This is a long post but worth it if you are interested in education!
In second grade, Sydney gets math homework four days per week, sometimes receives a one-page sheet on reading or writing, and is expected to read on her own 20 minutes per day. While I don’t remember ever having homework in grade school at all, I don’t find this to be too much as the homework is easy and she can complete it (sans reading, which we do anyway) in 20 minutes.
Sydney was also selected as one of three students in her class of 12 to participate in a 45-minute advanced class once per week, nine students in total from the three second-grade classes. That is not a long class but each week Sydney gets an additional 2 – 4 pages of homework, which is much more difficult, from this class. Here is one page from this week’s homework. Can you do it?
Struggling With Homework
Last week Sydney came home with homework that was related to price comparisons. Which is cheaper, this size yogurt for $1 or this size yogurt for $2? However, the problems were relatively complex and Sydney didn’t really understand the basic concept. She was not able to do her homework on her own, which is typical for her advanced class math homework.
So I worked with her on this for about an hour, which is also typical. We did simple problems that were relatively easy and more complex problems where it was not easy to compare. Here is the third of three practice sheets I created for Sydney to help her learn these concepts. There are six problems and you compare the left side to the right side.
After doing this homework last Friday, we went to Dawn and Kayla’s house (our only pandemic buddies for indoor gatherings). Kayla asked a question about math, I started to help her work through the problem, and Sydney said “I don’t like math.”
I waited 24 hours to respond and then asked Sydney why she said she did not like math. “It is too hard,” was the response. “What is too hard: regular math class, regular math homework, advanced math class, or advanced math homework?” The answer, as you guessed, was advanced math homework.
My belief with all kids’ activities, whether it be soccer, ballet, or math, is that it is more important they like something than that they are good at it. At least at this age. Sydney’s answer was upsetting to me. And I very much understood why she thought the advanced math homework was too difficult. So I made a deal with Sydney. “I will help you with advanced math homework so it is not as difficult and if there are some subjects you don’t understand, we will leave those questions blank.” We were both satisfied with this plan.
That was last weekend and we have not done advanced math homework since. However, when Sydney came home on Wednesday she told me that in advanced math she had answered a question correctly that the other eight kids got wrong. It went something like this:
“Bob purchased eight bananas for $2.00 and Elizabeth purchased 12 bananas for $3.00. Who found the better price on bananas?” The teacher then asked “Who thinks Bob found the better price on bananas?” Most of the class raised their hands. “Who thinks Elizabeth had the better price on bananas?” A couple kids raised their hands. “Who has a different answer?” Sydney raised her hand and explained the answer.
So what does that tell me?
- I was very proud of Sydney. She was proud herself.
- Our extra work on last week’s homework paid off.
- Other parents are not spending the same amount of time on the advanced homework with their kids.
- It is a balancing act to learn while keeping it fun.