Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homework Hell-p

I have to admit something that is somewhat emotional , a little awkward, and totally embarrassing. This weekend both my husband and I were stumped by grade 2 math and in turn felt we narrowly escaped inflicting a possible life long fear of math in our daughter.
Knowing she was struggling a little with new concepts we sat down together to work through her homework. We had the best intentions. We're both took math through the end of high school, we competently manage our finances (heck, I manage to do our taxes) and I taught elementary school. This should be a cake walk. Somehow though when it came to 3-dimensional shapes, faces, vertices, and edges we just got plain confused. The crazy thing is, we both thought we knew what we were talking about.

All of a sudden memories of my parents complaining of the "new math" they were teaching us when we were kids came flooding back. A few minutes in and our conflicting ideas started to cause a fissure in our well laid plans. We were officially in homework hell.

Here we were thinking that by sitting down with our daughter to work through her homework we were going to give her confidence in her knowledge and send her off to school on Monday morning ready to take on anything that grade two could throw at her. Instead I feared we were showing our insecurities and making her worry even more. Fair enough. I mean, if your parents can't figure it out how the heck should someone in grade two????

Determined to turn around this quickly sinking ship we turned to the web for enlightenment. What we found was a vast number of websites that fell into one of two categories; amazingly helpful and clear or completely and utterly confusing and very stressful for us all.

It reminded me of the Shel Silverstein poem below. If only there were such a machine. We managed to get through it together and they must have had another lesson that week because she aced her test (no thanks to us) but it was a parenting moment I won't soon forget.

Where do you go for homework help?

Homework Machine

The Homework Machine , oh the Homework Machine,
Most perfect contraption that’s ever been seen.

Just put in your homework, then drop in a dime,
Snap on the switch, and in ten seconds time,

You homework comes out, quick and clean as can be.
Here it is – “nine plus four?” and the answer is “three”.

Oh me…

I guess it’s not as perfect
As I thought it would be.

By Shel Silverstein

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