I was never very good at maths. I work in words and thank God every day that there’s a calculator close at hand. I knew I would find it hard when my kids started bringing home maths homework – testing my brain (and patience) as well as theirs.
What I hadn’t counted on was having a sobbing seven year old, distraught at not being able to do her times tables (especially under the timed test conditions they insist on at school). When we were at school we leant tables by rote – yes, it was boring but it worked and to this day I can pretty much get through the basics from memory. But my daughter’s school don’t teach it like that and my daughter, who lacks confidence at the best of times, has decided she can’t do it and as such as shut down her very capable brain to the idea of 8×8.
I know it’s important that she knows this stuff so I am trying to build her back up and find a way to help her but it is so tough especially when all I want to shout is IT’S NOT THAT IMPORTANAT! She’s seven for god sake. She works so hard at school and is never off sick so when she comes home she should be jumping ‘til she’s sick on her trampoline, making up games with her little brother, dancing ‘til she’s exhausted in her bedroom and experimenting with her make up on her Barbie dolls. She shouldn’t be sobbing herself to sleep because 9×8 is a mystery to her.
I support schools 100% in everything they do, educating kids is hard, especially when you have to find a way of helping 30 kids at different levels reach the same goals. But what I find hard is this pressure that is uniformly put on these tiny souls. It might work for the confident kids who thrive on competition but some, like my daughter, are breaking under the pressure and it’s heart breaking.
As a parent I want to help her (and support the school) but I’m not a teacher – I don’t have the tools or the patience to understand how I can help. Ideas sent from school to try at home are all well and good but trying to tell my daughter ‘this is fun’ when she has tears running down her face is just too difficult for us both. We have post it notes round the house reminding her of the basics, have watched some very groovy teachers singing their way through the tables on You Tube and still we are no nearer ‘getting it’.
I don’t know what the answer is but this definitely isn’t it! Any suggestions of how to help get these blooming times tables off the pages and into my daughter’s head would be gratefully received!