Borderline genius thought of the day: I AM smarter than a 5th grader…wait…you lost me at common core math.
The kids have been back to school now for 4 weeks. I’ve always enjoyed getting back in the routine of things and have been looking forward to that part. What I haven’t looked forward too is the homework. I have absolutely DREADED the homework these kids have brought home over the last couple of years. Not to mention the daily backpack dump of papers that comes home each day. On top of that comes another year of reminding the kids that their lunch boxes are not garbage cans. The first few reminders will be gentle and sweet “when you are finished with something in your lunch box, please throw it away.”
Let’s jump right into common core math shall we? I HATE IT! Ok, I tell my kids to chose another word whenever they say the word “hate”, but I myself just can’t have a filter on this one. What in the actual hell is going on? You can tell me until you’re blue in the face that it makes better sense for them to learn this way, but I’m not sure how complicating things makes any sense at all. They also call it simplifying which is total crap because there is nothing simple about it. I work in accounting and have done so for over 18 years, and I have not once helped my child with his math homework and said, “man my job would be easier if I would’ve learned common core math.” Here’s my actual problem though. You want to change the game? Then by all means change the game, but keep it in the classroom. Please I beg you PLEASE stop sending math homework home.
Common core math is so straightforward…said noone ever
We are a math family. I loved math in school, and made a career in Accounting (as mentioned above) because I love working with numbers. My husband is an Electrician and is very good at math himself, and our oldest son also loves math. Yet none of us can help the 5th grader in the house with these common core concepts. We all immediately go straight to how WE were taught to work out the problems only to find that we are not doing it right. I tried to enlist the help of our oldest son and he is also left trying to figure out what is being asked on the homework. I thought back to when he was in elementary school and couldn’t recall having these issues when he was in 4th and 5th grade so I did some research.
During the 2011-12 school year we lived in Washington State and our oldest son was 9/10 years old and in 4th grade at the time. July of 2010 is when Washington State adopted the common core standards. By the time this was rolled out we had bi-passed all of this nonsense with our oldest son. Amen hallelujah! Thinking back to then versus now I can tell you that living through pre-common core was the lessor of two evils. According to OSPI, “The standards require a practical, real-life application of knowledge that prepares Washington students for success in college, work and life. ”
You can check out the full details at http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/CCSS/
Excuse me…did I read that right? Practical? It prepares them for “success in college, work, and life”? When our 5th grader stops us to say that there are more steps and he will get marked wrong if he doesn’t break it down more I find myself stunned. I’m over here like: you mean I can get to the answer by breaking it down twice but the correct way is to break it down 10 more times? You’ve got to be kidding me right? How is this easier? How is this preparing him for success? What do you mean I can’t count with my fingers? We live in a world full of technology now and I (for one) have spreadsheets, calculators, and accounting software that assists with the majority of my accounting calculations in the workplace. If I did my daily accounting work the common core way I’d never get anything done and would surely be fired by now! I feel like a gigantic failure trying to help my 5th grader sort through this mess. He is constantly frustrated with it, and tells me they don’t give extra time in school to do it.
I really started noticing him struggling with this last year (in 4th grade) and wanted to find out how he could get more support in school. Back in my day when I needed extra help the teachers would suggest I come in before or after school for additional help. Naturally I assumed I would be given those same suggestions. So I reached out to his teacher and was hoping she would suggest him staying in from recess or come in before or after school for extra help. Instead she suggested that I get him a tutor. So basically this made me feel like I’m responsible for teaching math to my child, and it just added to my frustration. I’ve also been directed to the online resources…which I don’t find helpful whatsoever. For me it feels like I’m left to teach my son math because he is not grasping it in school. Maybe I’d be better off homeschooling him at this rate.
I’ve spoken with several other teachers, and parents about my concerns with this. Time and time again what I’m hearing from others is the same frustrations with common core, but no solid and or practical solutions. Specifically math. Let’s be real…all children do not learn the same way. There is not 1 universal way to learn and there shouldn’t be 1 universal way to teach. I’m not claiming that is in fact the case with common core, but it sure makes this mama feel like it is. I feel like common core is just forcing every child to fit into the same box. There is no budging on how it’s suppose to be done.
There is so much talk these days about how things “used to be”. Back in the day. Back when we were taught to respect our elders or we would be cruisin for a bruisin. Back when we knew to go home when the street lights came on. Along those same lines…back when I was a kid I DID NOT come home with nearly the amount of homework these kids today come home with. My parents never had to help me with the little homework I did come home with, and I find myself struggling to help my own kids with theirs.
NEWSFLASH TO THE COMMON CORE POWERS THAT BE….look at me…I turned out just fine without common core. Ok, that might be up for debate depending on who you ask, but you get what I mean.
All math problems aside (no pun intended), but is it just my kids or are anyone else’s kids coming home with mass quantities of papers from school? When I had my first child I had this borderline genius idea to save all the stuff he came home from school with. I put everything in Tupperware bins and thought I could eventually do something with them. Put them in a book, do some scrapbooking, frame some, etc. I labeled each bin 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade…it was the perfect plan at first. Then the paperwork got to be so overwhelming after 3rd grade that I stopped. I started looking at the bigger picture and wondered to myself, “where on earth am I going to store all of this? When will it stop? Will I have to save everything until he graduates?” This turned into more like a borderline making me feel guilty for throwing my sons school work and projects away situation.
Fast forward 8 years and I’m still lugging around those 1st through 3rd grade bins. I put all that time and effort into saving them. It’s all about the principal now! Those bins have been packed around and have been through 3 states during our last move, and I’ll be damned if I’m just going to throw them out now! I’ve been through a lot with those bins.
So now I do what I like to call “the backpack dump.” Instead of saving all those papers I just throw them out. Of course I ask my kids first if they want me to save anything, and I myself will save anything that is a work of art or maybe the occasional straight A paper. All-in-all there is no more saving papers from school in this house. Instead I now just feel really bad for throwing nearly everything out. Saving it all is just going to cost me more time and money in the long run so living with the guilt sounds like the better option to me.
One thing I’m really happy about this school year is my sons teacher has the kids play before they eat lunch. Her theory is that the kids no longer rush to eat their lunch this way. Normally they would only eat half their lunches so they could be the first to get the basketballs, first in line for tether ball, or the first one on the swings. So this year they play first then have a full 20 minutes to eat before going back to class. She also said if there are issues on the playground she’s noticed the kids work it out while eating lunch rather than bringing the drama back to the classroom. I love this, because let me tell you about the lunch box struggle. Over these elementary school years it feels like we’ve been through at least 5,000 lunch boxes. Even with my boys being 6 years apart it’s been the same song and dance.
I could always tell they were in a rush to eat, because they would come home with all their half eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples with 1 bite taken out, empty wrappers, and bags of other snacks not zip-locked properly all now marinating together in their lunch boxes. By the time they got home and I opened them in preparation for the next day I was often presented with a sticky, caked-on mess in there. That started the incessant reminders that they need to throw things away at school during lunch if they were done with it. Usually by the last couple months of the school year I was over it and would send them with paper bags. I’m hoping this is the year that we end this lunch box saga.
So far with the new structure of playing before you eat, I have yet to have this sticky half eaten marination mess in the lunch box. I’m definitely giving the play before you eat idea my borderline genius stamp of approval, and I highly recommend that every teacher in all the land follow suite.
I’m left now to muddle through common core math, and I’m also planning on saving all of the papers that come home from school so I can use them as wrapping paper for this years Christmas gifts. Might even branch out and start my own paper airplane business. Most certainly will be looking into starting a common core math support group. I’m not going to hold my breath on going a whole school year with a clean lunch box though. I mean…are you really a mom is you don’t have to scrub the gunk out of the same lunch box at least 40 times in 1 school year?
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