Why Parents HATE Common Core Math (and Why They Might Be Mistaken)

Written by: ArgoPrep Team

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Time to read 3 min

Let's face it, "Common Core math" sparks more parental panic than bedtime monsters. From dizzying diagrams to baffling number sentences, it's no wonder frustration boils over when homework time rolls around. But before you grab your pitchforks and storm the school board, let's take a deep breath and untangle the knotty math of this educational reform.

Why the Hullabaloo?

It's true, Common Core throws a curveball at our traditional expectations. We grew up with flash cards and algorithms, not wordy explanations and multiple pathways to solutions. This shift in focus from memorization to conceptual understanding is the crux of the issue. Instead of simply spitting out the answer, students are now expected to grasp the "why" behind the numbers.

This can be jarring for parents used to the comfort of familiar formulas. We picture ourselves, calculator in hand, breezing through equations while our kids stumble through a mathematical jungle gym. Suddenly, we're the ones lost, unable to navigate the unfamiliar landscape.

Beyond the Frustration:

Amidst the frustration, though, lies a hidden gem: deeper learning. Imagine your child not just regurgitating multiplication tables, but visualizing arrays to understand the concept of repeated addition. Instead of blindly applying a subtraction algorithm, they might draw a number line to see how much needs to be "taken away." These methods, while initially confusing, cultivate a flexible and intuitive grasp of math that empowers children to tackle problems they haven't even seen before.

Don't Fear the New, Embrace the Why:

Remember, Common Core isn't about making things harder; it's about making them better. It equips children with the tools they need to thrive in a world where rote memorization simply won't cut it. Think of it as building a sturdy bridge instead of patching up leaky dams with old formulas.

Examples in Action: 

Multiplication: Classic vs. Common Core

Let's take a familiar arithmetic operation – multiplication – and compare how it might be approached in the traditional and Common Core methods using the example of 12 x 8.

Traditional Method:

  1. Memorization: The student has likely memorized the 12s multiplication table and will recite "12 x 8 = 96" without much thought.
  2. Algorithm application: If unfamiliar with the table, the student might employ the "long multiplication" algorithm with its columns and carrying over numbers. While it produces the correct answer, it doesn't necessarily build conceptual understanding.

Common Core Method:

  1. Multiple representations: The student might be presented with various ways to visualize the problem:
    • Arrays: Drawing 12 rows of 8 circles, making a visual connection between multiplication and repeated addition.
    • Number lines: Marking off 12 jumps of 8 units on a number line, understanding multiplication as scaling a unit length.
    • Place value decomposition: Breaking down 12 x 8 into (10 x 8) + (2 x 8) to connect multiplication to addition and place value.

The student is encouraged to find their own method, not just follow a preset procedure. Regardless of the chosen method, the student is encouraged to explain their reasoning and discuss the different approaches. This promotes critical thinking, communication, and deeper understanding of the underlying concepts.

Bridging the Gap:

As parents, feeling lost in the new math maze is understandable. But remember, you're not alone! Here are some ways to navigate the unfamiliar:

  • Communicate with your child's teacher: Ask questions, express your concerns, and get clarification on how they're implementing Common Core if you are in a State that follows the CCSS standards.
  • Seek resources: Our award-winning workbooks are a great supplementary resource for your child to boost their scores and confidence. ArgoPrep workbooks come included with detailed video explanations that is taught by a teacher - included with your book!
  • Focus on the journey, not just the destination: Celebrate your child's "aha!" moments, even if they don't always arrive at the answer the way you did.
  • Embrace lifelong learning: Join your child on this mathematical adventure. Learn alongside them, explore new methods together, and rediscover the magic of math through fresh eyes.