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When Homework is Too Hard…for the Parents

When Homework is Too Hard…for the Parents

Max is in first grade. Last year, he had homework from time to time, but now he has it every night. It’s usually just one worksheet, nothing major and most of the time it’s math homework. Not only is this his first year of nightly homework, it’s also the first year our state (CT) has adopted the Common Core Curriculum. Without getting into too much detail, Common Core was put into place to level the playing field and prepare all students for success in college and beyond irregardless of geography or economic situation. Basically the thought is that all kids should be taught all skills the same way.

What it means for me is that I no longer understand how to do first grade math. Addition and subtraction are no longer taught by grouping unifix cubes or by counting bears. Now they use number bonds. Before this year I had never heard of a number bond, nor do I have any idea what they mean and I actually have a background in education.

It’s toward the end of the  year, and Max has started coming home with homework that looks like this:

 First Grade Math Homework

I just can’t wrap my head around how to help him with these types of issues. He does have planning issues and struggles with math, I know that. But I don’t. And I can’t figure out A) why they need to learn math this way or B) how to help him understand what he’s supposed to do. For my concrete, black and white 6 year old thinker, this type of work where you have to make assumptions about numbers and follow multiple steps to simply add or subtract just isn’t working.

I chatted with his teacher at conferences and we agreed to give Max different homework, more in line to his skill level and what HE needs to work on, but I know this isn’t the best long term solution…nor does it fit into the one size fits all educational system we’re moving toward. It’s a big adjustment from his child care experience at Bright Horizons where it was asked not “how smart is this child” but “how is this child smart”.  As a parent, I’m frustrated and worried about not only his future, but that of all the kids who learn like him.

What has your experience with too hard for you homework been? Have you reached out to the teacher for a tutorial?



  1. Nicole November 12, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Please stop perpetuating the myth that Common Core is a curriculum. It is purely a set of standards, and each state (or district, depending on the state) can choose how to teach their students. For more information, US News had a good article:

    • Carrie November 12, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Why do you say Stop calling it a curriculum when that is what ALL the teachers are calling it? My child too is having difficulty wrapping her head around Common Core Math, she was top of her class last year and now is struggling and “hates” math. I’ve met with her teacher after school, since waiting for the “conferences” would be another month of her falling behind. We met, she showed me a few things, I came away confused. How am I supposed to help her if I don’t understand it myself? Oh yeah, look at videos on YouTube.

  2. Sharon Fields November 12, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This looks like basic algebra. Seems a little early to be doing it in 1st grade.

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