It is no secret, I’m the writer in the family. During my school days, I found I excelled in many subjects when it came to grades, but there was little to nothing that interested me about numbers. Science got boring. History was a snooze. But, with writing, I always found something that piqued my interest. It was always new, changing and fresh, and you never had to write the same story twice.
By high school, I’d already known it’d be my favorite thing to do. And despite some VERY challenging high school teachers that I swear were trying to kill me, or at least my GPA, I breezed through the grades and went on to study journalism in college.
My daughter is only in kindergarten. She, so far, is pretty good at everything, so it is hard to tell where her talents and passions may lie in the future.
For my son, it is much easier to decipher. My son, now in the third grade of the Methacton School District, is all science, all the way. It is a bummer at his age, as they only get to learn it for half of the year, and his half is now over. It is on to Social Studies for him, and lessons in geography and citizenship don’t keep his attention nearly as well as the sciences.
His second-favorite, and likely due to his complete ability to do it without trying, used to be math. Math was easy for him. He is, and always has been, a very logical kid. If you can explain to him how to think about something with rules, with facts, with set parameters, he’s a happy kid. He can us that knowledge to easily apply it to other problems, breezing through math problems in mere minutes. That was until now. Now, the scariest two words in the English language are “multiplication tables.” The words alone make him cringe.
I’m not sure why all of the sudden, we’ve hit a brick wall, but he despises them. For a kid that can memorize a spelling lesson, not to mention countless video game codes and levels, he seems to really struggle trying to remember his facts.
By mid-year, the students at his grade level were really supposed to have these down by now. We are still struggling in the 3s and 4s, and his class has since moved on long ago.
Now, as they begin to multiple double-digit figures, we’re being left in the dust. I’ll admit it, the district’s use of “Everyday Math” sometimes blows my mind. I figured I was safe tutoring my own kids at least until pre-algebra or so, but now we’re barely out of elementary school, and I find myself searching YouTube to figure out what in the hell a “lattice” multiplication table is. (I did find a video, by the way, that was quite helpful.)
I totally get that learning things in unique ways is likely to help the greater good. In other words, more children will find a method that works for their brain. But for my son, the program has yet to click for him when it comes to multiplying. We keep explaining to him that he just has to memorize them. These have to be quick facts he can regurgitate at a moment’s notice, and he’ll need them filed away in his brain space for the rest of his life.
Though he begrudgingly agrees it would be helpful to have them all stored away, he has yet to completely remember them all. My son’s a good student. He’s young, but he works hard. He has trouble focusing sometimes, but no more than I figure most 8-year-olds do. And, we are hardworking parents. We sit by their sides, night after night, helping the kids learn their daily lessons and dig through the homework pile.
But no matter what we’ve tried, we haven’t cracked the code. From flash cards to repetition, writing them to saying them, we don’t have a magic button to help him memorize these facts. I’m praying sometime this year, even if it ends up being summer, that they’ll just start to click. I remember fretting over him starting to read. And as if by magic wand, we woke up one summer day between kindergarten and first grade and he was reading Dr. Seuss with ease.
Maybe this will be like that … I hope this will be like that. Until then, we’ll continue to Google our math woes. I just really thought I had a few more years before we were here with our homework. And this mommy will just keep praying her son doesn’t get left in the dust in the meantime.