Motherhood Personal Posts

How Do You Work This Thing…Err, Kid?

Have you ever had a moment where you wished your child came with an owner’s manual? Let’s see…index: 7 year old with an attitude…page 67. Ah yes, here’s how to troubleshoot!

I have three children, and my third is far “easier” than the first two, so I’m feeling pretty good about the baby stuff right now. However, every day seems to bring a new challenge with my 7 year old. I can only hope that I will have it all figured out by the time the other two are that age!

I remember bringing my first baby home and thinking how crazy it was that they were actually sending me home to care for this tiny person!! We had to attend a “class” in order to be discharged, but that was essentialy talk of umbilical cord stumps and baby poop. I am so grateful to be raising children in the internet age. Is anyone else willing to ‘fess up to Googling things like “is … normal” or “what causes green baby poop?”

Now I find myself looking up first grade math online. I actually love math; it kills me when I hear kids say “pssht, when will I ever use this?” I use math all the time! In the grocery store to figure out unit prices, sales and tax. I use geometry when we’re working on home improvement projects, and I use algebra pretty much daily; or multiples times per day back when we were dealing with mortgage scenarios.

I did fine with Calculus in High School, but some of my first grader’s homework has me stumped. The K-2 math curriculum is really different than what I remember (granted, that was a long time ago!) and I’ve had to brush up to help her. She recently brought home a worksheet of “balancing equations.” The equations looked like this:


My husband and I were both shocked. What the heck? Are they doing algebra with two variables in first grade?? After a few minutes, we finally figured out that they were just trying to show kids that 18-5 is the same as 7+6 like this:


I’m glad that my daughter’s teacher this year emails a newsletter each week telling us what they are working on, but I sure wish they would tell us exactly what (and how!) they are teaching them, and teach us too. It’s hard to help when you have no idea what they are doing! Thank goodness for Google. We’ve found some great games for her to play online, and even flash cards to print.

I thought helping my daughter with her homework would be a breeze. After all, I was a great student, was excellent in math & English, and she’s even going to the same school I attended. I’m starting to get worried about second grade.

How about you? Has there been anything difficult about parenting that you didn’t anticipate having trouble with? Or does everything come naturally? (hmph)

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • Beth
    April 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    We home school this year (1st grade) and I’m SO glad I do. They have to be taught 3 DIFFERENT ways to add out here, which means the kids learn one way, then they have to figure out how to do it a different way, and one of them is by using logic, which many of the kids don’t understand anyway. Another way is by adding backwards (for doing tens, you’d start with the 10s then go to the 1s, yeah, just crazy). So, I just taught my daughter one way, a way she fully understood, and made perfect sense to her. My mom is a 1st grade teacher and she complains about how crazy math has become for 1st graders.

    • April 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      I can’t remember if DH’s Aunt is 1st grade…I need to grill her, LOL.

  • Jenny
    April 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I was a teacher and I always found it helpful to do the first homework problem together. That way there was an example for when they got home as well as a quick refresher before class ended. Good luck!

    • April 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      That’s a great idea!

  • Megan
    April 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I taught middle school math and it was so frustrating because I would have to spend time (a lot of it) on multiplication facts. Even in the advanced classes my students often had trouble multiplying.

    I’m all for hands on learning and using real world examples – and often used them, but things like simple multiplication facts MUST be memorized. You can’t do algebra, or just about any math, if you don’t know your multiplication facts.

    That is one of the biggest frustrations teaching middle school. Why don’t they know it already?!?!

    • Rebecca
      April 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      I used to teach 7th grade and high school and this is so true! They relied on the calculator too much and would get so upset when I wouldn’t let them use it!

      • April 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm

        I can do most math without a pen & paper. Huge advantage in life…negotiating a price on a car, making sure you weren’t overcharged at a store…what do they do when they don’t have a calculator?

    • April 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      Exactly! how in the world do you do anything if you don’t know 8×9 by heart? Find 3 other people so you can count on fingers & toes?

  • April 18, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I have zero idea why (and I did teach elementary school for 6 years back before the mom years) but in my state they are teaching a “new way to add” I have yet to figure it out and I graduated top of my class. instead of lining up numbers to add and subtract like we always did (think carry the one, add down, next column) they use squares, rectangles and circles to add and subtract. Something like 10 + 12 would be two rectangles and two circles? When you get to big numbers like adding thousands it’s just ridiculous. I have taught both my girls how to add the old fashioned way and I get “wow that’s SO much easier mom!” I use google daily for how to help with a homework problem to is ….normal! I don’t know how we are alive since our parents had to wing it!

    • April 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      My daughter’s class did, ummm, what did they call them. Darn. Anyway they were squares and I thought it was good to relate to the old 10+8=18 thing to show them that there is one ten and eight ones, but good lawd, are these kids going to be in the grocery store when they are 30 trying to find enough fingers to count? LOL Sometimes I think just memorizing and knowing that whatever plus whatever is whatever makes sense!!

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