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The surprising way parents are helping their children with their homework
If you thought calculating a tip at a restaurant is a struggle, you havent seen the math homework kids are bringing home these days. - photo by Shelby Slade
If you think calculating a tip at a restaurant is a struggle, you havent seen the math homework kids are bringing home these days.

Common Core is teaching students math in new ways, which is leaving parents baffled and unable to keep up with their kids education, Alia Wong reported for The Atlantic.

Its like having a nightmare where youre trying to help your child over some hurdle but youre given foreign instructions like use a multiplication fact as place value as another way to multiply by a multiple of 10. (Thats a real math problem), Lifehacker writer Melanie Pinola explained.

However, this nightmare is causing some interesting changes for parents. Theyre going back to school, taking classes or practicing math online to be able to better help their children.

For example, school districts are offering parent nights to teach adults the new math strategies, Khan Academy has a video series on the subject and there are many guidebooks being released about Common Core. Suffolk County Community College in New York has even started a multiple week course for parents, Wong reported.

Nina Leonhardt, who created the math course at Suffolk, said while the math strategies may be very different for parents, its supposed to help children make math more applicable to their lives.

You always hear people say, I cant do math, I dont like math. Why do I need it? Leonhardt said to The Atlantic. The reality is that if they understand how it is applied to the real world then perhaps its not so ancillary; its a basic skill that should be acquired. There are applications to daily life and to the workplace and to the critical-thinking skills cited over and over again by employers.

Common Core standards and their strategies are a far cry from the way most parents were taught when they were in school. Even more than that, its especially difficult to see your child struggling to grasp a concept and not be able to help them.

However, studies show parents helping their children with homework may do more harm than good.

Researchers measured the academic impact of 63 different ways parents try to help with their childrens education, Dana Goldstein reported for The Atlantic. The majority of them didnt help students get better grades or test scores.

The study showed that helping children with their homework, especially after they reach middle school, may bring their scores down because parents may not understand the work they are doing.

The only two ways parents were able to really help children were to read aloud with them and talk to them about college and career plans.

After many tense nights trying to help her son with his homework, author Judith Newman decided that perhaps the way she thought things should be done and the way her son was being told to do things were at odds, she wrote in The New York Times.

Her sons assistant principal, Michael Goldspiel, told her struggling with homework is part of the process of learning and being a good student.

Being wrong is part of the process of understanding, he said. Going out on a limb, being willing to take a chance, is a critical skill not just for homework, but for life.
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