So, last night I had to read a bunch of Psychology material. That was for my Psych class as I am back in school! I was repeatedly interrupted because my little girl, who is in the 5th grade, was having some diffulty understanding her homework. She was struggling with the concept of common denominators. No problem. I willingly paused my learning to help her. In so doing, this is what I learned… I am in school – TWICE!!!

Although I learn quite easily, I suck at teaching! As I sat at our kitchen table with my daughter, I became increasingly frustrated as did she. I began in showing her that in adding or subtracting fractions, we must first find a common denominator (CD) to make the problem solvable. This was easy at the onset. 3/20 + 4/10 = ? “Is the CD 20, Mommy?” I was happy that she could see that. The problem came when she wanted to multiply BOTH numerators by 2. “You HAVE to do both sides, Mommy!”

I said, “No sweetie. You need only multiply the fraction that requires the change to make the CD the same as the other.”

“Oh, OK!” she said. Great! We were making progress, I thought. Not quite.

After showing her a few more problems, she worked busily on her own and I returned to my reading. Working in harmonious silence broken only by an occasional tap of the laptop keys or an eraser rubbing away an error, I felt accomplished… UNTIL I checked her work!  OMG! Only four were correct out of 18 problems! What the what!!!

Pause reading and note taking again to assist a little further. 3/15 + 4/40 = ? “CD of 5. Mommy?”

“No honey. Look again.”

“CD of 10, Mommy!”

“No babe. Try again.” She was exasperated now and sighed deeply.

This was getting tricky and I was running out of creative ways of showing her as well as running out of terms of endearment. She was guessing and that doesn’t work in math. It was taking everything in me not to simply give her the CD. She had to learn how to get there. Guess who was getting frustrated now? ME!

So it continued. I explained that she might need to multiply the ‘big numbers’ to find the CD. “Why would I make it harder, Mommy?”

“Because CC, that’s what you have to do sometimes.”

“That IS ridiculous, Mom.” *DEEP SIGH*

She was shutting down. So,  now I had to help her get over her block as well as engage her, all while reassuring her that she was not dumb (and neither was the math, thank you very much). Patience is a virtue.

3/15 + 4/40 = ? I asked, “What is 15 x 40?”

Incredulously, she replied, “That’s 600!!! I thought this was supposed to make it simple to solve the problem!”

Smiling, I said, “Yes, BUT you need to have a CD to solve it.”

“Oh Mom! that means I have to do EVEN MORE multiplying!”

“Yep! And in so doing, you will get the answer, Lil Bit”

“Fine… where’s the calculator, Mom?”

And me being the wonderful tutor that I am… I handed it to her and then went into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of Merlot. Soon after, I found myself at my laptop searching “math tutors in Atlanta.”

Yep, I’m figuring out that I am in school times two and I’m going to need a little help! Also, I am not going to be a teacher. 🙂

(By the way, the final solution was 3/10) *Cheers!*

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