SOMWaD: The Unsolved Problem

We've got a month left of 5th grade and I'll be so glad to see it go.  This has been the most difficult scholastic year for my son (and hence my family).  Adapting to middle school has been a challenge to say the least.  (I still think 5th grade is way too young to go to middle school and have multiple classes/teachers, "cycle classes" that last for 6 weeks and Day 1 or Day 2 which continually confuses me, but thankfully my son has it down.)  I am praying that 6th grade will be an easier year.

While my son (and my family) have overcome many hurdles this year, one problem that we just can't seem to lick is math.  Let me be completely honest here:  I HATE MATH.  I am NOT good at Math.  (And it's not because I'm a girl...even as a struggling student I didn't believe in that crap.)  My husband is much better at the subject, so it is a good thing that he is the one who helps out with the homework.  We have a tutor who comes in and works with him on Sunday afternoons. Yet as we enter the final marking period of the year, I still see the same problem...His grades on a regular basis during a marking period run from F (lowest test/quiz/assessment grades have been in the 50s) to A.  (Homework grades have been consistently high and my husband does review his work before he hands it in.  With that said, he has also gotten As on in class assignments and quizzes, although overall I think he trends more to Bs.)  In all other classes his grades remain steady.  In general I know what to expect.  But when it comes to Math,  I never know.  It seems neither does he; and that is part of what worries me.

Today he came home with a D on a math test.  I am not surprised.  In looking over the homework that preceded the test (and the melt down that came with it), I know I would have flunked too.  The math problems were something like this:
 3 2  +(4 x7)-(6/2) x 8 =
(I made up that example and I didn't bother to try and solve it.  Bonus points and a big tip of the hat to the person who does.)

Maybe there are 5th graders out there who see something like the above and are not fazed. (Although this isn’t the case for the majority of 5th graders and their parents that I know.) As an adult (who is reasonably well adjusted or so I'd like to think), I'd freak out if I someone asked me to do that.   Maybe I'm showing my age here, but I don't recall anything like that when I was in 5th grade.  Have our children advanced that much that they should be doing problems such as the above in 5th grade?

Now while I'm not a fan of math as a whole, I do recognize that it's an important part of life.  In my work life I deal with numbers and spreadsheets.  As an adult, I am able to pay my bills and balance my (electronic) checkbook; yet I don't think I could do some of the order of operations problems that my son faced.

I'd also be less concerned if my son wasn't bouncing around like a run-away pinball in the subject.  He's up; he's down.  I have to ask IF he's really learning or just getting enough information shoved into him that he can sometimes regurgitate it out for a test or a quiz or an assessment.

My fear is that he ISN"T learning or understanding.  (That’s what he NEED to do in ALL his subjects.)  My fear is that he is coming to dread the subject so much that just hearing the word math will be enough to set off an anxiety attack.  It's a fear that I don't want to see come to fruition.

The school year is almost over. At this point, I just want him to get through it and I hope (and pray) that next year will be one of a more even keel.  If it's  not...well then my family will have some serious decisions to make.


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