A Buzzfeed video shows several parents struggling to make sense of third-grade math problems that ask students to use multiple problem-solving approaches. “Are you just trying to make me feel stupid, Common Core?” one parent asks. “The idea that [my daughter] is learning math in a total different way is intimidating to me as a parent.”
“I can’t tell you what the heck is going on,” says one dad. One of the moms draws a middle finger. “Overall feelings on Common Core math are, base-ten middle finger,” she says.
Not surprisingly, many parents are unfamiliar with problem-solving techniques that Common Core State Standards introduce. Our recent “math check” explained the changes: “It’s important for kids to learn multiple approaches to solving math problems so that they can choose the approach that works best for them and so that they develop a full understanding of the concepts before they move on to more challenging levels.”
These approaches don’t preclude students from knowing traditional problem-solving techniques, either. Jason Zimba, a lead writer of the Common Core math standards, noted earlier this year: “Students are expected to know their sums and products from memory and to be fluent with the standard algorithm for each of the four basic operations (the traditional ‘carry’ method, in the case of addition.”
Changes aside, parents shouldn’t feel like they are in the dark – or be surprised by worksheets that come home with their kids. Schools across the country are holding “math nights” to ensure that parents understand the same methods their children are being taught. From California to Missouri to Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., parents are going back to school, taking classes or practicing math online in order to be prepared to help their kids with math.
And there are any number of resources that can help parents understand what their students are learning in math class. Here are just a few:
Learn Third Grade Math in Minutes with Idaho Core Standards
The Hunt Institute teaches you how to add 199 + 199 in your head
Also check this out from Great Kids: “Can your 3rd grader do word problems with multiplication and division?”