You do the Math!




I do like to think I’m not a complete simpleton. Somewhere nestled within my cranium there must be a cluster of cells resembling a brain. 

I don’t seem to struggle in my day-to-day life with adding up how many chicken kievs we need for dinner, I even know a few facts about the Bayeux Tapestry and how to spell chrysanthemum, but when presented with my 7-year-old’s maths homework, everything behind my eyes goes dark. Blank. A vast desolate space seemingly void of neurological activity. Where I thrive with words, I flinch in repulsion at numbers. Whenever I have been asked a spontaneous mathematical question in public I can hear my brain screaming ‘Nooooooo’ before it shrivels into a useless sultana as I break into a cold sweat and silently beg for a freak tornado to slurp me up, freeing me of the obligation to solve the equation. 

So, you can imagine my horror when, in these Covid times, my daughter has been given computer-based homework where she has to complete mathematical problems against a timer. She innocently sits alongside me at the laptop whilst together we work through the problem, all without realising that I’m frantically using my fingers under the table and that my cup of tea is actually a nice strong Merlot to ease me through the torment. I was never an expert but what is this new maths that they are teaching anyway? They do things so differently now, I feel like I need to take a night class to grasp the basics of the Year 2 curriculum. I’m 33 years old and had to hide in the garage so I could google what the crap a number bond is. 

I don’t remember getting any homework in Primary school at all, in fact, the joy of being a child in the ’90s was coming home from a hard day at school to watch Zzzap! on CITV and eating crisps dipped in cheese spread until bed time. Perhaps this is why I’m not currently writing this from my office in Downing Street or whilst taking a break from splitting atoms, but in my opinion, it does children no harm to just be kids and spend their time out of school making blob monsters with playdough instead of worrying about times tables. That being said, maybe I’m simply biased against Maths homework as I thoroughly enjoy the other projects we get assigned. 

"Pre-Covid, when creations could be taken to and from school, I got perhaps too involved with making a Tudor house for the Great Fire of London project." 

I spent ages pondering what we could use to create a realistic thatched roof and I even let my daughter do a little bit of the gluing and painting... of course I snuck downstairs to neaten it up while everyone was asleep, but that’s quite normal isn’t it? 

We also enjoyed sculpting a replica of our village church out of salt dough, and making posters about books was fun because we could use our jumbo Crayola crayons and some glitter glue... but maths? No thanks, I think I’ll let my husband take over before I get busted for not knowing my nine times table or my inability to find the square route of anything.  

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