I’m not an expert on Common Core. I’m simply a mom and this post is about my experience with the Common Core based on how my home school CHOOSES to implement it.
These are my observations:
1. Common Core proves that children are indeed smarter than their parents. I used to think I was fairly intelligent and equally as smart as a fifth grader. However, the Common Core standards enlightened me to the fact that I’m not even as smart as a first grader. The new way kids have to complete subtraction problems is akin to figuring out Da Vinci’s code. The kids have to not only solve the subtraction problem using three different methods at once, but they also have to figure out the related subtraction AND addition sentences. What? I studied psychology because I sucked at math. I can’t figure out what the question is much less the answer. Thank God my son paid attention in class and could explain to me what he had to do.
2. Trees are on the verge of becoming extinct. My six year-old’s take home folder is typically filled with worksheets printed directly from the Common Core website. He also has daily quizzes and math drill sheets mixed in there too. Last year, my oldest son’s fourth grade teacher sent home packets of information to help parents understand their child’s math homework. The waste of paper is astonishing. Please for the love of our trees, quit with the worksheets!
3. The blame game between parents and teachers has intensified. During after-school pick up, I’ve been a part of or eavesdropped on passionate debates about Common Core. Sometimes it feels like a full on war is about to break out with worksheets flying everywhere. On Facebook it’s even worse. At least once a day I have a status update in my news feed of an angry parent voicing their frustration towards a teacher and their teaching style. In the same news feed I have teacher friends posting updates about their frustration with the lack of parental involvement and how it is impacting their students. But you know whose voice is missing from these great debates…the children.
4. Fun Friday is no longer fun. The exception being my son’s awesome fifth grade teacher who does a science experiment EVERY Friday. Shout out to Mrs. Oertel! However, last year when my other son was in Kindergarten, the poor thing had homework EVERY Friday. It wasn’t even ‘fun’ homework. You guessed it…MORE worksheets! Breaking news…giving kids down time will not stunt their academic gains. Childhood is supposed to be fun! Sometimes we have to give kids a chance to be kids.
5. School is all about that test. ’Bout that test. They’re bringing standards back…or are they? The idea behind Common Core is that the US has fallen behind our international counterparts when it comes to college and workforce readiness. The constant testing is meant to closely monitor kid’s progress to make sure they keep them on par with other countries. In theory this makes sense. Who wouldn’t want their child to be prepared for success?
Here’s the thing. The constant testing continually challenges a child’s sense of self, especially if they base their self-worth on how well they perform academically. I’m all for testing to see where the child is at to assess areas that need improvement. However, I hate those progress charts they send home that tells you where your child is compared to other students. In this day and age, kids are under enough pressure. They don’t need the added stress of a visual chart every quarter reminding them that they don’t measure up.
Adjusting to the Common Core standards has been challenging at times. It hasn’t all been bad. It’s forced me to spend more individual time with my children. My son looks forward to the alone time with me, even if it means playing sight word games. Additionally, it’s amazing watching my children’s confidence grow as they master a concept that initially frustrated them.
The main tip I can offer parents is to not get caught up in the Common Core madness. Teachers might have to focus on test scores, but you don’t have to. Let home be the place your child learns core life lessons about their worth and what truly matters. Our kids are more than numbers and statistics. It’s our job to remind them of this.