I Love Math…it makes my kids cry
Math was my favorite subject when I started school. When I was in Montessori we used the golden bead system, which is now more popularly called base ten. I understood simple mathematics. I enjoyed doing math problems, because I viewed them as fun puzzles. When we relocated from California to Indiana at the beginning of second grade, for me, things changed a great deal. Suddenly, math was impossible for me to grasp. My teachers insisted that I was refusing to attempt to learn it. I suffered severe stomach aches all of the time, and was always trying to find a way to get my mother to let me stay home from school. The school system insisted I attend summer school. Finally, one good teacher suggested that my mother take me to a psychologist. I was soon diagnosed with a form of dyslexia…after that things started to get better.
We absolutely love our home schooling program. We use a curriculum provided by an online school, and our group is managed publicly through the state and our county. We are required to take all of the standardized tests that the children in the local public schools do. Even though I am immensely grateful for the resources that my children have in education right now, I still have to say that we have a long, long way to go in regards to educating children the best that we can. I am not alone in this. A great number of people with very impressive degrees in education feel the exact same way.
Each and every day there is at least one breakdown in my house between my three children. When it has to do with school, it is typically a breakdown over math. In my honest opinion, I do think that progress is being made in trying to present children with multiple methods of solving math problems…we are not there yet though, not by far. My assessment of our current situation is that we are stalled in the middle of creating a system that facilitates all children in learning math well. We are currently stuck in the mud. My children are having all kinds of crazy methods thrown at them. Many of these methods, they do not resonate with. Many of them I can’t even understand…and my oldest kids are in fourth grade. They have not been taught any of the traditional methods for solving problems. I myself taught my kids how to do multiple digit multiplication and simple division on paper. That is the only method that seems to work for them, the curriculum however, neglected to teach it to them…I guess there wasn’t room for it with all of the new math…yet they are still expected to be able to come up with the correct solutions.
My kids often struggle, and they are really smart kids. All three of my children would tell you that they strongly dislike math, and that makes me sad. Children do not learn well when they are not excited and engaged. My son may have a touch of the learning disability that I have, but if he does, it is much milder than mine and the fact that we do most of our work on computers should circumvent the majority of the problem anyways. My kids are working on long division and fractions. In fourth grade I was still doing time tests in simple multiplication. Again and again I am reminded, through daily experience, that children learn certain things far more easily when they are further along in their mental development. The approved curriculum has created no solid foundation in math for my kids, and yet it continues to move ahead without covering the necessary bases. The standardized testing is absurd. A teacher explained to a friend of mine that she has multiple children throw up in her classroom before our big yearly-standardized test. Our children are so nervous about taking a stupid arbitrary test that they are vomiting in public. I do not believe that this reflects the idea that we are doing a good job. We are still failing our children in education. I don’t worry about my kids because I know that whatever challenges they face, my husband and I will find them the resources that they need to learn, and learn well. I worry about all of the children who do not have parents like us. They are important. They are the future of our country. We need to work harder to make education better for our children. It is a big priority, and we need to do it yesterday.