If you have a child, you have either already been introduced to Common Core or you will be introduced to Common Core. It’s the newest way things are done in school when it comes to mathematics. That said, if you haven’t yet met Common Core, and if you haven’t already heard rumors from other parents, don’t worry, you will! Generation X (children of Baby Boomers and parents to the newest generation) is a generation that was taught mathematics like the generations that came before them. It’s called the “granny style” which is full of vertical adding and subtracting, borrowing, moving numbers, etc. It’s quick, it gets you to an answer, it’s simple. But when Common Core came into the picture for the newest generation (children of Gen X’ers), it left more questions than answers.
The Initial Problem
The initial problem with Common Core and today’s scholastic environment is one of separation. For example, I’m the child of a member of the Baby Boomer Generation. I learned the “granny style” of mathematics and so did my parents. When I went to school, I learned the “granny style” of mathematics and was then able to bring homework home and my parents could quickly and easily show me what I had done incorrectly. They could then carry forward what the school was teaching and I would be well on my way to success in school and beyond. For today’s young generation, schools keep a separation between the involvement of parents at school. Adding insult to injury, schools do not send home information about Common Core, which could enlighten and teach parents about how their children are learning in school. If there is one true problem with Common Core, it’s not Common Core itself, but the manners for which parents separate parents from what they’re children are learning while in school. That said, how is a parent supposed to help their child with homework when the parent doesn’t understand the way things are being done in school and doesn’t understand Common Core? Don’t worry – there is a solution for this but it does take a lot of effort and patience, depending on your mathematical ability, understanding, reasoning, and ability to want to learn new things.
Because schools don’t have parental involvement in classrooms the way in which they once did, and because schools sadly don’t send home information to help parents learn the basics of Common Core so that they may help their children be more successful, you must employ a workaround. That workaround is going to be you re-learning mathematics! I know…I get it…Most of you have either now clicked off of this blog or are rolling your eyes while reading this. But, if you want to, as I like to say, “Parent Up“, this is the only way you’re going to do it. And besides, it will benefit your child and make you smarter as well!
That said, when I first met Common Core, I didn’t know what to do or where to begin. So here I am, looking at my child’s homework and scratching my head. My heart starts beating fast, I start sweating…before you know it I’m back in Math class and struggling, LOL. And I’m sitting there thinking, “I graduated college! How can I not do simple math?!?! What is this?”. But, where I found I differed from most was that I didn’t immediately run to Facebook and start complaining and wasting time…Instead, I said to myself, “Self, what do you do when you don’t understand something?”. The answer was LEARN IT. So, I told my child we were going to take a break from homework that day so that I could wrap my head around this and learn it myself. My child looked at me like, “What do you mean, Dad?” All the sudden, he realized I was human. I don’t know everything. I don’t have all the answers. It was a humbling moment but it was also a really cool teaching moment for him. I got to explain that even adults don’t know everything. Even adults make tons of mistakes. Even adults need to do homework. Even adults need to learn things. But I also explained that there are two different types of people in this world – those who talk or those who actually do. I explained I’m a “do-er” and that anything I don’t understand, I want to learn and learn really, really well. He nodded in agreement and seemed proud at the way I was ready to tackle a new adventure. So I let him go off and watch TV and relax in another room while I immediately went to my home office and started to research all I could about Common Core. For the next entire week, I went to all types of websites but ultimately landed on TED Talks and Khan Academy – both of which offer great understanding at the way Common Core works. The best way I personally learned is by understanding Common Core Mathematics as though you were at mile markers. For example:
If I had a problem such as 7 + 8, meaning, I’m at mile marker 7, I need to get to mile marker 15 but I don’t know it yet because say I’m only 5 or 6 years old. I say to myself, if I’m at mile marker 7, and I go to mile marker 10, I’ve moved 3 miles. I then write that down. That’s easy. Then, I have to travel only 5 more simple miles and now I find myself at mile marker 15.
Listen, I get it… To show a child the “granny style” of 8+7 is a heck of a lot quicker than Common Core. It’s true. It is simpler. But if that’s your thought, you’re then missing the point of Common Core.
The Point of Common Core:
The point of Common Core is not to get to answer quickly, but to show children that there are multiple ways to get to an answer. The point of doing this is to first enhance the mathematical ability of students whom may normally struggle with math and provide a way for all students to understand the mathematical questions they are facing. Second, the goal is to show all of us that finding a solution to something doesn’t come in just one, simple form. Picture this, your child is grown up, is an adult, and is now in the business world. They and their colleagues are faced with a daunting question from their employer – on that needs to be solved so the company can succeed. Among this group, you have people of all different backgrounds, including different educational backgrounds. Everyone begins thinking and most begin trying to think extremely quickly. But, as we know of successful business, very rarely does a fast answer prove to be the best answer. But then your child steps away from the group, sits down and begins writing out the question along with a Common Core approach to an answer. While most, if not all, of the group has already provided their answer to the boss, your child steps up last with thee answer. The reason your child found thee answer to the boss’ question – the one that will truly benefit the company the most, is because your child used their knowledge of Common Core to slow everything down, evaluate the question and problem, rationalize with the question and problem and take a systematic approach to solving it. Slower? Yes. Better? Definitely Yes!
Ultimately, Common Core doesn’t have to be scary for anyone; especially your child! It’s only scary when parents begin to complain to their children about it. Figure this; this is the new “normal” for the way our children are now learning in today’s scholastic environment. And why should Common Core be scary for parents? If you don’t understand it, learn it! For instance, we tell our children to look something up or learn it if they don’t know something. To do any different when we are approached with a problem or something difficult would be hypocritical. If you don’t know something, take the time to learn it. It will benefit you, your child, and the world!