Second grade math for my oldest child, Cassie, would have gone a lot smoother if only she had asked a neighbor for help instead of me.
Our school district, Oswego 308, adopted the controversial Everyday Mathematics program developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. The program is controversial because it is so very different from how most of us learned math, which relied a lot on rote memorization and recitation.
In traditional math, a math topic such as addition is introduced by a classroom teacher. Teacher explains the topic and then drills, drills, drills it into the students until they are able to fire back at teacher with a rapid response: 2 + 2 = 4! Flash cards are put away after students memorize all of their math facts. Teacher begins teaching the next math topic.
Everyday Math introduces and teaches mathematical topics as a part of a spiraling curriculum. Topics are introduced, and students are given homework, called Home Links, using real-life practical applications. Mastery is not required because all topics will continually reappear throughout the years and will be presented in many different ways with increasing levels of complexity.
As Cassie was my first child to enter elementary school, I was eager to learn everything. In Kindergarten and during the beginning half of first grade, I was able to keep up with the Everyday Math lessons. I felt fairly confident in my abilities to help her if she needed it.
By the end of first grade, I started getting lost.
Thankfully, Cassie didn't need my help. I would read over her homework, praise her and recycle the papers.
And then one fateful afternoon, Cassie came to me and slapped down the Home Link from Hell, second grade Home Link 5-6.
Cassie had completed a household scavenger hunt to find examples of three-dimensional objects. She had found examples for prisms, pyramids, cylinders and spheres.
However after searching our house, she still couldn't find an example of a cone. She was frustrated and desperate to play her video games!
With tears in her eyes, she begged me to help.
I started offering Cassie all sorts of objects which in my loose definition of a cone would work. However, Cassie has always been a strict-definition-kinda-gal and tearfully rejected each one.
Cassie's tears started flowing down her sweet, still baby-soft pink cheeks. And that is my only excuse for what I did next. My sweet second grade daughter was in tears over a homework assignment and I was desperate!
And at that moment, the heavens opened and a brilliant light shone down upon a ... martini glass!
With trembling hands, I offered it to Cassie as surely the wise men did so very long ago. My eyes beseeched her to accept my humble offering.
Would the top bowl of a martini glass qualify?
Cassie examined the martini glass carefully for a few moments. I held my breath, anxiously awaiting her reply.
She nodded her head, swiped her cheeks, and wrote "glass" on her paper.
I, a stickler for detail, had her erase it and write "top of martini glass" on her paper instead.
The next morning, Cassie left for school, and I thought that I was a hero. I thought that her teacher would celebrate our creativity, our brilliance. I was wrong.
Cassie came home from school that day and handed me her math paper. Written in red permanent marker: This answer is not appropriate for school!
I decided that I should probably scrap my cute Valentine's Day party idea: plastic martini glasses filled with Hawaiian Punch.
Cassie never asked me for help with her math homework again.
Has your child brought home any homework assignments from Hell? What about tedious projects, which end up being more stress for the parent than the child? Please share your stories!