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Saturday, October 27, 2007


My fourth grade son, Chris,
is having fits in math this year.

He is in "above grade level" math,
which means it is fifth grade math.

Not having learned his multiplication
and division tables well is finally coming back
to bite him in the ass.


He brought home a D this week.
His first.
The week before that he brought home a C.
His first.

Not a good trend at all.

So I have instituted a ten-minute-every-night
multiplication tables rule,
focusing on the 6, 7, and 8 tables.

Tonight he came to sit next to me to read
after telling me he had done his ten minutes.

I did the 6s, the 7s and half of the 8s!
he told me joyfully.

I looked at him.

You worked for ten minutes?
I asked him.

Yep! he said affirmatively.

And you did the 6s, the 7s and half the 8s?
I asked him.

Yep! he said again.

I sat there for a second, and then
I said,

So you are telling me that in ten minutes,
you did about 30 problems?

He looked confused and a little uncertain.
This was not the response he was expecting.

Uh...yeah, he said.

Do you know that that works about to be about
twenty seconds a problem?
I asked him., he mumbled.

He was trying very hard to get into his
Goosebumps book, despite my Inquisition.

Chris!! I barked.
Startled, he looked up.

I am going to show you how long
twenty seconds is, I said.
I held my watch and let him feel how long
twenty seconds is.
It can feel like a VERY. LONG. TIME.

After the seconds passed, I asked him
It took you THIS LONG to answer one math fact?

He looked shocked at how long 20 seconds had been.
He also didn't seem inclined to do much about it.

Okay, then, it's your math group
and your choice, I said
and then studiously ignored him.

A couple of minutes passed,
then he heaved a sigh,
threw down his book
and headed toward my door with
a tearful expression.

Where are you going? I asked innocently.

I'm going to go practice my math facts
he said sullenly.
You made me feel really bad.

I wasn't trying to make you feel bad, Chris,
I said
but I don't think you were working nearly as hard
as you could have and should have.

I suggested he get his Math Shark game
and bring it in to me.

He did and I hung out with him
while he did his 6s, 7s and 8s
in five minutes flat.

We were both happy.

So now he is reveling in his
extra ten minutes past his bedtime
to read
and I am satisfied.

At least for today.

1 comment:

Splaneyo said...

Oh my! Spencer has learned the term "personal best" at school and he already knows how to work it. His problem is penmanship - he doesn’t care, not one bit. I am waiting for the "guilt" to kick in. =)