September 5, 2008

Homework 101

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Making Math as Easy as Pie
In college, I was an English major for a very good reason: I could barely pass math. Don't get me wrong. I can figure out how to take 30 percent off an item at my beloved Target, but that's the extent of my math skills, at least without a calculator. So by the time my daughter Ally entered fourth grade and began studying fractions, I knew I was in trouble. Numerators, denominators, greatest common factors, least common multiples -- it was all Chinese to me ... and I studied French in school. Read more.

Homework Hero
"Whoop, whoop, whoop," my 6-year-old Trevor said, spinning his ruler atop his pencil. "Here comes the helicopter, coming in for a rescue." "Save me! Save me!" he shouted, grabbing his green crayon to skip across his desk, pretending it was an "army man" running across a field. The crayon fell over and a chip flew off. "I'm hurt! Get me outta here!" I've always relished my son's imaginative abilities -- and realized he was in the middle of quite a war -- but I knew I had to get him focused on his homework. Read more.

Math for Mommies
"Can you help me with my math homework?" Julia, my fourth-grader, asks. I smile as I turn to read a word problem, but what initially shows the promise of being a pleasurable parenting moment quickly dissolves. As Julia looks up at me patiently, I feel myself sliding into a full-blown panic. I am at a complete loss for words or, to be more precise, numbers, and have no idea how to begin to help her with this math problem. Read more.

Homework Halftime
Just after 3:40, Caitlin and Ellie tumble off the bus and pour in the back door. The talk is all of growling tummies and a new tire swing stunt called "jelly bean." Finally, I bring up homework. "What have you got tonight?" I ask with dread. Two pages of math each. One has a paragraph to write and reading time to log. One has a set of worksheets to finish by Friday. I anticipate a lot of oversight to get through all of this, and I'm not far off. Read more.

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