Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Re-Education

When I was a kid, I loved math. Although I remember having a slight difficulty memorizing my multiplication facts, and being initially confused by fractions, once those hurdles were crossed I was golden. Well, to be honest I do recall being slightly thrown by math once I hit middle school (I think it was just the middle school adjustment that was throwing me for a loop; in other words I might not have been paying that much attention). But by eighth grade I was in the advanced math class and cruising right along.  I guess my love for math didn't really surface until high school, when I swooned over algebraic equations and geometric calculations. Yes, I'm serious. It was like solving a puzzle; I thought it was fun. Then the second half of my junior year I had a horrid teacher for trigonometry and the joyful ride was over. I was so lost by the end of the year (I think I got a B as my final grade, my only B in a high school math class) that I gave up and didn't take math my senior year. Back in the olden days, only three years of math was required to graduate. I never took a math class in college. My very last semester of college I somehow tested out of the math requirement. Those years of math bliss paid off, I suppose.

Fast forward many years and most of that math I learned in high school is totally lost to me. I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, as long as there are no trick questions. But being a parent of school-aged kids has quickly convinced me that I am now a math idiot. Oh, how the mighty fall. Bethany is in fifth grade and I'm not sure I should admit this, but I've been having trouble helping her with her math homework for awhile now. Like since before fifth grade. To be fair to myself, they have different ways of teaching math nowadays. They use different terminology, and it's all very confusing for someone like me who hasn't had a math class in a long time.

Luckily, the modern world has offered me a couple life lines. Email is one, and websites featuring math games is another. I love being able to easily communicate with my kids' teachers whenever I want, without having to call to schedule an appointment. I regularly email them about various questions and concerns, and they are always great about getting back to me right away. So if there is a question about homework, we can usually get it resolved pretty quickly. They're also good about giving us clueless parents (please tell me I'm not the only one!) links to online resources. Whether it's first grade math or fifth grade math, there are several websites out there dedicated to making math fun and more understandable for kids. They provide lots of practice, which is fantastic. My fingers are crossed that there are websites that cover more advanced math for middle school and high school students. I'm hoping my kids won't need my help with their math homework as they get older and it gets more difficult (am I dreaming?), but if they do, I'll need all the assistance I can find.

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