Growing up I was always a good student, I prided myself on working hard, being prepared and getting top grades. But math was a misery to me – right through college.
I love writing – obviously – and the subjects that didn’t entail numbers were where I excelled. In math I struggled! I mean, I hated math, really hated it.
My dad, an engineer, sees numbers easily, and he couldn’t understand how I just didn’t GET this stuff. We had our share of spats when I went to him for math help. If I were forced to guess a number, I’d say that 90% of the time our tutoring sessions ended in tears and frustrations. That’s 9 out of 10 times – am I right on that?
My poor mother would leave the room and stick her head in a book whenever I asked my dad for math help – she knew the tension that was coming.
There was no Internet or online learning when we were growing up. I needed to learn math in a slow, deliberate, logical way and my dad’s fast-paced brain breezed along wondering how his daughter couldn’t grasp the four different ways he’d come to the same answer. I remember saying, “But that’s not how the teacher showed us,” I needed a straightforward path, step one, step two, step three.
I needed an option that was available whenever I was stuck whether right after school or when I was studying at 11:00 pm. I needed math help that adjusted to my pace, targeted my needs and gave me feedback.
Thankfully, I got through my statistics and upper level accounting classes in college (with a lot of calls home for long distance tutoring and tears). Then I dove into my first job which was glorified accounting – a.k.a. MATH. Working in NYC in the buying offices at Lord & Taylor required lots of math skills and in the real world, I finally got it! I finally felt competent and able to understand why math mattered. I could finally see several avenues to an answer but at what cost?
Growing up I felt tackled by math. I always feeling like something was just beyond my grasp. It was disempowering and maddening. I could’ve used a tool like www.futureschool.com that guides students at their pace and has 24 hour support, and not just in math but in English too. It would’ve save a lot of battles between my dad and me.
I’m grateful for being done with formal math education and now find myself relearning a lot, and in new ways, as we help our kids through school. As a parent I’m thankful for the option of online learning to meet our kids where they are and propel them in the way they need to the next steps of learning.
I work hard not to talk about how much I hated math (and truthfully I don’t really love it now) and while I’ll always prefer words over numbers, I can feel proud that I found success despite my weakness.
My dad sure tried his best and that is what parenting is all about – building on our kids’ strengths and bolstering them where they need it. In today’s era of the Internet, I’m so glad that parents have a lot more tools at our disposal.
© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016
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