It’s confusing to us because we were taught a completely different way to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
All right, millennial and Gen X moms, hear us out. The new way our kids do math is confusing for us but it does make a lot of sense when you understand it. It's confusing to us because we were taught a completely different way to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. The big change in the way American mathematics is taught started in 2010 with the introduction of common core math. Maybe you're young enough to have been taught it but those who left the public school before just didn't understand.
Parents were left scratching their heads with this new instruction. Math had been taught the same way in the US for decades until this 2010 change. So, while we, and our parents, were taught math by memorizing equations and formulas to solve our number problems, our kids have been introduced to a new type of math called the Common Core State Standards in mathematics. Why would they ever change math you ask? It wasn't just to confuse you.
At first glance, the questions our kids are asked and the way they solve the problem are extremely confusing. Educators all over the US came together to develop this new curriculum because they saw a need for change in math. They wanted every student to be proficient in math and what we had been doing wasn't working. Common core standards were designed to make sure students were both college and career-ready upon graduation. 41 states now use the common core state curriculum in their schools.
A Prodigy article explained the main goals of common core standards:
To do this, students are now taught math in ways that really make them think about how numbers work, what order they are in, and build a strong foundation of numbers. Students of our generation would often rush through math problems completing steps and getting the right answer without really understanding the concept behind it. In order to pass a math class, students could get by without being able to explain how they got there.
Common Core uses learning tools at the introduction of math in kindergarten such as number lines and visually breaking numbers down into tens and ones, and using "landmark numbers" to solve problems quickly. Students are taught to round numbers to the nearest "landmark" such as 25, 50, 100, 200, etc. Students are also taught about "friendly" numbers like 40, 30, 40, 50, etc., to round to when using odd or unfamiliar numbers like 57. Another common core strategy from a Parents article is "making 10's" wherein problems you look to make 10 for quick solving. In 2+4+8+3, add 8+2=10, then quickly add in 4 and 3 to get 17.
As a parent, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with this new math even if it seems impossible. Here's an example of a second-grade-level math question. Let's do 47+22. Millennials were taught to line up the numbers and carry over the extra. We add 4+2 to get 6 and 7+2 in to get 9. Lined up properly that is 69 and is found by memorizing numbers.
In Common Core, students would round the 47 up to the friendlier 50 and round 22 down to a friendlier 20. Then add 50+20 to get 70. We added 3 so need to take that away from 70. 70-3=67. Then we took away two so that needs to be added back into the equation. 67+2=69. It takes longer to get there, but when students have these concepts down they can problems quickly, efficiently and explain how they got there.
Source: Common Core State Standards, Prodigy, Parents
Larissa Marulli is a mom to two young school-aged kids. She received a degree in journalism shortly before having her first child and is a news and features writer for Moms. The proud mom of two is from Colorado and loves the mountains. changing seasons, and hot coffee all year round. Larissa has seen it all and has struggled with the challenges of motherhood. She is getting better with age and prides herself in using the written word to entertain others as well as educate. Larissa loves books, napping, people in small doses, and her family.