First, I’d like to be clear. I’m far from unintelligent. I’m totally capable of figuring out what to tip in a restaurant, for example. It’s merely that I chose to specialize about thirty years ago on reading and writing, and the math… not so much. I was a good student, honors classes, AP classes (or class, really, it was a small high school and only one was offered). Accepted to a good college. Not stupid – that’s me.
But I was politely requested, okay, begged, really to not assist with math homework anymore. At least with Jessie.
(Jessie – back when I could still solve all her equations)
I still totally rock first grade math. I’m good until late April in fifth grade, apparently. I was brilliant at multiplication and division, and it has to be stated, I’m one hell of an adder/subtractor. Fractions? I’m kind of awesome at reducing fractions. And with the help of my friends at mathisfun.com – I was even competent at multiplying fractions. But percentages and decimals and fractions – oh my. It was a disaster.
Jessie is a smart girl. She just is. She’s intellectually curious, creative and enjoys learning. Thus far, I think she’s managed to channel Marc when it comes to math and science – it comes relatively easily to her. She occasionally asks for help, especially because she’s not so great at the whole speaking up when she doesn’t understand it and then needs additional support at home to explain a concept or two.
And that’s where it falls apart for me. Because I don’t get the math concepts so much. Basic arithmetic, I can do that. I’m good at that. And that translates well to math homework right up until… April of fifth grade, apparently.
She had this impossible worksheet the other day, double sided. I struggled thru the first page, explaining how to do it, and helping her out. Marc wasn’t home – and more and more, he’s been her math buddy. When she needs a math buddy, that is. But he was working, and it was due the next day – so I stepped up. The flip side of the page, though, I couldn’t, for the life of me figure it out. It was converting fractions and decimals and percents back and forth and sideways… made no sense to me at all. I know that Marc knows this stuff like the back of his hand, so I had her put it aside, and he showed her how to do it the next day.
She went into school, completely confident and knowing how to do it. Because Marc is, after all, awesome at math and once she figured out how to do it, she was great and finished the rest of the sheet herself.
But sadly, was sent home with an extra worksheet to practice the concepts, because every single problem that I had “helped” her with was wrong.
Last night, I sat next to Sam and kept him company while he did his first grade math homework. And was VERY helpful when he asked what 9+7 was, or what 18-6 was – because dammit, I know that there’s apparently a small window where I can actually answer those homework questions before they surpass me.