Everyday Math Makes Me Want to SCREAM

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I don’t normally loathe things. But I loathe Everyday Math for the hell it put my daughter through and the poor math foundation it gave her.

Thank you so much.

You Don’t Know How to Subtract, Mom

My breaking point came one Tuesday evening. My sobbing seven-year old daughter told me I didn’t know how to subtract. To learn, I needed to read the four page Powerpoint presentation on her teacher’s website. (Here’s another teacher’s Power Point.) Four. Pages. ABOUT SUBTRACTION. (But, um, I do know how to subtract, don’t I?)

So, like any normal parent, while opening up the file, I ranted on Facebook.

(Did you know there’s a Facebook support group for people like me? –Parents Against Everyday Math.)

Her subtraction was backwards.

It looked like this:

everyday math

Now, this kind of method is fine for mental math, sure. But NOT for pencil and paper algorithms – it’s confusing and takes too long!

To make matters worse, it’s certainly NOT a good foundation if the math curriculum doesn’t continue like this through middle and high school. A Facebook friend wrote, “After 6 years of homework battles in elementary school, kids get to un-learn [Everyday Math] in middle school with traditional math. How does that make sense to anyone other than the self-appointed Einstein raking it in?

Everyday  Math Leaves Kids Behind

It was bad enough in first grade when AJ didn’t learn money in the one week it was taught, or time in the one week that was taught, or the addition facts when they were taught. She fell farther and farther behind with the promise that the curriculum would spiral back around eventually.

Her teachers through out these years reassured me that, she’d catch on when she was ready and that the research on Everyday Math was extensive, and it was a really a good way to teach math.

[Insert bad word here that starts with BS.]

Because those statements weren’t true. Not good research. Nor did she catch on eventually. (Google EM research and you’ll see, I’m not going to go into it here.)

Since AJ hadn’t learned the basics, she couldn’t catch on to the next spiral months or a year later.

She believed she was stupid.

Conversely, students who excelled in math weren’t challenged at their ability level and were bored. Herein lies a big problem with Everyday Math —  it teaches to the middle so you hit the middle kids and leave out the rest.

Blame the Teacher?

An Everyday Math trainer told my friend that it must be because the teachers were incorrectly implementing the curriculum.

Is the curriculum that easy to mess up?

I don’t think so.

. . .

New Math

In a recent phone conversation, Audra Haskins, Director of Lower School at Aspen Academy in Colorado, explained this about Everyday Math, “It doesn’t go deep; there’s not a lot of repetition, review, or application.

A teacher friend of mine from Twitter added, “The material jumps around so much that mastery is not achieved on any level (at least in second grade.) It doesn’t make sense. I hate it! I am worried about the future of my students because I felt like I didn’t teach solid math this year.

Investigations is another curriculum in the New Math genre.

Haskins said, “Investigations is designed to assume the kids are good at math and know the skills and apply them. If kids don’t know it, they’re never going to get there.”

Mom of eight and blogger, Gretchen White commented on Facebook, “I LOATHE Investigations. I’ve ranted about it extensively. It’s the main reason we left our former school. I remember our 2nd grader having to count the pockets in our family for homework one night and I realized it was failing him as a mathematician. I’ve been happy with Saxon, although I know there are plenty of Saxon critics. It seems like “real” math, for lack of a better word.

everyday mathWant to read more concerns about Everyday Math? Try Concerned CT ParentEd Weekly BloggerRational AmericanAmy JohnsonAndrea Meridaparents on this forumRox Dover, and Parent Pundit.

To summarize,

3 Reasons I Hate Everyday Math

  • Everyday Math does not teach basic number sense.
  • Everyday Math makes simple math operations harder than necessary.
  • Everyday Math does not differentiate for kids who need longer time or kids who need to move faster.

Cue Music, Enter . . . Singapore Math

We moved schools to one with a FANTASTIC math curriculum — Singapore Math. It goes deep into twelve concepts and teaches to mastery (meaning that kids learn it before moving to a new concept.) Tomorrow I share my happy experiences with Singapore Math. 🙂

What does your school use for math? Or homeschool? What do you like or dislike about it?

Attribution Some rights reserved by Pink Sherbet Photography

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  1. I’ve taught Everyday Math for 17 YEARS and have never seen the algorithm you have shown (above) for subtraction. I think the program is wonderful! My students have always excelled and LOVE math! The teacher is KEY! If you don’t know how to teach it-DON’T! My students love it and our school math scores are incredible each and every year. I’ve never had a student frustrated (parents-yes. but once I explain it to them they understand the reasoning). The only thing it lacks is memorization of facts which students need. I supplement this, and my students shine!

  2. I think the issue is that the TEACHERS don’t understand it themselves. Its not Everyday Math that is the problem. Most teachers hate teaching math because they don’t understand it themselves. If they don’t understand it, it is going to trickle down on their students. The method, as associated with the problem above, helps children understand HOW 528-263=265. We have to move from DOING math to UNDERSTANDING math!!! Just teaching children to “carry” isn’t teaching them WHY! Teaching them through place values, expanded form, manipulatives, etc. helps them see HOW the numbers correlate. The teacher should understood why s/he’s teaching that strategy herself (or himself). Its a sad case, but its the reality of it all.

    1. I don’t believe it’s an accurate generalization that all teachers don’t understand it but instead would reassert that the program is faulty.

      1. Maybe you are right. I shouldn’t have said ALL. I was wrong for saying that. It is all about how you smoothly transition from strategy to strategy. We teach base ten so that children can see and visualize what they are doing to UNDERSTAND mathematics and not just DO math. After a while, those strategies can be gradually taken away. That’s all I was saying.