08 October 2014

My Response to Common Core

Notice I didn't say this is my opinion of common core. That has no place here. I'm talking about how we - as a family - handle it in our house.

See, common core is new. There have been jokes around forever about 'new math,' and I remember my parents struggling with my homework because we 'did it differently' than they remembered. That's okay, and apparently I still made it through successfully even without my parents knowing how to do some of my homework.

Like I said, I'm not stating an opinion on common core. I'm not saying it's right, or it's wrong, or it's confusing, or a waste of time. I'm not even saying you can't contest it with your school board or other governing educational body. That's all up to you.

What I want to be sure and express is that regardless of the subject, our job as parents is to be supportive of our child's learning experience, and our child's teacher's role in that. To me, that means slowing down to really look at my daughter's homework. Usually that starts with her explaining a few of the problems to me (I pretend I'm checking her work, but I'm really learning the process she's been instructed to use on the easy problems she's confident with). Then she works through the rest of the problems, which usually get progressively more challenging. By the last problem, titled 'Stretch Your Thinking,' or something equally involved sounding, we are ready to put our heads together. I'm proud to say I usually solve it before my second grader. Usually.

This is where my true job as a supportive parent comes in. I really try to use the verbiage she used on the easy problems to lead her to an answer using the process she's being taught to use. Do I have to agree with the process? No.

In the interest of being an aid in the whole process of learning, I never want to say that the teacher is doing it the hard way, or that I know a better way, or especially that math is now impossible with common core. See, I'm teaching my daughter how to deal with the circumstances she's in. And if I want her to be successful at math, she needs to learn how to do it as she's instructed. Whether or not I agree with that way.

I'd love to see more parents praising their children for paying attention in class well enough to teach US how to do this 'new math.' Questioning authority is something we'll surely discuss as the years go on, but I really don't think it has a place in second grade math.

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