Not a family get-together goes by where one of my siblings doesn’t mention the flash cards. Apparently they are scarred. For life. Dad would run the stopwatch as we rattled off addition and subtraction values and then carefully record our time on the inside lid of the box. Even though I was the slowest (my dad claims) of the three of us, my siblings never forgave him for pulling out the stopwatch, or me for being first and setting the (apparently low) standard.
Up until midyear conferences I had avoided flashcards for Bird. Her teacher kept sending home sheets of cards to cut out and use, and I kept ignoring them because Bird was doing fine in math. She had a 3 on her 1st quarter report card in all math areas.
Then her 2nd quarter report card came home. With a 2 in the math category that measures her rote memory skills. Damn.
I researched math games from different educational software companies. The Amazon reviews were less than encouraging. They are games, not learning tools. I realize now this was an effort on my part to avoid having to take the time to sit down with her and do the time-honored tradition of flash cards. Sometimes, though, technology isn’t better. I informed John that this would be his thing – he would work with her and I would work with Mare on reading.
John did the flashcards with her, cutting out about 10 sheets that I had let accumulate over the past four months and going over them. They had fun.
Last week they started “rocket math” at school which is some sort of game they play where they set a benchmark for completing a sheet of addition problems, with each child assigned a level, A (easiest) through, I dunno, Z (hardest.) Bird loves Rocket Math and was thrilled to be starting it again at school. When she happily told me that they had started last week and she was at Level A, I f-r-e-a-k-e-d and went and told John to do the flashcards with her right then, immediately, no passing go and collecting $200. Bird was in the remedial math group and I was having nothing to do with that, especially when it is basically my fault for avoiding flashcards for four months.
Monday she reached her goal in Rocket Math and moved up to level B. Tuesday she did not reach her goal. Ergo, mom (finally!) pulled out the flashcards; she did them, but grudgingly. She reverted to a sing-song style and had to think about a few, such as 8 + 7. But! She came home from school on Wednesday saying she had met her goal and was now at Level C. OK, I thought. Progress. This time, I pulled out the flashcards and asked her if she wanted me to time her. She perked up. She liked that. I got out a small notebook and my stopwatch and she rattled off the flashcards much more quickly than the day before. She loved the pressure of the watch – it made it like Rocket Math. We recorded the time in the notebook, and I can tell she is excited. I won’t have any trouble getting her to do them today after school.
And you know what? It took me all of 2 minutes and 13 seconds to do the flashcards with her. We do have time. I have time. This stuff is important.