That’s where Bill Hanlon comes in. Hanlon is director of the Regional Professional Development Program of Southern Nevada, created by the Nevada Legislature to help train teachers. But he’s also providing education for parents — free classes to help them understand math the way their kids are learning it.
“The problem is that Common Core is teaching kids different ways to add and multiply and divide,” Hanlon said, referring to the new set of educational standards. “My goal is to teach parents the kids’ ways so they don’t get frustrated when helping their kids.”
Castle’s experience is not unusual. One of the most common concerns Clark County School Board member Stavan Corbett hears from parents is that they struggle to help their kids with homework. That issue creates a problem on two fronts — the kids lose confidence in learning and parents stop being engaged in education.
And math is often the subject creating that barrier.
This is not a new problem, and it’s not exclusive to Nevada, Hanlon said. Math homework has haunted parents for generations, most often because they haven’t taken classes in 20 years and their skills have grown weak. They need a refresher.
“What he teaches is a way to think about numbers to understand what’s going on, and ways to approach them to solve problems,” School Board President Erin Cranor said. “That’s what these new higher expectations are about, as well. It’s perfect timing.”
Hanlon’s class will begin with simple arithmetic, then he’ll tackle middle school math and, finally, algebra. At each level, he plans to break down the ways kids are learning the subject in school and why. He’ll interpret math phrases such as “add-add method” and “tape diagram.”
This isn’t the only type of parent outreach going on, but this is the first program I have seen that taught parents math. I have some mixed feelings about this.
On one hand If a school district does have to be subjected to these standards it is good that they are providing parent support. I commend them for seeing a need and trying to meet that need. This is a major area of frustration.
On the other hand, it is incredibly sad that this was needed. Granted there are parents that could use the support regardless as their kids get into more advanced math, but parents having difficulty with elementary math is an inexcusable aspect of the Common Core Math Standards and curriculum (which is the vast majority of the publishers) aligned to it.