us nowhere. I decided to put on a good attitude, down load flash cards to my iphone and attack with GUSTO!

But here's the thing. G came home this week with this math problem: 56 + 37

Great, we all know that equals 72.

Just kidding.

Last I saw with homework, we were adding single digits, or easy crap like 12 + 4. But suddenly we are on double digits. Deep breath.

Do you know how to teach that?

Yeah, well, I thought I did too, until I started talking about "carrying" the 1, and G looked at me like I was talkin' smack about Justin Bieber. When asked how she was taught to do this problem, I got more blank stares and i-dunno's. I suspect marijuana.

The issue here, is that she is learning it in a completely different way than I did. And it's freakin' annoying! Because now addition is taught using coins and tally marks and number grids. Which totally stresses G out as she attempts to use several of these methods and ends up with an answer that includes fractions and decimal points.

And the kicker? If you ask her to add WITHOUT any of those tools, she is LOST. Like on a tropical island after a plane crash, where the survivors find a weird "hatch" and a whole group of crazies (sorry, my analogy ends after season 2).

Her math assessments continually come back saying that she is more consistent on homework than in class. Which doesn't surprise me, because we work on it until we get it right at home but I am fairly confident she has a less than basic understanding of math. Because it's being taught in 23 different formats.

So. On top of nightly math sheets, spelling sheets, and reading, we are also correcting class work and studying math flash cards. Plus eating dinner, and playing and bathing (sometimes) and watching 30 minutes of t.v. All done with a child that is mostly overstimulated and tired and potentially high on pot.

When I get back report cards, or notes on her assessments, etc., it's REALLY hard not to take it like an emotionally-oversensitive 14-year-old girl. Because it boils down to G needing more help, more practice, which I am obviously ill-equipped to do at this point. And I REALLY don't think I can blame G for it, as her study habits are not her responsibility at the age of 7. She doesn't get it. I barely get it, but can't teach it. Parent FAIL.

It's like being back in school again, where I always sucked at math. My only saving grace was that I poured HOURS of effort into catching on to what kids seemed to pick up in 5 minutes. The payoff for that kind of effort? I was always DROWNING in the hardest math class offered for my grade level. So I think that part of my advice to G is going to be teaching her to play a convincing possum, therefore securing her place in remedial math for her high school years.

I mean, seriously. No one "does" math anymore. That's what iphones are for.


Brooke said...

is she using every day math? sounds like it? first grade program, third edition, i helped write/edit that program...their philosophy/approach is way different than we grew up with but they also reteach, reteach, reteach a million times through out the year so if she doesn't get it now, no worries, later! and frankly it isn't for everyone, don't stress! it is FIRST grade not SAT time, yet!

Jen said...


Miss A is in first grade too. Somehow, she *gets* math and therefore it isn't a big problem for us, but I don't know what the heck her math workbook is talking about most of the time. And she'll explain how she solved a problem, and I have no clue what she's talking about either.

Also, Brooke? I'm trying to stalk you because I would LOVE that kind of job. It sounds like heaven. But your lack of a Blogger profile is making it hard for me to stalk you... I'm sure that's an oversight...

Anyway, I'm overjoyed that the school year is almost over. My 1st grader is exhausted and burned out (like G, she's a total burnout) and I am too.

amy said...

i married a math teacher- that's how I do math....

mGk said...

My oldest is 3. Your post has me in cold sweats. I'M GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH MATH?!?! Yet another anxiety laced joy of parenthood.

becky said...

and that is why i taught special education. even first grade is too much pressure!

Mimi said...

Call me. I love math.

Mimi said...

Call me. I love math.

Dana said...

Your post sounds oh so familiar to our experience last year. Good news... by the end of 2nd grade, they finally allow the kids to carry the 1 in addition. They just have to learn the other methods first. Also, the realization of the importance of school and homework hit Sydney about mid-2nd grade. The same will happen for G, and homework gets a LOT easier when that happens. Just keep teaching her good study skills and she'll be fine.

beth said...

my favorite part of this post is about the stretched out skin post childbirth. sooo true!! the rest is also very true and as a homeschool mom could put me into some heavy therapy. i am currently reading your blog and trying to escape my children who are nashing their teeth and working on math. the good part of hsing is that i can teach them in the old-school ways for better or worse.

carol said...