We've all seen that post on our social media timeline when one of your virtual friends shares that story of how they were helping their child with math homework only to hear their child say "My Teacher said that's wrong!". Or maybe you haven't seen this scenario on your timeline, but you have an elementary school child and have dealt with this issue first hand. This is becoming a "common" concern since the adoption of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics by several states across the U.S. Some parents like hearing the words Common Core as much as they like hearing someone scratching a chalkboard. Let's get to the bottom of issue and hopefully by the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of why you despise helping your child do their math homework these days. Most people only know that the Common Core standards were implemented so that students across the United States would be learning the same concepts in their mathematics classes. However, the intent of the writers of the Common Core State Standards (CCSSM) was to help students have a better conceptual understanding of the mathematics they are learning. In plain english terms this means they were trying to help kids answer the question of "Why". For example, students have been taught for years that when you are subtracting multi-digit numbers, you may have to "borrow" from the next higher place value if the number on the bottom is larger than the number on the top. But when someone borrows something from you, naturally you expect them to give it back at some point right? This method worked for years in classrooms across the U.S., but students were just learning how to follow a set of procedures to solve these subtraction problems. What the CCSSM is supposed to show is that you are not borrowing anything. In fact, you are actually regrouping the number that is on top and writing it in a different form. Where this relates to classroom teachers today is unfortunately many of them have not received quality training in teaching the Common Core Standards, so unfortunately they are forced to convey the information to the students the only way they know how. This is causing frustration amongst parents every single day I'm sure. On behalf of the teachers, I would like to say that many elementary school teachers struggled with teaching mathematics before Common Core adoption and the problem got worse after the adoption of those standards. My suggestion to the parents is to seek out virtual resources to supplement what you already know and also be open to learning how this "new math" works. Whether you know it or not, your attitude towards the math often transfers to your child and they begin to have a negative mindset towards the work when they see that from you. There are several virtual math tutors available that can help you and your child get a better understanding of the concepts if you are willing to invest in your child's education. Also you can find a vast amount of virtual math lessons via the internet. I'd like to suggest the Youtube channel for one of the best online math tutors out there which happens to be Young Gurus Math Tutoring!
Many students go through four years of high school and strive to attain the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) possible. This is a great goal and it should be acknowledged by their school and their family. However, not all students with a high GPA, are students that will be successful in collegiate studies or even perform well on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. What causes this phenomenon? In many cases, the student probably attended a high school which failed to have the proper resources in place to prepare that student for the rigors of post secondary education. The student may have attained good grades during high school but failed to truly learn how to study. Also the student may have taken teachers in high school that did not offer rigorous coursework. There are many secondary schools across our nation that are placing students in Honors and AP courses, but the coursework being assigned to those students is not truly at an Honors or Advanced Placement level. Unfortunately, these factors are providing a disservice to our students and they will eventually be exposed for their academic ability or lack there of. As an educator, I have come to find that grades are not always a clear indication of a student's academic ability. We must begin to shift our teaching methods to cause our students to attain mastery of the content. This is not a simple task due to the focus on standardized testing across our nation (but that's another blog post for another time). When the students have a better conceptual understanding of the content we are presenting, they have higher rates of long-term retention of the content. Also, when students have been challenged with a rigorous curriculum, they will discover various ways in which they can persevere through learning tasks. I challenge parents, to focus less on your student's grades, and find ways to discover whether or not your child is really understanding the content they are being taught in school. Find ways to see if your child is learning to think for themselves and analyze tasks from a holistic perspective versus simply listening to a teacher spill a bunch of facts at them day in and day out. My title of this post is simply referring to the concept of whether you as a parent would prefer to see good grades on your child's report card and possibly risk them not understanding the material or whether you can accept them bringing home average grades, with the assurance of knowing they have struggled to attain mastery and understanding of the concepts. We often encourage students to attend college, but what are we doing to prepare our students for the academic rigor that comes with being a college student? The cost of post-secondary education is far too expensive to see your child attend for a few semesters only to dropout due to lack pf academic preparation. Teachers are going to teach the curriculum at school, but not all teachers are passionate enough to ensure that your child is getting a conceptual understanding of the content.