Meredith Gavin, a parent in New York State, emailed me this morning with a video she made of her third grade son, Liam, doing his math homework.Ā She wrote:

This is a prime example of how my sonās brain gets confused, when he is given homework that entails knowing several different concepts that he struggles with, and then those concepts are mixed together – he even struggles with taking 0 away from 5.

I will recognize that even if this Math HW was not based around CC he would still be having a hard time. I will also add that CCSS is not helping special ed kids in any- way, shape, or form. They are rushing him through 3rd grade lessons without a solid foundation, and I truly believe it is BECAUSE of Common Core.

She said this video was the result of months of frustrations she has had with him coming home not being able to complete his homework.Ā Meredith also said, āthis video is a PRIME example of how it is causing the āI can’t do itā mentality in kids with special needs, and I’m guessing, even ones that do not even have the capability without accommodations and modifications.ā

My son was never diagnosed special needs. In first grade (2012) they started using Common Core math. The first six weeks they did addition. The next 6 weeks they did subtraction. Then there was adding two numbers in a column. Then we moved onto adding three numbers in a column. Then there was subtracting two numbers in a column. My son was so lost he would come home and scream at me because he didn’t have a clue how to do any of it. They never memorized their addition facts – or their subtraction facts – before the end of the year, they just kept going – because it made them better critical thinkers and it was harder. Interesting. It didn’t work for him on any level. In fact, after he was home schooled last year (wasn’t going through that again) and he was exposed to some Kumon tricks of the trade, we found out he has the equivalent of mathematical dyslexia. The Common Core really would have helped my kid! Helped him NEVER LEARN MATH and BE DUMB AS A POST that is!

I’ve looked at the math standards for high school (where I can look at them without falling asleep, frankly — I am too bored by the elementary standards) and they look pretty good. It would be great if “all students” can meet those standards, in fact it would be a miracle. We would indeed be up with China and India, but they have genetically homogeneous populations and we don’t. And they don’t have anywhere near the issues we do with autism and other odd developmental issues.

It follows that special educational support will have to ADJUST and probably INCREASE to help kids keep up with these standards. And I think they must have left something out, because I just heard an interview with one of the people setting the math standards, and they said the facts (at least multiplication table) ARE in the standards.

The standards do look mathematically appropriate and likely to waste less time on pointless stuff that isn’t really math. In that version of the standards, I think the standards are an improvement. But we’ll need to support students to keep up with them, especially in detecting and working with disabilities.

I think the emphasis on language in the word problems may be his problem as well as many children without IEPs using Common Core. If he doesn’t have problems with doing the problems on a sheet “dedicated to subtraction with borrowing” he probably understands math in its linear form and could be quite good at math outside deciphering the language of the word problem. In time, as he and all kids develop better reading comprehension skills, the word problems become easier. Common Core is developmentally inappropriate for all kids, just look at kindergarten.

I agree 100%, not only are the word problems too complicated for their neurological development, the time is wasted when drilling basics should be done at the younger ages. Kids don’t care about the process of a word problem, they want to get the homework finished and go out and play.

The look on Liam’s face at 3:05 is heartbreaking and totally unnecessary. How many ADULTS figure out problems like this one by converting hours to minutes and then subtracting? Why are they complicating what should be simple, intuitive processes?

School does not teach the way (most) humans are designed to learn. Other than the most basic of skills, did YOU actually learn enough to justify the sacrifice of 13 years of your life…without your consent?? I didn’t.

As a prelude, I have a kid with an autism IEP too. Different set of challenges in some ways, same in others. My kid had way less physical coordination at that age, but he’s pretty good at math. His response to frustration looks similar to your kid.

He’s just had a hard time preparing for a year-end exam. I think we just got it done. He went through many moments that looked like what you describe at home — and worse. We have spent a lot of time together on those tough times.

But it was necessary, and it worked!! My son is learning the math. The school does a lot for him with the IEP, and he works very hard on it, and he gets there. It looked like Liam worked very hard, had to deal with frustration, and he got there too. He solved the problem with some help from you, and he learned from it. Keep on solving those problems, and he will learn from it.

To be honest I didn’t see a failure here. I saw a success. A typical successful step on a long hard road — but you both will be so glad you persevered, because this knowledge will be a treasure to him later and he WILL be able to build on it. Please stick with him on this. It’s not really a common core issue, it’s a matter of learning the material (whichever curriculum it is) and dealing with frustration (which he did rather well in my opinion.)

I wrote a long reply because I feel deeply about this, and I think I know some of what you’re going through.

Can not see the video. It is private.