What’s Wrong With Common Core Math?

Before you read this post, check out this problem.  Did the common core method of calculation make sense to you?  It did to me.  But, that doesn’t mean I’m rushing to teach my homeschooled children how to do math this way.
Common Core math attempts to teach children the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’ of solving a math problem.  This is good because it sets a solid foundation for algebra, trigonometry and calculus later on.  We all want our children to be prepared for higher level math.  There is no reason that advanced high school math should be scary.  With a good number sense and a patient teacher, most students can handle upper-level math.  Creators of the Common Core standards for math wanted to make high school (and eventually) college-level math less stressful for students.
Why is Common Core Math So Hard

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Common Core Math is Taught Too Early

My biggest problem with common core math is the timing of when it is taught.  In my opinion, based on my background in psychology, family therapy, studies in child development and my experience as a homeschooling parent, common core math is taught to children too soon.  

Number sense naturally develops as we get older and as we have the opportunity to use math in real life situations. When children reach the age of logic (somewhere around 13) they are better able to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’.  In elementary school, only the most logically advanced students will be able to understand common core math.  This article goes into further detail of this very subject and is a good read.  Read it here.

I think we need to accept that, while common core math will provide children with more than one way to solve a math problem, it is probably being taught too early to most children.  I will never purposely teach my children common core math.  I believe that they will find their own sense of numbers and, if their interests lie in math, they will ask questions about the ‘why’ when they are ready.  

Common Core Math is Turning Kids Off of Math

I understand that homeschooling allows me to follow a relaxed approach to teaching math and that public school teachers have their hands tied.  I believe eventually the public school system will realize its mistake in teaching certain concepts too early and fix it.  Unfortunately, in that time, they could lose a generation of students who might otherwise enjoy math.

My biggest concern is for those children who enjoyed math until they encountered Common Core math.  Common Core math has turned many children off of math.  As well, many children have experienced diminishing self-esteem because of their struggles with Common Core math.  This is heartbreaking and unnecessary.  

An Analogy for The Problem of Common Core Math

Here is an analogy I like to use when arguing against Common Core math:

John enjoys driving his car.  He knows how to operate the car and how to get from one place to the other with ease.  Driving comes naturally to him and he looks forward to driving each day.

John doesn’t know an alternator from a distributor, but that does not stop John from operating the car or getting from place to place.  John has no desire to be a mechanic; he simply needs a car to drive to work and other places.

Common Core math forces all students to be math “mechanics” when, in reality, it is not necessary to know the ‘why’ in order to do the ‘how’.  Eventually, some students will seek out the why on their own because of a natural inclination.  Certainly, most students can be eventually be taught the ‘why’ as their brains develop the ability to grasp it.  Most adults have found their preferred way of dealing with numbers quickly and efficiently in real life situations.  In the meantime, we need to do whatever it takes to preserve a child’s self-esteem and love of math.

Until things change, here are some resources that may help you and your child if you are struggling with common core math:

Common Core For Parents
Common Core Box Method