Common Core Math Lessons…For Parents

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There have been a few interesting responses to Common Core math in the last year. There was the engineer who couldn’t do his son’s homework, the father who posted a check using ten-frame cards (a common-core tool) and the child who was marked down for a seemingly correct answer.

But perhaps one of the most interesting reactions to Common Core is that some parents are going back to school, to relearn math.

There have been a spate of courses for parents across the country, teaching them the new way of doing math and possibly preventing them from throwing objects across a room when they see their child’s homework.

“Almost every parent comes in and says, ‘This is not how I learned math,” said a fourth-grade math teacher, in New York.  The courses are in every state from California to New York and parents seem to come in with one goal in mind: to  not look stupid in front of  help their kids.

In Westerly, Rhode Island, parents were recently taught how to do single addition using Common Core methods as a help. The sum 7+6 can be worked out using strategies such as “doubles,” “count on” and “bridge to 10.”

“We want to develop flexible thinking, so if they hit a roadblock, they have multiple places they can go,” said a principal of an elementary school in Rhode Island.

Of course the idea that parents should go back to school to help their kids at school is a bit controversial.

Anthony Cody wrote in his blog that not every parent will have the money or time to go to courses, even if they do want to help their children whenever they can.

One teacher he spoke to said:

“My students’ parents work at night or they don’t have a car or they have seven kids and no way to get a babysitter. Those parents are not going to have access to something like this course, but the school across town that’s primarily white and upper-middle-class — every one of those parents are going to sign up and go. It just furthers the gap.”

However, for parents who don’t have the time (or the inclination) to go back to school it’s not all bad news. A teacher in Wisconsin who deals with parents who come in “a little hot with misconceptions” advises parents not to worry about teaching their kids the ‘wrong’ type of math.  

“Ultimately, any time spent with a child talking about math is worthwhile time,” she said.

Marina Gomer is a journalist and mother of one.  She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia.