I have a granddaughter in 8th grade.  Her parents couldn’t help her with math so they sent her to me.  I have a college degree in engineering. Helping her with math should be rewarding and enjoyable.

Math changed

The first day I knew I was in for a challenge. Common Core math problems are not solved the way they were when I studied math in 1960, not even close.  As I began helping with her with homework, a great divide came between us.

They don’t subtract one number from another by borrowing and carrying numbers.


They start with the number to be subtracted. Then add numbers to this in several steps until they reach the value of the number they are subtracting from. Lastly, add up all the numbers in the previous steps to get the answer. Confusing? Yes, and this is simple subtraction of one number from another.

Algebra and Geometry

Next came functions, geometric figures, and transformation. I learned this in high school and college.  However, I couldn’t help my granddaughter, because the methods used to solve these problems are drastically different with the Common Core math.

She needs help and I won’t let her down.  I have to learn completely different ways to solve problems than I currently know.

Thank goodness for the internet

The way we study homework now is totally different from what I imagined.  I take a copy of her homework and use the internet to figure out how to solve the problems with the new methods.  At the same time she works on another copy of the home work.

When we are both done, we compare our work and try to solve any differences.  Many times our answers differ. More often than not, I’m the one with the wrong answer.  We watch internet video instructions on some math site.  Read over her math notes and together discuss the differences until we agree on the proper answer.

It’s as if we are taking the class together and helping each other figure this all out.


Students definitely need help

 She needs and wants my help with education.  In fact, having to explain things to me as we work through this may help her the most. 

It’s a very hard process for parents and students to make these transitions.  Good or bad, we have to hang in there and try.