Let’s slay spelling first – who the heck decided that the best way for a kid to learn how to spell was to make them write the words out using different colours and different twirly writing and writing it diagonally and vertically and do all sorts of silly games and things to fill in? All the way through primary my son had to endure this. He never minded writing a word 10 or 20 or 100 times. He did mind taking out the coloured pencils and f***ing around doing silly stuff. And is there any evidence that it works at all? I sincerely doubt it, and I’d be darned if there is any credible research behind this. I’m with Sugata Mitra on this. Yes I do think it is preferable to spell correctly and I do despair of one of my children’s inability to spell, but in the scheme of things I just don’t think it’s a deal breaker. Especially not if it involves hours of meaningless crappy worksheets at the cost of other learning. And anyway, everytime he spells something incorrectly in his Instagram it’s an opportunity for the smart kids to engage with him and tell him he’s done it wrong and correct it!
On to Algebra. Now my views there are different. I do think algebra is important. I just had a tough act selling it to a child who came home on Monday practically in tears because he didn’t have a clue what had been going on in class that day and the minute I started talking “X” and “Y” had a minor fit. So, when in doubt, google it. There is a lot of rubbish out there on math and algebra. But I did find a rather nice YouTube video which explained very nicely why algebra was important, and it aligned exactly with my views (which I didn’t know I had – i.e. I knew it was important but was incapable of expressing why properly and in the language that would relate to him).
talking to the Math teachers! Don’t do it! It’s two worksheets with a bunch of equations embedded in a picture and you solve the equations and then colour the shapes in to see the picture. Now I can tell you right off the bat that he is not going to do that homework. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because he HATES this type of homework. So I make a deal with him. I’ll write out all the equations, he works them out and I’ll do the colouring in (yes sweet saints, what the hell am I doing?). We do the first one, he finishes in a flash, and whereas he’d begun by saying he’d do the second one over the weekend, asks me to do the same for the 2nd and tackles it with gusto. While he does it we have a little discussion over the fact that c+c = 2c = c(squared). I the sucker, spend a little longer on the colouring but it gets done.