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Mom needs a math tutor

March 24, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Homework. My children sometimes struggle with it, and I must admit, I sometimes struggle right along with them.

Many times, they need extra help to complete assignments, and it can be quite a lengthy battle.

Recently, while helping my son with fourth grade multiplication, I became confused.

He said he forgot the way his teacher taught him to get the answer.

I thought I could help him, but when I worked through the first question with him, he announced, “That’s not the Lattice Method, I have to use the Lattice Method.”

I looked at him as if I were a deer caught in headlights. I sat there frozen, wondering what the heck a lattice had to do with multiplication.

I know one way to multiply, and if it has a name, I sure don’t know it.

I’ll be honest, math is far from my strong point. The only thing I ever did well in math class was write neatly.

I specifically remember a math teacher telling me one time, “Your answers may not be right, but you sure do have nice penmanship.”

Unfortunately, my handwriting skills can’t help my son with his math.

When my older son came home, I thought for sure he would be able to help, but he said he didn’t know what the Lattice Method was either.

I looked on the Internet to find information on this method.

A grid is used that looks like a lattice you might find ivy growing on. The lattice is sized to fit the numbers being multiplied.

Sadly, that’s about as far as I got before I decided there was no possibilty I’d be able to teach my son how to do this.

When he figured out I wasn’t able to do his fourth grade math assignment, he suggested, “Geez mom, I think you’re the one who needs extra help.”

For the first time, I actually told my son not to do his homework.

Embarrassement set in when I realized I’d have to tell his teacher I couldn’t help with his schoolwork.

After putting my son to bed without his questions answered, I dreamt of the school suggesting I attend elementary mathematics lessons.

I imagined being the only parent instructed to go back to school and balance on a big fitness ball.

Luckily, my son has a wonderful teacher and, as usual, she was eager to help.

Not only did I have trouble helping with the Lattice Method but another night, both of my elementary-age children had homework struggles, in math, of course.

The second grade problems were solvable, but again, the fourth grade presented another problem to solve.

It was required to measure using centimeters, and I couldn’t find a ruler to save my life.

I think the same “ghost” who is responsible for miscellanious items missing around our house must have taken our ruler.

All I could find was a tape measure, but it didn’t have centimeters on it.

Next, I tried to figure out how many centimeters are in an inch. Should I have known that?

I didn’t, so I called my dad. Sometimes we call “Grandma Gloria” for homework help while other times we call “Grandpa Steve,” and this time help was definitly needed.

Grandpa wasn’t sure about centimeters either, so then, I looked for help online.

I found that there are 2.54 centimeters in an inch, but this required using multiplication, which was the major source of frustration a few nights earlier.

We solved the this issue by quickly going to the store and buying a ruler with centimeters.

Thank goodness for Loopy’s Dollar Store!