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I Hate Everyday Math. What is the best Curriculum?

WhatapainthisisWhatapainthisis Registered User Posts: 373 Member
edited August 2008 in Parent Cafe
My son's public school began using "Everyday Math" when my son was in Kindergarten. I noticed almost right away that this was not the math that I learned. And I also went to public school, back in the 70's. And although I don't even recollect doing math homework, I somehow managed to get through statistics and calculus in college with good grades. But there have been problems with this math even in the 1st and 2nd grade that I could not explain!! Once I sent a letter to the teacher saying "I've got a doctorate, and I don't understand this. How is my 6 year old supposed to?" I also don't understand the point of teaching a child how to come up with a ballpark estimate when adding or subtracting when it actually takes less time to just teach him how to get the correct answer!!

If this is at all possible, I actually think that my son was a better speller and reader in Kindergarten-1st grade than he is now. In fact, back in Kindergarten, he spelled with almost complete accuracy. Now he struggles with it. As to math, my son is now in the 3rd grade, and he is now at the point that he hardly attempts his homework without saying "It's hard". In addition to the homework, the teacher sends home the math workbook and he has to complete anything that he didn't in class. Most of the time, once I sit down with him to point out what needs to be done, he can complete it rapidly. So he is somehow either absorbing the knowledge or he is intellectually capable despite not getting it from the teacher. It's as if he has developed such a believe that he cannot deal with the work that he gives up before he even tries.

What I see is a child who started school interested in learning, and year by year, he is beginning to hate school. I've taken away TV and video games. So now, he is allowed to play with toys until 7 PM and then he must do homework and reading until 8:30. Basically, he constructs his 3-D puzzles or practices his gymnastics in the living room. When 7:00 comes, it is still such a battle and takes longer than necessary unless I am right on him with it. He interrupts his homework to say "I'm hungry" or other things, anything to avoid it.

Lately, he is constantly saying "I hate school", and when asked why, he says "It is a waste of time". I asked him what he feels is a better use of time, and he said "playing". He's been saying since he was 4 that he wants to be a doctor, and I explained to him that he must go to school to do that. It is very easy to say "He's got a behavior problem", because his attitude towards school is a problem. But in fairness, he does go to school without a problem. He also has good reports on his behavior with other children and anything "playlike", like gym. He is not doing well in independent work and even his art teacher put "Not working to ability".

I need to point out that I don't believe that there is any learning disability here. He uses advanced vocabulary when speaking, he has a very good memory. And I don't know what to call this, but not only can he complete these 3-d puzzles for ages 12+, he works on 1000 piece flat puzzles, and he seems to know how to take apart and put ANYTHING together. But because of these problems that he is having with math in particular, I am afraid that he's going to get classified as a problem and even end up in special education classes, which I think would turn him away from school even more. As I said, his behavior towards his work, and perhaps his teacher, is passive-aggressive. He is also still very immature in many ways (jealous of attention being taken from him at home, doesn't want to throw his own garbage away, doesn't like to share).

I am absolutely dreading the parent-teacher conference coming up.

Anyhow, I am thinking that before I blame my son, perhaps I need to look more into what he is being taught, because even I have seen problems. Our school district is not considered to be a "good school district", we do not pay well, and a teacher actually said to me "We attract the worst of the worst, and we hire the best of the worst". I'd like to put him in private school, but the good ones are 10-15k a year (cannot do it) and the others are private catholic and aren't any better. And I do not want to sell my house. I am willing to supplement my son at home and I am willing to become knowledgable about what my son is learning and assist the district with information that may make positive changes for my son and others.

I am interested in anyone else's experiences with "Everyday Math". I have read that the Koreans are superior in math, because of Kumon math. Could anyone tell me what they believe is the best Math curriculum in the schools?

What about reading?
Post edited by Whatapainthisis on

Replies to: I Hate Everyday Math. What is the best Curriculum?

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    Ive heard many parents like this
  • WhatapainthisisWhatapainthisis Registered User Posts: 373 Member
    Actually, I meant that I had heard that Koreans use Singapore Math, not Kumon. I was thinking of a math center in the area.

    My son does not use the computer at home, but I would consider letting him use it for educational purposes. Can anyone recommend, based on experience, a good math/educational enrichment computer program? I've seen the "Jumpstart" programs and such in the store, but have never tried them.
  • ChedvaChedva Super Moderator Posts: 28,801 Super Moderator
    It sounds like your son may be a visual-spatial and tactile learner - he needs to see and touch things to understand how they work. (The 3D puzzles and taking apart & putting anything back together again would indicate this.) If the math is being taught as "flat-file" paper intensive, that could be a problem.

    Unfortunately, I don't remember what it was called, but my d's school used "math sticks" or something of that sort to teach early grades. There was a very tactile component to it - perhaps someone else might know what I'm talking about!

    You might want to consider something like Sylvan Learning Center or similar - not because there's a "learning disability" or anything like that, but just because they can teach to his learning style, which his school apparently doesn't.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 25,988 Senior Member
    Oh my God. How timely your post is for me. We got my 9 year old's progress report on Friday and it wasn't good. He scored in the 99th percentile in math all the years in Catholic school, but is slipping in public. He's great with multiplication, division, measurement, graphs, etc., but neither he nor I are any good at "strategies." He can sit there and perfectly well multiply three or four digit numbers, but he doesn't have to do that. He has to create a LATTICE with the numbers. On a diagonal. With lines. And then estimate. Why can't he multiply? Why isn't the RIGHT answer good enough? It's been fine up until this unit, they've dont the usual stuff and even more geometry than his sisters did, but now he has to strategize rather than calculate, and he has to write sentences and explanations. 2+2=4 because it does, that's why!!!!!
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    my older daughters school used math their way and Family math
    Marvelous Math Books!
  • midmomidmo Registered User Posts: 3,720 Senior Member
    Welcome to the math wars. They are in full swing in our school district. Everyday Math (elem.), followed by Connected Math (middle), followed by Integrated Math (4 year sequence). At about the 8th grade level, the district has been forced by parental fury to offer a traditional agebra/geometry etc track to those who insist on it. The data is now being released to the public, slowly and only because they are being forced to, that show large differences in ACT math scores between the two tracks, and traditional wins by a mile. We still have no data about the success rate in AP Calc for those who completed 4 years of Integrated Math in time to take calc in high school, but private conversations with the calc teacher lead me to believe the reform math track has been a disaster for those students.

    All of the Everyday Math, etc., programs emphasize group projects, hands-on discovery and very little problem solving. Teaching standard algorithms is anathema.

    I'm sorry you are caught up in this. In this town, Sylvan Learning Centers do a brisk business trying to undo the damage of Everyday Math.

    We managed to avoid most of the 'reform' track by placing one child in a small independent school for 4 years (6-9) and by home-schooling one for grades 3-5 when the Everyday Math program came in, full-swing. The younger one was subjected to a year of Connected Math when she returned to the public schools, and it was a total waste of time.

    zoosermom, the mixed-up ordering of subjects (e.g. geometry before most of algebra, etc.), the hallmark of Integrated Math, becomes a major problem for students who move during high school. One of my daughter's friends has moved to another state, and she was placed a couple of years behind her peers in high school math because the IM track hadn't gotten around to intermediate algebra concepts. She will be lucky to get through pre-calc by graduation, and that will only happen with summer study.
  • great lakes momgreat lakes mom Registered User Posts: 2,747 Senior Member
    Is that program also Everyday Math, which morphs in Connected Math in later grades? Big emphasis on word problems, group work, and it seemed to me, reinventing the wheel as a matter of course. They want kids to discover for themselves the reason for the sequences in solving problem. But there is little of the functional 2+2=4 that we can relate to.

    We had a big uproar when this was introduced in our schools around 7th grade. The kids hated it, both accomplished and marginal math students. they hated the emphasis on group work, the ones good in math disliked math being surrounded by an excess of words rather than reveling in the joy of the numbers alone. For those not verbally skilled or not native English speakers, it added a level of complexity. My girls, very verbally gifted, and advanced readers, didn't do any better because of their skills. They needed more out and out drill to really learn the math. There was a level of discontent with the kids, who really preferred the older systems of teaching math. So we went round and round with the school...and they still use the curriculum. Now teacher friends say there is a good reason for it, and that it works well, esp. in bringing up the lower end of the class, which is a BIG issue in our socio-economically divided community.

    We formed an afterschool study group based on the Singapore curriculum, and found a student teacher to lead it. I have no clue whether this conferred any long lasting advantages to my kids. But it seemed we needed some way to work on basic math skill building at the time.

    cross posted with midmo-very interesting about the data!
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,486 Senior Member
    EveryDay math works great IFF: the teachers are trained in that specific currriculum; & the class has enough time to complete all the manipulatives (at least an hour of math a day, which is highly unusual). It's detractors, however, call it "Fuzzy Math." (see mathematicallycorrect.com)

    But, the complete opposite of EverydayMath would be Saxon Math series, which is used by many home schoolers. Saxon has a lot of repitition, but covers the basics well. Plus, the texts aren't too expensive.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 25,988 Senior Member
    What's so confusing to me (girls went through private school so this is new), is that his teacher did an enormous amount of work on basic math skills and I think she did an amazing job. It just seems like out of the blue the curriculum became something else entirely. He sat last night practicing area, perimeter, circumference and multiple digit operations. I see nothing wrong with learning those and HOW he learned those, but this strategy nonsense makes me nuts. I'm going to talk to the teacher and see what's what.
  • corrangedcorranged Registered User Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    Not much useful to add, but I just wanted to say that one of the top teachers and administrators at my former private school said she didn't like the Everyday Math curriculum which had been introduced in the lower grades. Maybe your son's teacher doesn't even like Everyday Math. Even if she likes it, she surely has experience teaching it. Explain to her which parts of the program your son is having trouble with and see if she has any suggestions. I'm all for teaching him some basic math on the side, though. My mom did that with me in elementary school, and that's how I learned how to do most basic math.
    If this is at all possible, I actually think that my son was a better speller and reader in Kindergarten-1st grade than he is now. In fact, back in Kindergarten, he spelled with almost complete accuracy. Now he struggles with it.
    This is probably normal. He could spell very well in K because he probably had the ability to remember how words were spelled after reading them. After learning rules about the way words are spelled (including learning letters -> sounds, how to add -ing onto different words, vowel sounds, etc.), he probably needs to "re-learn" that vocabulary in the context of those rules--if that makes sense. For an analogy, many children speak with excellent grammar soon after learning to talk because they are copying the words and phrases their parents use. When the kids become a little older, their grammar often regresses for a time as they start to pick up language "rules" and try to fit the rest of English inside those rules, which is obviously insufficient.
  • 2blue2blue Registered User Posts: 1,604 Senior Member
    My son's school used Saxon Math in the lower grades. It had the math sticks Chedva referred to in post #4. It gave him a good basis.
  • eg1eg1 Registered User Posts: 647 Member
    We homeschool, and when the kids were younger we were using "Singapore math" before we'd even heard it was such a big thing here. My husband's from Malaysia, and has family in Singapore as well. When we visited his family, we'd go to bookstores (I can't survive without books). I noticed right away that the math books being sold there seemed much better than the workbooks I'd seen in our local bookstores. Anyway, the kids started taking classes at a learning center run by our local public school system, and they all tested into math classes above their grade levels. My older two liked the high school math teacher at the center, so they stopped doing math with me (their class is OK, but I hate their textbook). The younger one would have had to take classes with high schoolers, and he did not want to , so he's still with me. I am convinced they would have been behind in math, not ahead, if they'd been using district materials all along. My youngest is the most advanced in math for his age of my 3 kids, but his state test results were just average (despite qualifying for CTY). When I looked at old questions in a review book for the test, I told him I didn't even want him studying specifically for the state test because I was afraid it would make his math skills worse. The questions were very poorly written, in my opinion. I told him as long as he passes (jumps through the hoop), he shouldn't give the test another thought. I have a feeling that when the test asked him to provide two different methods of showing something like 2+2=4 (or whatever), he wrote "because it is."
  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Registered User Posts: 19,133 Senior Member
    If he's a visual/tactile learner, something supplemental to do are the games associated with Math Pentathlon. You can Google it. These are math strategy games that reinforce all kinds of concepts. At our school, a parent ran an afterschool club in second grade, then in third we found a wonderful teacher who let a parent pull out some kids once a week to work with the games. In fourth and fifth grades, a parent ran an afterschool club again, for about 30 kids.
  • WhatapainthisisWhatapainthisis Registered User Posts: 373 Member
    I've read all of the post, and to address some of them:

    I am not sure if "learning style" is hereditary, but I can say without a doubt that I have a very difficult time learning math by "listening to the teacher". I don't know if this is a deficiency in math teachers' communication skills, or my listening ability. I cannot really remember grammar school, but I was a very motivated student in college, and this was true in college. I gave up early on trying to understand what was said, I just learned every math-based class by using the book, figuring out "the formula", usually by looking at examples with the answers, and then doing my own repetitive problems. And if the assigned book was not good enough, then I'd go to the store and get study guides and other math books that were better to supplement myself. My undergraduate degree was in Accounting, and I applied this tactic in every math class (stats, calculus) and in my math-based business classes (economics, finance, accounting, etc.).

    It's nice to "get the concept", but IMHO, when it comes to math-based work, getting the right answer is all that really matters unless you are going to be a math major, and I would venture that such people figure all of that theory and creative thought out without teacher assistance as well.

    The one thing that I can honestly say that my son has not done well from day 1 was writing. Although he was a good speller and an excellent reader (in terms of word recognition, even if not comprehension necessarily), he did not like to write at all, which they made him start in Kindergarten. He was supposed to write about his favorite activity, and back then it was "I like playing video games". When asked back then what the problem was, why he didn't write it, he said "I didn't know how to spell 'video games'". So he made no effort to write anything. Now, I think that even though his vocabulary/spelling are better, he just doesn't even feel like making up sentences, no motivation. He can be ridiculously funny and creative when talking. But the other day, he had to take his spelling words and make up sentences with them. A day earlier, he had written the words out with beautiful penmanship, so the spelling wasn't the issue.

    But then again, he comes home from a long day of school, and he has hours of math, spelling, and "reading for pleasure" that he has to log. I think that if I were him, I'd hate school too. I honestly do not recall my time afterschool being like this. Like I said, I don't even remember my grammar school homework, so I doubt that it was painful! When I was in high school, I worked afterschool and had a social life.

    Even worse, taking away video games and TV during the week hasn't changed anything. In fact, his report is worse.
  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Registered User Posts: 19,133 Senior Member
    There's just no way he should be having hours of homework. What does the teacher say about how he spends his time in class. Is this "homework" really unfinished classwork?
This discussion has been closed.