I never thought much about math growing up, didn’t much care about it. I liked how easy it was to memorize all the facts, steps and procedures. It all came easy, except those pesky fractions. Oh, and then geometry. That’s when it kind of fell apart. Math was supposed to be about copying what the teacher told me to do, not constructing my own thinking!
Oh how things have changed! As a first grade math teacher and elementary math interventionist, I have learned so much more about mathematics than all the math classes I took throughout the years. I remember watching the Cosby Show and listening as Vanessa asked Dr. Huxtable for help with her math homework. He was useless since she was learning new math. I didn’t know anything about new math, having missed that fad. I never did understand that scene. I mean, new math? How could there be new math?
I now understand, intimately, how new math can be. Math now, because of change and because of the Common Core State Standards of Mathematics is all about helping kids develop deep understanding of mathematics. Our old ways of steps, procedures and practice (also known as drill and kill) is out. I’m comfortable with it. In fact, I love it. But, I struggle with how to answer parents when they ask, “How am I supposed to help my child with his homework?” Short of coming home with the family, teachers have limited ability to support parents with math homework.
So that’s the inspiration for this blog. A tool parents can turn to when they look at the homework and say, “What are you supposed to do here?” or when kids say, “That’s not how my teacher taught us!” I look forward to requests for ideas and shared conversations about supporting kids at home.
With a child entering kindergarten next fall, I too am embarking on the homework journey. So far, Pre-k homework has been pretty easy. I’m hoping I’ll be able to take some of my own advice and use yours too!