Smarter than my 5th Grader?

How many adults does it take to help one fifth grader with homework?

Lucky for us, my son doesn’t need a lot of help. But when he does, the lines are clearly divided. Dad handles the math and science, Mom helps with spelling, writing and language arts.

Yes, I’m a stereotype. So sue me. Math and science were never my first love. And if I didn’t quite get it the first time around, why torture myself with it now? I think I’ve managed to do quite well for myself without knowing how to estimate the quotient of 7987 divided by 39 in my head. (That was really on last night’s homework–yikes!)

Now that I think about it, I was tested on a LOT of things that have proven to be utterly useless in real life. I’ve never had to figure out three-fourths of five-eighths. I mean if you’re slicing a pie, you just cut enough pieces for everyone at the table, right? And as for those two trains leaving the station at the same time, my best recommendation is to bring a good book. Then it really doesn’t matter which one gets there first because you’ve been properly entertained the whole way.

But the things I learned in language arts, those have been useful. I can diagram a sentence faster than I can label the parts of an atom. And dissecting the plot of a novel is far more entertaining than slicing open a smelly shark. Who wants to smell like formaldehyde all day? At least I know how to spell it!

So am I smarter than my fifth grader? Who knows. But I am smart enough to delegate what I don’t understand (or care about!) to someone who can get the job done. And really, isn’t that one of the best life skills to learn?

15 thoughts on “Smarter than my 5th Grader?

  1. That's exactly how it goes in our household. I hated math so much that I had nightmares about having a child who went through the same thing–thank goodness he LOVES math and is good at it. They're doing things 2-3 years earlier than we did. I used to tell his 4th grade teacher I couldn't help him with his math, and she'd say, “Oh, yes, you can.” Not!

  2. Ugh! Math. That was how it was when I was growing up. My dad was the Ivy-educated engineer, the math and science oriented guy, and he could not understand how he'd managed to produce a daughter who was so hopelessly stupid at calculus. The way I see it, I can add and subtract and that's about all I need to get by in life when it comes to math. Oh percentages are good too, since I love to shop and I can figure out what 20% off is on my cute new shoes. But the things I've learned in language arts are forever. I can write an e-mail better than anyone I work with and I can catch mistakes in my boss's grants faster than you can say “semi-colon.” Hopefully when I get married someday, it'll be to a man who can handle the children's math questions – I'll handle the spelling and grammar, thank you very much!

  3. Ha! And see.. i am a math whiz! Taught Algebra and worked for Princeton Review as an SAT math tutor for years. And when it comes to real life, useless. I have to ask my husband how to turn the oven on!

  4. Too funny. 5th grade homework is something else. I'm the Homework Queen in my household and as much as I was good at math when I was younger, it's frightening how often I have to refresh my memory with a reference book.

  5. Look how many writer friends don't excel at math! I don't feel so alone now. I loved your, “If you're slicing pie, just cut enough pieces or everyone at the table.” Works for me.

  6. Fun post! I actually was good at math until I became a stay at home mom, and seriously I'm so much slower at it now that I don't use that part of my brain much anymore. So, I don't mind helping with the math etc…but I know it will be soon I will have to ask for help!!!
    But like you, I love the reading and writing help the most!!!

  7. Becky: Math started getting dicey last year for me too. What on earth are they doing by high school?

    Julie: My dad was an engineer, too! Aerospace. And I despised Physics. But you're right about percentages being good to know when shopping. Ha!

    Corey: I didn't know that about you! Very impressive 🙂

    T.Anne: They can pull out some pretty amazing stuff on that show!

    Vivian: I was one who got good grades, but it didn't really stick. Like I learned enough to pass a test and then it exited my body to make room for something else 🙂

    LiLa: It's coming. Be afraid. 🙂

    Lori: I guess we writers have a lot in common!

    Susan: Delegation is one of the most useful skills I ever learned 😀

    Kelly: I think between being a stay at home mom and experiencing placenta brain with two pregnancies the parts of my brain that don't get “exercised” have turned to mush!

    Dawn: I just makes sense to play to your strengths, right? And thank you 8)

  8. Delegation is what it's all about!!! And I've been on 8th grade science duty this weekend. Not my first love! This same child had a language-arts assignment in “show don't tell” and wouldn't let me help! Hello!

  9. I can't agree with you more on that. I think that the only reason we had to study those things which are not particularly useful to us unless they are prerequisites to the kind of career path we choose in the future, is to stretch our minds. Ironically, once our minds have been stretched to a certain degree, we come to realize that half the knowledge we have accumulated are impractical and even useless in the real world.

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