Math math

Developmental stuff and teaching kids in larger classes where you just don’t have a lot of time or resources for differentiation is so interesting and also so frustrating.

At age almost-9 and 3rd grade, Anand has 2 pages of math homework most nights. (Insert standard rant about how elementary school homework studies show that assigning homework at this age is more likely counterproductive than useful, and wondering what pressures are on teachers that so many of them persist in assigning homework anyway, etc.)

Last year, we mostly didn’t have him do homework because his teacher didn’t care if it was done or not. The year before, we had a teacher who cared a lot, and would make Anand skip recess to do it, despite our protests to the teacher / principal, and so we regretfully made Anand do homework at least some of the time, and it was often an hour-long misery fest for everyone involved.

But this year, everything’s different. The homework is super easy for him; Anand can do all the actual multiplication in his head in a few seconds. But it turns out that if he isn’t resisting, or crying, or goofing off to extremes, or otherwise trying to find ways to be less incredibly bored by it, Anand can actually power through a page of it in 2-5 minutes. (Mostly depending on whether they make him draw the arrays or not. Drawing takes time.) It’s a useful life skill to be able to power through super boring stuff.

So mostly, we sit down with Anand, have him do it, he’s done in 5-10 minutes, and it doesn’t feel like torture, so he’s not super-resistant to doing it again the next day (though we do get a few big sighs). And it’s not torture for us either, which is not an insignificant blessing; our days are long and hard enough, thanks.

And yes, it’s still probably a waste of all of our time (see rant in first paragraph above), and we do have to periodically have conversations with Anand about why they make him do so much repetitive math, in-school and out, and we are really hoping that at some point this year he tests into a faster-moving math that is teaching him things he doesn’t already know. Anand has decided that he’s actually going to try on the test next time, because maybe it will be less boring if that happens.

But if not, I think we can survive this.

2 thoughts on “Math math”

  1. I agree homework is mostly a waste of time at that age. Especially homework that takes a long time. I’m not sure the studies have entirely caught up with modern education however and how little time is actually spent teaching real content in school. As far as I can tell, the time spent actually teaching content has dropped precipitously since our days and if you want your kid well educated you have to make up the time somewhere. So the busywork homework is a waste, but homework emphasizing basic skills (like multiplication tables) isn’t. Or that is my opinion. You just can’t have too much of it.

    I find it funny though that my kid is assigned less time in homework in 7th grade than in 2nd grade however.

    Rite learning is another topic. I’ll say though that I think the modern education model which says tote learning is bad has been taken to an unhealthy extreme. Sorry education experts, but kids really do need to be able to do addition/multiplication etc by rote in adult life and learning it early does help.

    Learning to power through the boring is also, as you said, a major skill everyone needs to learn. Glad this year is better and luck to Anand in testing. We finally got Katie back where she belongs in math (2 years ahead) and for the first time in years she isn’t bored in math. It helps. Now we just have to deal with frustration instead of boring.

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