So today I get an email from my daughter's teacher who is extremely concerned because my child received a 48 out of 100 on her math test. My heart, I promise you, dropped clear out of my chest. I didn't enter into a full-blown panic but there was a panic somewhere on the edge of my consciousness. A 48?! My child is in a gifted program so, automatically, I'm freaking out that she's not keeping up. So I'm thinking: are the other children keeping up? What if she's the only one failing?! Oh my God! What am I going to do?!
That "Oh my God!" of course was all about me and came from full acknowledgement of my aversion to math. What if, like me, my daughter was math deficient? I had received counseling in college just so I could earn my six required credits in mathematics. (The counseling department called it a Math Confidence [Anxiety] Group). So I arranged the phone conference with her teacher, requested that she send the test home, and wondered exactly how I was about to help my child.
With intense dread and a decent amount of fear, I took out my daughter's test as soon as we got home and lost my freakin' mind. I can't tell you what I saw on that paper. I can only tell you that it was like nothing I had seen before. All my life, even when mathematics became an absolute nightmare, I understood what addition and subtraction was. I even, in my traumatized childhood mind, got multiplication and division. I learned multiplication tables like a dutiful child and practiced my fractions in spite of my constant confusion. I actually adapted to word problems fairly easily since, although I hated the problem part I did love the words.
This math that she was doing, however, was some Common Core being that I didn't fully understand. I shouldn't have been surprised, though. The math packet that she was assigned during mid-winter break took me the whole week to figure out and some part of me still thinks that I got it wrong. One question on a test that she took earlier this year and got wrong, I simply gave up on. I had been defeated by grade school math years ago and it was defeating me yet again. More importantly, if I struggled with my daughter's math homework, how could I possibly assist her?
As an educator, I get having the same standards across state lines. I even get having higher standards so that students can do more rigorous work. I get all these educational pushes but what I don't get is that my child is already crying and saying that she isn't good in math. I at least developed a healthy distaste of math in 8th grade starting with Algebra I. Isn't my darling child too young to already dislike any school subject?
Well, tomorrow morning, I'm having the phone conference with her teacher which I am dreading as well. I'll have to remind her that it sometimes takes me a second and even a third reading before I understand my daughter's work. Maybe she'll be somewhat understanding. In the meantime, I'll have to start looking for a tutor well-versed in Common Core math because if I'm struggling with my daughter's math homework when she's in first grade, second grade is already a wrap.