One of my former tutoring students posted this recently on Instagram as some homework that they are currently being given at the end of Grade Six (age 11-12). His comment was about hating homework.

Thank goodness I did not have to teach in this manner when I taught in an overseas American School. About three years ago (well after I left and started a tutoring business), the school I taught in revamped to the new “Common Core” curriculum, which apparently de-emphasizes calculations, and where students are required to spend more than 50% of their time explaining reasons why things are done–in English words. Yet, many students are still unable to add, subtract, multiply, or divide correctly, even by the end of elementary school.

In my own 30 years’ experience teaching–it’s not that I OBJECT to students knowing the reason why something will work–however, my personal conclusion is that many students have trouble in primary math because of:

1. **Brain maturation issues**. A few students can master time and problems with time, place value and what each place means relative to each other, etc., at the time it is first taught (age 7); but most are not able to really get it until about age 10, no matter how much time is spent on these subjects at a younger age.

2. **Needing individualized help**. Some students need *what seem like* simple processes broken down into much smaller steps; followed by putting those smaller steps back together, to get to mastery. One teacher in a full classroom may have time difficulties doing this for students who need this extra help.

3. **Concrete vs. abstract thinking**. Young students are mostly concrete thinkers who do better at younger ages (in my opinion) with concrete math tasks. The worksheets like in the picture above now start in Grade 2 (age 7). Some students just don’t have the abstract thinking abilities required for these tasks at this age; in some cases, they don’t have the language ability in English, if they speak more than one language (as all students in overseas schools do).

What do others think of this sort of homework?

**–Lynne Diligent**

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Tags: Primary math education, student problems with Common Core Math, teaching maths

This entry was posted on September 2, 2018 at 8:01 am and is filed under Education, Elementary Education, Math Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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September 3, 2018 at 4:11 am |

Couldn’t agree with you more… as a homeschool mom, I’ve noticed a lack of emphasis on computation in math curricula, and my observation concurs with yours – children who don’t receive enough practice work in these basic skills struggle with them, no matter how much you try to explain the “why” behind the skills. I can’t believe the worksheet above is designed for 7-year-olds – that seems insane. I wonder how well these kids do with multi-digit addition and subtraction problems…wouldn’t be surprised to find they don’t have as much success as they could if they were being better taught.

September 8, 2018 at 3:18 pm |

Wow, if you mastered the basic skills yet, how can you confidently do any of this? ________________________________