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

71 Responses

  1. Margi Stoops says:

    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. Mr. Incredible says:

    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. Mr. Incredible says:

        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.

  3. Bentley Cai says:

    Our child was with Kumon for a year and although we thought that it was quite expensive, we heard it was a pretty decent learning center for children, so we’ve decided to give it a try. Seeing that there was not much change in her math skills, we decided to search for another program that would better benefit us the most. We’ve come to conclusion that Beestar would be a greater alternative to Kumon. I believe that Beestar is a great program in helping children improve in math and other school subjects rather than Kumon. Beestar offers free online math and other subjects such as social sciences and English related subjects as well. This past year, we have seen significant changes in her math solving skills and English as well. We are very satisfied with the results we see with the online management provided. Beestar is definitely a keeper, so why bother staying with Kumon nor search for other programs?!

  4. mandi@herbanhomestead says:

    Oh mama. I’m sorry! What a hard experience for everyone involved. We use Singapore math here at home and we really like it. I feel like it is a good, solid math program. If you’d like something fun to do with the kids, Life of Fred is my kid’s absolute favorite! We are actually taking a break from Singapore right now and using LoF. It’s so fun!

  5. its not just Everyday Math, there are alot of math programs that do this…the problem is that teachers are no longer allowed to teach based on where the students are at, to take them where they are coming from in their math thinking and add to it. A lot of math programs make students follow a specific set of steps, not just Everyday Math.

  6. This isn’t as obvious as most people here seem to think. The underlying assumption is clearly “well, the ‘traditional’ approach was good enough for me, so it should be for my children.” The traditional approach was NOT “good enough” for most people.

    Try this thought experiment: How many adults do you know who are willing to readily admit in public that “I was never very good at reading”? Now as that same question about math. The answers are very different. Most American adults claim “not to be very good at math,” and most of them were taught by traditional methods. Those traditional methods have absolutely failed to create an adult population that is both (a) skilled at math and (b) confident in those skills (beyond basic arithmetic, which is, well, very basic…it’s the equivalent of “decoding” in reading…you have to be able to do it, but if that’s all you can do, you can hardly be considered an adept reader).

    This is NOT a defense of Everyday Math per se…it’s a defense of the need to find ways of teaching mathematics that do a much better job than we’ve ever done in this country with our students ability to handle mathematics.

    My own $.02 worth (and in addition to being the parent of two children, I’ve been an educator for 40 years) is that children learn in different ways…to have only 1 method of teaching math makes no more sense than having 1 method of teaching reading. Not all children learn best by “sounding it out.” Not all children learn best by “learning by sight.” Same with math.

    Every good math teacher has at his/her disposal a broad spectrum of methods for teaching the same concept or skill in order to reach as many kids as possible. One serious problem is that although most elementary teachers have this broad knowledge and pedagogy in language arts, they don’t in math. They were the product of poor math instruction, and they aren’t well suited to teach math well as adults, no matter what the method used.

  7. This math program makes me want to scream and cry. My daughter feels so incompetent with math because she has not achieved mastery in anything. We spend hours on math homework each night- which includes the tears and feelings of not being smart. The Chicago Public Schools doesn’t offer anything but this math program. They don’t offer additional help. She is already behind in math, as reported by MAP tests. How far behind will she be when Common Core Standards are in place. If I didn’t have to live in this city I would move immediately!

  8. Okay…I really just meant to suggest some good math resources, but got a little carried away–sorry!

    I use “It Makes Sense” a lot in 2nd grade. There are two K-2 books–one with ten frames and one with the 100 chart. It helps number sense and has several activities, games, and routines. We also use activities from Teaching K-3 Math by Van deWalle, in addition to investigations. I piloted Everyday Math for a month and didn’t like it. It’s just a different version of the “traditional” math, I thought. I’ve studied teaching math a ton for the past 5 years, and I believe in constructivist math. I’ve always liked Investigations because the focus is understanding not memorizing procedures, and kids get to experience math through activities.

    For the powerpoint you mentioned–I am sure a powerpoint would twice as long to teach the traditional subtraction procedure…and that would probably exclude actually explaining WHY you “borrow”. Using a place value method similar to the one you showed above actually makes a lot more sense than the traditional. You are not subtracting each ‘digit’, but you are thinking about the whole number and how much it is worth. You are also more likely to catch yourself if the answer does not make sense. No procedure will be very successful if the teacher is simply modeling the steps and having kids copy it. There’s no understanding there.

    Think about the last thing you learned (mine is using a zero turn lawnmower!). Did you learn it by someone telling you how to do it once? Probably not–everything my husband said went right over my head. You had to experience it for yourself and work it out. So that said, I’m sure that everyday math procedure your kid had to use was modeled by the teacher a few times then they had to do it. Not at all what it should be like.

    All in all, ANY procedure that kids are exposed to needs to be modeled with tools like base ten blocks. And ANY procedure that is used MUST be understood if they are to use it. I don’t tell the kids how to do math, I design lessons where they figure it out, and they communicate it to the class. Our learning comes at the end of math class when we have “share time”. I have researched and went through a lot of training with an amazing teacher. I took a good 3 years of being immersed in constructivist math to be really good at it, and I absolutely LOVE it. And I am a kid that loved doing worksheets and traditional algorithms were easy for me, and I have completely changed my perspective on how to teach math.

    The problem with Everyday Math, and the traditional math we all learned, is that there is 1 lesson to teach a procedure. Teachers need to make sure they go deep with a concept, and again the conceptual understanding needs to be solid before using a procedure.

    Teach basic facts by playing games. In a good game, they are typically practicing many basic facts in one ‘turn’. Kids are also more motivated, and a big problem that we have in America is that so many people hate math or think they are not good at math. We have to make it fun, and understanding needs to be at the core.

    Also, in learning basic facts they need to explore, share, model (on a ten frame).. strategies that help you learn your basic facts like doubles, near doubles, making ten, adding 9/adding 10, and using a nearby known fact.

    Alright I better just stop or I could be doing this all night. 🙂

  9. Just wait, our middle school and high school continued constructive math at their levels. My daughter, a freshman in college, is now being remediated in math!

  10. jmcwnz Whittaker says:

    Mental maths without textbooks up to about 12yo is great too – keeps the joy of maths alive. There’s more than one way to teach the Basics – and it can all be taught in a few months at high school age. No wonder no-one enjoys playing with numbers. ~ Try googling [images] “Fractals” – see I told you numbers are beautiful. 😉

  11. I am a third grade teacher who has taught EM for the past 13 years. While I recognize that there are gaps in EM, for the most part our students have done extremely well with the program. Our district scores are high. As a teacher, you have to know your students. When they struggle, you cannot be so rigid as to not be able to stop and reteach a lesson or supplement with other materials. Some math operations need extra “skill and drill” that the program does not offer, but otherwise it is a pretty good program. It is a program that is differentiated and gives many stragegies to help all students be able to learn and be successful.

  12. They have been using EM here in NYC public elementary school. My oldest is now in middle school, and youngest is repeating the EM torture. (M.s. is using a “glencoe math – New York mathematics” textbook) I loath EM as well. I find it (conf-)uses my kids with these alternate ways of doing things (partial sums / column methods just to name a few), and does not focus of the core way of doing the work. There are things in math that just need to be done a certain way or memorized and there are not good substitutes for them. Just tonight, my son stacked his numbers on top of each other and added and estimated everything perfectly. But his column addition method has errors.

    And from past experience they will just stay on this topic long enough to confuse the kids, such that they do not master it (like all EM topics), move onto a new topic, and then repeat the same thing for the next 2-3 years. I’m tired of seeing my kids adding up nickels and dimes for 3-4 years.

    No wonder our schools are producing average skills, and our president / politicians want to acquire our skilled professionals via immigration from other countries.

  13. It’s too bad because I feel like this program could have potential but it lacks some important pieces and I’m finding myself supplementing with an older curriculum. I taught 2nd grade (hated everyday math) last year, but this year I have 3rd and so far I am liking it. I can completely understand a parent’s frustration toward to different methods of solving problems! I’ve had many parents in my classroom concerned about this!

  14. Hmm, my 8 year old child is doing great with Every Day Math and excelling. At his school, they’ve created math groups similar to reading groups where they match kids at similar levels so they can excel or go slower as needed. He’s really into math and is a grade ahead.

  15. I home school my daughter and we use Math-U-See and LOVE it. I feel like she is getting a good strong foundation, and things are taught in a simple manner. I did Singapore math with her in Kindergarten and we enjoyed that too but prefer the Math-U-See program now!

  16. The district I teach in uses Investigations. I HATE it! And so do most of the teachers I work with. While I think it does a great job of teaching strategies for mental math (as you mentioned above), I think it’s crazy to only teach these strategies and not teach traditional math. Like you mentioned in middle school and high school they go back to the traditional method and the kids are completely lost. I teach special education and fortunately I use a curriculum that teaches the traditional way. Unfortunately many of the student I see for math wouldn’t need to come to me if we used a traditional math curriculum!

  17. I am currently a 5th grade teacher who has to teach Everyday Math for every single math lesson(yeah right). Everyday math is not the answer for all math students. A good teacher knows this and will find what works best for each skill. I use it as a resource for help when needed. I hate it has gotten a bad rap because it is really great for problem solving but not so much for basic skills. I don’t even teach the new math ways for solving a problem. That just confuses kids. I just wish our district would see it as a resource and not the whole math curriculum.

  18. I taught EM to third graders and I really have mixed feelings about it. I like the program because it teaches the concept, rather than just the procedure. BUT, I agree that the material is scattered around and you don’t focus long on one given topic. My weak students didn’t take to the program very well at all. And it frustrated me that the students had to learn 4 or 5 different ways to do multiple-digit multiplication. Waaaay too confusing for some of the kids to handle. I’d say for advanced math students perfect.

  19. I was a 3rd grade teacher a few years ago and had to teach this… All of our team struggled with it every day! We didn’t even understand it, how could we teach it if we didn’t even know it, I told my principal I couldn’t teach it because I don’t believe in it and she ended up moving me to a differnt grade level and I taught reading and writing… I HATE IT!

  20. We started homeschooling last year using Math U See. Didn’t love that either. Same kind of backward working of the problems. Using Teaching Textbooks this year and LOVE IT. EM is what the elementary school we went to used. Our problem is that unless you have the money to put kids in private school, you are stuck with the math program at the local public school. We just opted out of all of it. =)

    1. good to know – thank you! Yes, you’re right. Most people are stuck in the curriculum of their public school. 🙁

    2. We homeschool and use Math-U-See. After looking at the EM, I don’t think the two are similar at all. MUS teaches rounding and estimating, just so the student can understand what the answer will be close too, after they estimate they solve the problem in the traditional way. Of course MUS isn’t for everyone, but I don’t think you can compare the two.

  21. Interested mama says:

    Thanks for the informative post! 🙂 Our district uses “Bridges”…. does anyone have any insight on it? We’ve had a lot of frustration in our house too with Math… and that “Mommy dosen’t do it right”… 🙁 I’m also wondering if things will change with the “common core”, and if all states will be using the same or similar curriculum???

  22. See, now I loathe Saxon math. I feel like there needs to be a happy medium between the memorization of basic facts (which seems to be the sole focus of Saxon, from what I’ve seen as a teacher) and something like Investigations. We need to build the basic foundation for students and then teach them how to use those skills to investigate real life problems, because really, what we want is for students to be able to use math in their lives.

    1. I totally agree. I’m actually a math consultant working with multiple schools to develop this type of teaching. It takes a lot of ongoing professional development to change the way we’ve taught for years and years, but it’s possible. There has to be a BALANCE. You have to build concepts, which some programs like EM and Investigations attempt to do, but you have to do more than just introduce something once. You have to follow it through, extend the concept, give support and move them to a stage of practicing procedures and algorithms connected to real world problem solving. The Common Core is actually set up to support this kind of learning/teaching. The problem is that teachers need professional development to learn how to teach this way, but professional development days are being cut all over the place.

  23. You mean this My page? I started this group after becoming frustrated with my district. I am a statistician with a masters degree in mathematics and became involved in convincing my district to dump Everyday Math for the Singapore book, Primary Math. I can’t say enough bad things about it. I have written several letters to the local paper that I share on the site. I will not rest until this plague on math is eliminated from my district!

  24. My kids school uses investigations. However, this year has been the worst. I have a 4th grader and a 2nd grader. The 4th grader is doing okay, however my 2nd grader is struggling and she is doing things this year that I do not remember her brother doing when he was in 2nd grade. Also, my 4th grader keeps bringing home assignments using “lattice multiplication”! I was clueless and so could not help him. I did finally learn it and I think it is a ridiculous procedure! I have heard of Singapore math, only through my research I have been doing into the International Baccalaureate curriculum my school district is attempting to implement. That is a whole other can of worms! I am definitely not liking the stuff I am learning about that “programme”…..

  25. I taught using Everyday Math or about 8 years. I found that it was very hard to adjust to in the beginning since it was not the way I was taught. After struggling with it for a while, I learned that it was great for SOME of my students, but like anything – not ALL of them.

    Everyday Math should be used as a resource, but not the only source for math instruction in the classroom. Your 528-263 subtraction example in your post made me laugh and cringe at the same time. But I also remember as a classroom teacher that this approach worked for many of my students. The same was true for partial quotients and partial products. I did not learn math this way, the parents of my students did not learn it this way, but it did work for a good number of my students. It just took some time to get past the “I didn’t learn it this way, therefore I don’t like it.”

    I agree with the majority of your post, but I also feel that Everyday Math gets an unfair treatment due to the fact that schools do not use it properly. Schools announce that they are using Everyday Math as their math curriculum. That is wrong. Schools should use it as a resource to go along with a much bigger picture. One size doesn’t fit all.

    I also believe that learning these new approaches to math made me a better teacher. It made me uncomfortable and it made me work harder to make sure each of my students was ‘getting it’.

  26. You’ve covered it all here Melissa. There are definitely some elements of everyday math that make it appear more applicable when approaching new concepts but if it’s used within a curriculum it must be interwoven with other strategies/techniques for future math success. I was never too sure if EDM had the legs for a child to continue on with and you’ve essentially solidified my position with your well articulated posts. Thank you

    & Happy “Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Day” to you! 🙂

  27. Great post Melissa! We used Everyday Math in Indian Ridge and I was definitely not a fan. We’ve used Singapore Math in the past to supplement and love it.

  28. We’ve been trying to recover from the gaps of EM for weeks now. Multiplication tables need to be memorized by rote – it’s the foundation for *all* future calculations. Without it, you end up with ‘rapid adding’ and all kinds of subsequent issues.
    Estimation? A good skill. But understanding basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division? That’s not negotiable.

  29. I’ll be interested in reading your post about Singapore Math — especially if it is the best of both as previous commenters have mentioned. I would especially be interested in reading about how it addresses critical thinking and goes beyond rote basic facts.

  30. We were struggling with this as we chose a school for our daughter (about to start K) – we love our neighborhood and have heard amazing things but alas it is Investigations and frankly, it terrifies me. I heard horror stories about Investigations— why are kindergarteners investigating MATH? Seriously? They should be learning it rote – they are 5-6 years OLD! They can investigate MATH when they get to high school if necessary. I just do not think it adds value but lucky for me, I have a husband who is a math whiz (I am not) and I am glad we can supplement and monitor at home but it is tough for parents if they do not know the methodology behind it. If they are teaching teachers this method to teach it does frighten me a little. Like I said, this made our “choice” a little easier and she is going to a charter school but there were other factors too: Foreign language curriculum, structure, leveling (based on abilities), field trips options, and of course– the MATH!
    She will be doing SAXON and while I am not sure that is the best either – I hear Singapore combines the best of both, we will see how things go. It is all we can do.

  31. I hear you. We have Everyday Math here in Newton, MA. I don’t like it that much either. I am using Singapore Math at home for supplementation. I just use the TEXTBOOK because it has great intuitive math concept explanations.

    It also has enough practice in the textbook without using the workbooks since it’s just to clarify concepts for my kids.

    I also like the math apps by Esa Heltulla. His apps follow the Everyday Math curriculum but are very easy to understand. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about for Trade First Subtraction: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=11869 He has about a dozen of so math apps.

    The spiraling just doesn’t seem to go deep enough, and there isn’t enough math fact practice in Everyday Math. My mom teacher friends say that it works if you add in supplementation (which they do for their classrooms) but if your teacher isn’t, then you will need to do it yourself at home.

    I hope this helps your daughter! I’m sorry that this is such a bad experience for her. My teachers defend Everyday Math with the research on the results.

  32. Pencil and paper math is important for future education and critical thinking skills. The plethora of math choices will make it tough for high school and college educators to have a baseline expectation of students. As a parent I feel obligated to supplement my child’s education where appropriate. If they study traditional math, I should expose them to mental math. If they study everyday math, I should expose them to obscure pencil and paper math (square roots, etc.). Looking back 100 years ago, the pencil and paper math capability of high school graduates was amazing. 100 years from now, pencil and paper math will seem like a slide rule.

  33. I. HATE. EVERYDAY MATH. Hate it. My son’s school switched to it when he was in 1st grade (he’s now in 4th) and it’s been nothing but frustration. He’s doing okay with it – but just okay. I get the concept behind it – to teach the concept of multiplication, division, etc. – but I think Every Day Math does a terrible job of it. My son struggles with every new concept, and I struggle to help him because I have NO IDEA what he’s supposed to be doing, and then – just when it starts to click – they’re on to the next concept. There’s no practice, no drilling it in. So when when concepts DO “spiral back around” he has to relearn them.

    A neighboring school switched to Singapore, and I hear nothing but good things from them. Due to a recent redrawing of the school boundary lines by the district, there are a number of families with children attending both schools and ALL report that their Singapore students are far out performing their Every Day math students. Since it’s a district mandate that the schools use Every Day math, in order for us to ‘opt out’ as our neighbor school did, the PTA has to come up with the approx. $20k it would cost to buy books, materials, training, etc. for a new curriculum. I’m happy to say that, even with the price tag, our PTA has elected to aggressively pursue switching.

  34. To blame or not to blame?! Only blame if no one tries to remove the program. If they try, at least you know they tried.

    Teachers have the power to have curriculums changed if they united and refuse to use a curriculum. It’s hard to do, but teachers do have the power.

    Parents have the power to united and refuse to let their children use the program. It’s hard to do but parents do have the power.

    Parents and teachers together have more power!!

    And by the way, anyone can teach their kids to add and subtract at home, and let the teachers drive them crazy at school with the weird math program. But at least they’ll know how to do it. Everyday Math, ummm, not really!!

  35. Please don’t blame the teacher! 🙂 We use Investigations in our district and have complained for YEARS! Our parents have complained for YEARS! The solution, buy their handbook that parents can keep at home. We were told if we were “caught” using another curriculum…. Or, if we “supplement” with non-mandated District material… It is sooooo frustrating!
    I have heard good things about Singaore Math as well.

    1. Totally agree. Most districts that require a certain text scare their teachers into using it. I’m a math consultant currently working with a district who was used EM for years. They are now starting to let teachers do their own planning rather than following it robotically, but a lot of teachers are scared they’re going to get in trouble. So PLEASE don’t blame the teachers!! This is district level decision that most teachers have no control over.

  36. Heather H says:

    We use Math U See in our homeschool. LOVE it. It teaches math concepts so clearly and there is zero jumping around. You don’t move to the next lesson until the current lesson is mastered. The program works in a couple of review problems into half of the worksheets, so the kids get a dose of a refresher without “spiraling” them backwards and getting them confused or forgetting new concepts. The word problems are real-life problems so I feel the it demonstrates how we apply math to every day life.

    We’re now into our 4th level using MUS and my son, who previously struggled with the horrible spiral math methods in public school, is doing very well now.

  37. Thank you! I said this about 10 yrs ago when I was teaching EM to 6th grader and wondered how they would ever learn anything. I heard the exact same “it will spiral back around” quote. So glad I’m not the only one who has these feelings!

  38. Wow. I’m good at math, but that’s confusing. I don’t know what kind of math my kids’ school teaches, but it’s not that one, thank goodness.

  39. Although I haven’t heard the term Everyday Math before, my kids do have investigations so I assume that’s what they are learning. Plus they are in the same school district Gretchen left.

    I have to admit that when I was first exposed to this “new math” I was confused – that was when my stepson was in 4th grade, so 6 years ago. That group of kids had it hardest because the approach was switched on them after 3 or even 5 years of learning math the more traditional way.

    However, watching my now 4th grader do math I think this math is a great foundation for teaching kids how to think about numbers – to work with them in their heads and “get” the concepts for gut checking, approximating, etc. And those are the types of math I use in my everyday life – how much is this granola bar box per bar? Do I care if it’s $0.19 each or $0.22 each? Not really, but close enough is fine. Same with mpg – I want to be able to quickly work out a solution.

    I’ve seen some really incredible multiplication and division efforts in 4th grade with this math that astonish me compared to how tedious and time consuming it was when I was in 4th grade. So I guess I can see positives with this approach. At the same time I am very interested in learning about the Singapore Math.

    And, btw, don’t think ANY topics are taught to true depth in our schools any more – the damn testing is what is taught – “This is what your questions may look like on CSAP, make sure you write down your thought process and your answer in full sentences because that will get you partial credit.” I hear how to take the CSAP in my kids’ classes as much as I hear true teaching.

    And don’t get me started on the class sizes. After spending 1.5 hours in my son’s class, I think the actual time he was taught something was maybe – MAYBE – 10minutes. I can only imagine how much further he’d be if being taught one on one. Of course I am a big advocate of school being as much for learning social skills as academics so I am a bit bipolar here I suppose.

  40. We are beginning to homeschool and going to be using Singapore Math. I have not heard much about it, so thank you for sharing that you like it. That makes me feel much better about it. Good to know it works!

  41. My son had EM for 1st grade after having an excellent Montessori foundation – he believed he was good at math and EM knocked it out of him. We are homeschooling for 2nd grade and have resisted any 1 curriculum – we make it up as we go, and use Montessori approaches and materials whenever possible. Please please help – after the rant, we need OPTIONS. What are good curricula for 2nd grade math. Need guidance. Thanks.

  42. I taught using EM. First, I had to teach it to myself before I could teach it to the kids. I agree that things like subtraction (& multiplication) are very convoluted – requiring many steps.

    Kids were confused by the process. So how could they learn the concept? They didn’t.

    It jumped around, A LOT! I did not like that AT ALL. No room for mastery when you are on to the next topic so quickly.

    I did my best to review concepts we had already worked on, added supplemental material to help struggling learners. I even held after school “tutoring sessions”.

    I honestly think had the curriculum been better it wouldn’t have been so hard for these kids to learn math basics!

    Great post!

  43. It’s funny… we talked about this in my Math Methods class when I was doing my studies to become a teacher (this is my first year teaching). The instructor was showing a video for explaining division, and I asked “Why can’t we just teach the children to do division the old fashioned way we used?” I was told kids MUST learn the concept on their own, they must DISCOVER what division is in order to understand it. Well, my now 5th grader is completely confused about math now. I believe that we are adding too many steps in math that just don’t make sense. A four page PP on how to subtract? That is just insane!

    1. Karen, I’m a teacher too, and it is important for them to understand the math, but they can’t just “discover” it on their own as a lot of “new math” methods are suggesting. It requires teacher support and very purposeful planning and implementation of math tasks. For years, it’s been acceptable to be math “illiterate”, but in today’s job market, grads need to have the problem solving and analytical skills that come with learning math on a deeper level.

  44. Everyday Math is the bane of my math existence. It was introduced when my son was in 2nd grade in our CA school district. His very experienced and excellent teacher refused to teach it in favor of his tried-and-true curriculum until the district threatened to fire him. Introducing new methods like left-to-right math just for the sake of a new method is a waste of time. Learning and internalizing math concepts is best done with consistency and repetition, not mixing it up and teaching something different every day. My very bright son now struggles in college calculus because he got no foundation in the early years.

    Eventually, we moved to another state and thought we would escape it only to find them introducing it there the year we moved. Ugh. So glad my kids are in high school now and no more Everyday Math.

  45. I am a former 1st grade teacher and we had just started using EM before I “retired” to stay home with my kids. It was awful to teach and very confusing to students!! I am worried about our future generations with the direction that public schools are going!

  46. I’m a former classroom teacher who is now a homeschool teacher. We started using Singapore Math with my son in kindergarten. It’s a great program. He’s now in the 2nd grade, and we’ve used it every year. We really love it.

    Be sure that you are buying Singapore Math and not a product that covers the concept. ( The Singapore curriculum will have four books for each year.)

  47. i don’t know much about Everyday Math but it is at my son’s school and i totally agree that it doesn’t allow for a child to soar when they have mastered . my son is lightyear’s past where they are teaching him and yet he is forced to stop learning until the curriculum catches up. that’s just wrong on so many levels. when i was teaching in Maryland I taught Singapore Math and LOVED IT. loved that the overall message it sends is the importance of problem solving. it gets kids deeper and gives them many ways to solve problems.

    1. Great post indeed. Thanks to Pinterest, I found you all! I am so glad to see that I am not the only parent that truly HATES EM! That math cirr is SCARY to say the least. And I can relate to all of you.I have 3 children (3rd gr, 1st and PreK) My 3rd grader started with Saxon in Kg and I was not all that thrilled, however, by the end of the year, she was at almost a yr & half ahead & mastered her math facts. I moved them from private school to an awesome charter school with in my opinion, one of the best cirriculums around that taught Singapore Math along with Spalding too. In 2nd grade my DD not only mastered the 2A & 2B concepts, but tested out & moved up to 3A & 3B, along with several other students. She had a very dedicated teacher that encouraged the students that were ahead to even study the Bar Modeling concepts in 2nd grade after school! My son also studied SM in Kg and was doing fantastic! They even loved math! Now the bad part…moved to Michigan where the public schools teach EM! I’ve heard & read about the horror stories of EM and for us, they are real! Leaving Kids Behind is right! Singapore Math is nowhere to be found here! Unfortunately, our school decided to pilot EM…am assuming it is cost effective, but not in any way beneficial to our children! While my daughter has an A, but really what does that mean, when they bounce from concept to concept…teaching in “blips” as I call it…not mastering at all! My son is now behind & struggling in math! And to think I was getting so frustrated when my kids didn’t understand their math HW. I get it now! They are not taught to master concepts, but taught to the test! I’ve gone to the EM site per the teacher and am confused as to why they are teaching math this way…backwards & confusing! I’ve even talked with the principal and got the same story…”circle around again and all the studies & reseach, blah, blah, blah. So what am I to do? Am going to “After School” my kids with Singapore math and keep up the Abacus lessons as well. That combo works for my children. Perhaps I’ll get the guts and homeschool!! Homeschoolers seem to get it right!!! 🙂

      1. I’m so thankful for the internet as well – it helps us sane mamas not think we’re crazy, right? So sorry to hear you’re experiencing the horrors of EM, too – poor kids!!! I wish you strength and influence over the decision makers. Good luck!!

  48. Can’t wait to read your post on Singapore Math. My son (in 1st grade) just started bringing some EM stuff home. I had no idea what it was so at least I am aware now.

  49. Great post- thanks for your honesty! We are homeschoolers and are looking around at math curricula. Our local public schools use EM so I’m glad we made the choice to bring the kiddos home. Singapore Math has been recommended to us, so we may try that next year,

  50. I am on your side. it is difficult to see how it confuses the kids. I understand that they want to have different ways to solve math problems and be creative in learning. But the way the curriculum is set up it is not step by step. It is a mix with all kinds of topics in a semester. Should kid learn one and understand the basics of one concept and then move on to the next?

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