Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kindergarten Math

My kindergartener received her report card yesterday. So, what do they grade a five year old on in math these days?

Just take a look at the expectation for January:

Applies Understanding of Number Concepts and Basic Operations
Uses one to one correspondence to count objects
Identifies numerals 0-20
Writes numeral 0-20
Counts 0-70
Counts backward 10-0

Applies Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning
Sorts and classifies objects
Recognizes, reproduces and extends patterns
Understands estimation
Performs data collection and creates simple graphs

This is NOT the expectation for January:
  • Counts 0-115
  • Counts backward 20-0
  • Understands the meaning of addition
  • Understand the meaning of subtraction
  • Recognizes penny, nickel, dime and quarter
  • Tells time to the hour
Students aren't expected to know that until June.

This is life in the world of Everyday Math. It's like another plane of reality where it's more important for a five year old to learn how to estimate, collect data, and create graphs than it is to learn how to add, subtract, count coins, tell time or count backward.

Then they wonder why parents get upset.


PaulaV said...

linnieWe have the same kindergarten expectations here in northern Virginia. According to Fordham, Virginia has fallen behind in recent years due to the use of calculators.

This year the math for my first grader is centered around gluing objects to a series of pictures. I did find out through another parent that our school bought a program called Sunshine Math; however, I've yet to receive anything from the teacher.

We don't have Everyday Math, but we do have TERC math investigations. Parents are beginning to make some noise here regarding the math curricula. The county has set up a committee to "evaluate" our concerns. One parent had a wonderful idea: Let parents decide which math program they would like their kids to use, TERC or Singapore math.

concernedCTparent said...

I like that parent's idea and wish we had that choice. Instead my youngest 2 do Everyday Math at school and we plug the gaping holes with Singapore Math at home.

THE MOM BOMB said...

Thanks for the insight on EM: it certainly puts my kids homework in perspective. I was puzzled by all the emphasis on graphing and estimated measurements, before the kids could even add and subtract. Now I know!

Here, I see the same problems with EM spreading into other areas of the curriculum. My daughter, a 1st grader, has an hour and 15 minutes of unsupervised time each day where she assigned activities like writing "connections" in a personal journal. Basically, she's given a story to read, then supposed to write about how the story "connects" to her life.

It's laudable to encourage literary insight. The problem? The kids are still struggling with the mechanics of reading and spelling. Teach them phonics and how to decode words first -- leave the abstract question and answer for later.

The most distressing part of all of this is that I see a large number of very young children (mine included) being tagged by the school as suffering from ADD, auditory processing and language processing disorders, and other learning disorders. As I see it, the kids are confused by the curriculum, but instead of taking a hard look at its own methods, its easier for the school to label these kids as "special needs". Then, the school can cheerfully tell the parents that they are under no obligation to provide services, as the kids are confused -- but not so confused as to meet the legal threshhold for special ed.

Sorry to rant, this is a very sore topic for me! I am being pressured to put my daughter on drugs/into therapy for "inattention" that I see as simply her confused reaction to a very fuzzy curriculum. Never thought I'd be here, but we're actually considering private school (although can't afford it!).

concernedCTparent said...

No need for apologies. You deserve a rant. Many of them, in fact.

Your instincts are right on target. Many people do believe in a strong correlation between the number of children being "diagnosed" with learning disorders and constructivist curricula. It's amazing that those same children respond quite differently when the curricula employs direct instruction. In a logical world, it would be clear that the problem is clearly the pedogogy/curricula and not the child.

This is the reason that programs like Sylvan (based on precision teaching principles) is a successful scaffolding tool. Kumon and tutoring with direct instruction is very effective as well. But wouldn't it be optimal to teach all children right in the first place? Remediation is a much more difficult (and costly) road to travel.

The sad fact is that the schools of education don't even expose prospective teacher to the research behind direct instruction or precision teaching, for example. We have so much insight on the human brain and how we learn in the field of cognitive science, but the ed schools pretend that they know all when the reality is that they're stuck in a time warp. My sister is about to finish her education degree in special education and I can tell you that the only reason she knows anything about direct instruction, precision teaching, and cognitive science research is because I keep sending her material to read. Ironically, if she submits a paper based on any of this solid data, her grades will plummet. This mind set is institutionalized making changing our schools the ultimate challenge.

This is another argument I have for choice in education. Public schools have become a monopoly of groupthink mentality. Parents shouldn't have to pay taxes and then pay a private school or tutor when it's clear that the problem is the curricula and the pedagogy and NOT the child.

Hang in there.

Samantha in Dallas said...

I went throught the same thing myself with our child. Sylvan and Kumon offer programs but there's no way we could afford them so I decided to invest my own time on it.

For that kindergarten math level, I found this site to be very useful.

Kindergarten Math

Just thought I would share.. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Dear blogger-
Do not believe that you as parents will not affect the system! See what has been happening here in Washington State:http://www.wheresthemath.com/blog/
The oh so famous Bellevue School District changed textbooks recently as a result of our pressure.