Not so enthusiastic about numbers


How can you resist those pleading eyes, those eyes that say, “Mama, please don’t make me go to school…” as if it was the most horrible punishment I could ever dream up for a 5 year old.

When I was in kindergarten, I remember it was all fun and we’d spend our days playing in the dollhouse and dress up. There was no pressure to perform, there was no homework, no tests and certainly no report cards.*

When I was 5, I didn’t have a school uniform, nor a laptop, not even a backpack.**

Oh my, how things have changed.

We are raising a generation of super-kids, who are expected to learn calculus by the age of 6. Can you imagine the stress that these little tots go through at school? While I’m all for education, early learning and all the other shit that a responsible parent is supposed advocate, you’ve got to understand that my children are starting off with limited resources, namely my DNA, which yay for creativity but outta luck for anything to do with numbers, balancing a checkbook, logical reasoning or laundry.

So you can imagine that when Andrew came home from school and said “Mommy, math makes my head hurt,” I totally understood. Especially after seeing what was in his backpack:


Oh my poor baby! I got down on my knees to his eye level, held his shoulders and said to him, “Honey, we need to get a bit more efficient than drawing and counting circles. A long, long time ago, our peeps used something called an abacus. They were very, very smart and won lots of awards and ate as much candy as they wanted.”

And I tossed my mini calculator in his backpack.


On a happier note, I’m teaching my kids how to use my camera:


Yeah, it’s almost as big as his head!

And here’s Nathan – I love how he squishes his nose against the camera. Had to wipe like a ton of snot off the LCD screen after this guy used it:


Child, only Buddha can help you if you drop that camera.

I ended up giving them my really nice point and shoot camera to play with – much lighter and they had a blast playing with it.




*which is why I still use my fingers and toes for math

**I did have a cubbyhole with my teddybear and a box of cheapy 32 Crayola-knockoff crayons


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Comments 52

  1. Sowjanya

    Awwwww….. You almost had me in tears with that first pic of Andrew… But happy to see the last pictures :)…Poor baby…

    Love how he reversed 7 πŸ™‚

  2. Susan C

    I’m a former elementary school teacher, and I think that level of arithmetic work is absolutely ridiculous for kindergarten. I remember in the first grade still having workbooks that had the pencils and the balls that we could count if we needed to.

    I just heard that 8th graders in California must pass an ALGEBRA exit exam. Oh, please, that is just so not necessary. No wonder they’re making the poor guy do first grade math. He’s gotta’ start getting ready for that algebra test.

    Now let me get off my high horse. That’s better. He is just adorable and delightful!

  3. Kindra

    Wow, what Kindergarten class is Andrew in?! I’m teaching Kindergarten right now, and I’m just starting to teach the kids how to PRINT the numbers, never mind teaching them to add!! I’ve got kids in the class who can’t even print their own name yet. Be proud of your little dude…he’s a super genius πŸ™‚

  4. sharon

    Poor guy. I can’t count without my fingers (or circles) either πŸ˜‰ He is adorable & I love the photo of his nose smooshed against the camera.

  5. Cynthia A

    Oh, that is *so* not fair to a kindergartner! They should be learning their Numbers and Letters, not doing arithmetic already. Sheesh – how to turn them off school so soon. More fun! More fun! Try fingerpaint and glueing macaroni onto stuff, much kinder on wee innocent brains πŸ™‚

  6. Janet

    OhMy! I was dizzy looking at that paper! My heart goes out to him… better still, MY “bwain” hurts from looking at it! That is a far ways from when I was in kindergarten! You guys are beautiful!

  7. Arundathi

    I’m going through the same thing – my daughter is just going into kindergarten and most of the schools i looked at were like military camps making you write and read the same things over again until your head hurt. where in heavens is “out of the box” and creativity in the picture these days? i loved school and kindergarten. now its just some training ground for nerds.

  8. Luna Pier Cook

    I have the opposite problem. My soon-to-be-19-year-old, who was horrible in math up until high school, is a friggin’ math tutor. And I hate math like Andrew does! Seeing “Numbers” marathons via DVD boxed sets can drive a guy nuts …

  9. Gandamora p.d. siregar

    Oh, what nice photo’s from both of you, especially from Andrew, he looks genius.
    I have also 3 children but they are now al students. It is pitty for me because i like children from Andrew age.

    have a nice time,
    Gandamora P.d> Siregar, Amstelveen

  10. Melinda

    I agree, this is not right! I say don’t compete with the others and allow him to have his childhood; full of imaginary adventures and games. There will be plenty of time later to learn maths.
    My daughter was very much like Luna Piers’ son. She hated maths! I remember her saying she wanted to be a childminder when she grew up so she wouldn’t have to do math. I pointed out she may want to figure out if she was being properly. She (without any prodding from me) is now doing her Ph.D in nuclear physics. I couldn’t have predicted it!
    Children just need lots of love at age 5. (side note: I love seeing your boys!)

  11. Melinda

    Uhhh…I don’t have my glasses on, sorry. I should know better!
    I should have included in the sentence above, ‘she may want to know if she was being PAID properly’. Yeah..that makes better sense!

  12. Argus Snowed In

    Your children are very lucky. Most Chinese parents would’ve swatted the child on the back of the head and said, “Memorize the sums. If you can’t tell me at once the asnwers to the sums I ask you by tomorrow, you will not watch TV for the rest of your life.”

    That’s a lovely photo of you in a pretty-perky skirt, by the way. Where was it taken? It reminded me of Malaysia with the palm trees and mosque-like building in the background.

  13. Cynthia

    I really hatted math at school and yet I ended working in a bank – go figure. I know that a big part of my math challenge was the teacher, he was one of those whereby if you didn’t get it the first time, you will never get it πŸ™

    I’m good with numbers though but let’s not get technical with things like calculus (lol)

    That look on Andrew’s face is just heart-breaking. Give him a big hug for me.

  14. Bren

    girl, ur children are so freakin’ cute… and math! well yeah i had to work extra hard in college to pass my calculus class. i simply hated it. still do!

  15. Kristen M.

    Math makes my head hurt too. I have a son in kindergarten and he is not doing that kind of math yet! It looks like my daughter’s 1st grade math – from the end of first grade! Those poor kids are going to grow up despising math.

  16. TIna

    Poor little guy! I remember kindergarten just the same way as your do…games, playing dress-up, no stress. We didn’t even have preschool back then! When my daughter started preschool, they were doing things I didn’t do until about 2nd grade.

    By the way, my daughter is now 24 and I still threaten her life whenever she touches my camera! My first words to her every time are “PUT THE STRAP AROUND YOUR NECK!!”

  17. shavedicesundays

    Goodness gracious, my 5 year old is learning math too and writing full sentences. It’s a pain for both the child and parent. I sympathize with you, but it looks like he did great! I can’t believe you’d give Nathan your Nikon. If my kids come near mine I scream my head off.

  18. finsbigfan

    Oh that little face! Your kids are too too cute. Math: The bain of my existence.
    Glad my kids took after dad for math skills. I get woozy looking at the advanced calculus books. I don’t even know what the frig calculus is!! Hang in there Jaden, they will be learning stuff waaaaaay sooner than we ever did. And yeah they will roll their eyes after the 20th time you tell them “Wow I didn’t study that until I was in high school”

  19. RecipeGirl

    Looks like he’s doing great in math, but that’s not typical math for a Kindergartner. I taught K-3 for 12 years and that is really quite difficult stuff for a K. That sort of thing didn’t surface until 1st grade in our school.

    I love that the kid’s are interested in the camera. My son wants a digital cam for Christmas. I’m pretty sure I’m just going to give him my old point and shoot.

  20. Holly

    Poor little guy!

    He is just sooo darn cute! We were talking to someone about our trip to Disney the other day and I was saying how much I LOVED taking Andrew and my nephew on “Space Mountain” (the little train that goes around Tomorrowland). By the 5th trip they were both holding their hands up high like a real roller coaster – very, very cute!!! I didn’t even trade out with Scott for my ride on Space Mountain because I loved my time with the boys so much!

    Cute pic of Nathan too!

  21. June

    Dude, kindergarten math?!? I still remember the “lessons” of kindergarten – being respectful of other kids (and their stuff), sharing, playing together. Lessons were more focused on social skills and empathy, not on academic skillz. (OK, I’m in my mid-30s, does it show?) First grade was the introduction of “seat work” – I still remember the pep talk that my teacher, Mrs Rosenthal, delivered about not being babies anymore and how we were embarking on the serious business of learning. Not everyone could read at the beginning of first grade – let alone do math! Sheesh.

  22. veron

    I have fond memories of math as a child. My dad would give me math problems while he does the accounting for the store for the night.

  23. Gastro888

    I hated math as a kid and still do! I think it’s cute that he used circles to figure out his math problems.

    I used my math as a child to count the number of fortune cookies that were in a box. LOL!

  24. Denise

    I loved my Kindergarten experience and I know Math wasn’t a part of it. Scary! Whatever happened to finger painting and making ashtrays in Kindergarten (can you tell I am the product child of the 70’s?!) Back in ’73 we were all about “finding ourselves” with my wonderful hippie teacher, Miss Julia George, in her Birkenstocks and long flowing skirts. I think you should search out a Miss George for precious Andrew and let him contemplate the book/record “free to be you and me”. Peace!

  25. Asianmommy

    Wow, Kindergarten is intense these days. All I remember doing was singing songs in school when I was 5. Now, my 1st grader is taking timed math tests. 40 questions in 3 minutes? Whoa!

  26. Barry

    Sorry but that photo of him in combination with that worksheet is friggin’ adorable. I’m totally with him though being terrible at math, finances, etc. myself. Unlike a lot of people here, I don’t even remember what we did in Kindergarten but I’m damn sure we didn’t do math! Hang in there, plenty o’ careers for us creative types (and I’m not talking hamburger flippin’ you cynical numbers folks)

  27. Alyson

    FYI: Calculus is a way to compute answers to problems that regular math will not let you do (area under non-symmetrical or non-regular curves). Whatever.

    It’s sad to see kids hate math. has some good stuff – check out what they have with number theory if you’re going the route of – help him with this and let’s understand together. Otherwise, nothing will happen if he doesn’t get this until he’s old, you know, 7 or 8. And, algebra is just a natural extension of all those sums, so, not to fret.

    It’s okay to agree that math is hard, but don’t do it in such a way that makes him think he’ll never be able to do it – because he can. Just maybe not right now.

    – future math teacher, of the high school variety, who frets that her students will be doomed to fail before she even gets them because they will believe that they will fail, have been told that they will fail or have not been properly taught…not because of any math deficiency in their own brains.

    And, I think kindergarten is the time to get them grouping and counting apples and oranges (the actual things)…never mind abstract simulations on paper.

  28. Brian

    My neice was doing Differential Calculus in high school, ended up going to MIT. I started off in engineering major, and didn’t take that till my sophomore year. -.- talke about next generation of super kids.

  29. dainty10

    I think this will sound mean, mainly bc I have no maternal feelings at all, but I will try to convey the point. I don’t think learning basic arithmetic is the wrong place to be at for a 5 or 6 year old. Actually, I feel like the rest of America is behind two steps. We (Americans) also have this incessant need to coddle our youth against the “hardness” of math, because somehow it is just “hard”. It’s not and can be quite fun (well, in retrospect, of course).

    The current education curriculum, I feel isn’t adequate to compare to “our peeps” because the style is completely different. When I came to the States when I was 3, this is the stuff that I was learning. Math is/is not hard. It’s just rote memorization, just like numbers and colors are. This method of “counting circles” is quite pointless, and no wonder Andrew has a headache. I would too if I had to draw all the circles in a box and then count them up again.

    The basic point is repetition. I hated it as a kid but I now realize the advantage that it has given me. It’s the same with multiplication. (And yes, I did algebra and trig in 7th and 8th grade.) I also feel the US’s education system relies too much on “innate talent” (which actually scientifically only comprises of 2% of your ability), but that’s a topic for another day. Anything can be taught.

    So I think Andrew is doing really great, and it seems he understands the logic behind it, which is the whole point. Now it’s just time to memorize, and then it’s a breeze.

  30. Lynn

    Slacker homeschool mom says “let’s go count m&m’s as we stir them into the dough.” School done. Nuff said.

  31. Kirsten

    What a funny post – and your boys look so cute! I know what you are talking about – we’ve got almost the same problems. Although my 7 year old son loves maths, he hates reading and writing. So I decided to write him a letter every day and put it in his bag. He is a very curious young man, so he “had” to read these long letters to get the interesting information he needed (“Tomorrow we’ll go to the cinema” or “Grandma and Grandpa will come to visit us next week” or “Do you want a birthdayparty?”). Now he is a good reader and writer!

  32. courtney

    I dreaded math too. It was the worst subject and I envy anyone that finds it easy. What a Mom trusting them with the cmaera. But just adorable.

  33. Farina

    I saw my neighbour’s kid a few mths back pulling what to me looks like a hand carry with wheels and all. Then I was told that was the school bag! When did they change from a backpack to a luggage?

  34. Brooke

    I love this post. Mostly because I was, as a child, JUST like your son. I thought I was the only kid in class still counting out math problems on my fingers. Heck, I might have actually done so much better in math if I had the abacus concept to use to my advantage!

    The test covered in circles is, by far, the greatest piece of math inspired child art I’ve ever seen.

  35. sb

    I have to laugh – until I read further on, I thought the circles were doodles. I’m amazed that they are asking such hight level of addition from a Kindergartner. Mine will start next year and she still has trouble doing 2+2!!!

  36. mochachocolata rita

    Jaden, i noticed how your pinkie goes up when you were holding ur canon! LOLLLLL!!! don’t we all lift our pinkie when taking a shot? dainty lil photobitches ^_^

    the worst thing is…after graduating a post grad course, we’ll eventually realise that calculus doesnt do us any good when we’re trying to bake the perfect loaf of bread

  37. rita

    oh, my! so, at which grade level do they teach trigonometry? 3rd grade? i hope this doesn’t dissuade him from learning and enjoying math as he gets older.

    great big hugs to andrew. i wish him the best. hope he gets over this hump and does well.

  38. Rasa Malaysia

    I hate hate hate math too and always flunked while my peeps scored A when I was in high school. Sometimes, I am still not sure if 9+8=17. Andrew has already aced that!

  39. mikky

    I’m sure it’s just a phase, anyway, who does want to go to school… he’s so cute holding and taking pics… Happy Thanksgiving… Enjoy your celebration… πŸ™‚

  40. Wendee

    Even though I was good enough in math to be an engineer, I will confess having piles of pages of homework (and later in life, notes from meetings) with lots of doodles that had nothing to do with numbers. Lots of circles and penguins. My hunky BF is a high school math teacher and watching him write out calculus tests is far beyond anything my brain can deal with. As a designer, I have happier balance between the numbers and circles these days. This homework page is precious. I have empathy for your little guy. He may like math or not, but his mind is playing and he’s not afraid to put it down on paper… something you should try to keep him doing, and something we should all try to keep doing, too.

  41. Carolyn Jung

    Those of us who became journalists have a saying: “We became writers because we can’t do math.” And it’s SO true. Journalists are often number-challenged. We hate figuring out city budgets, tax codes, and even converting ounces into cups. So little Andrew may not like numbers. But maybe that’s just a sign that he’s going to grow up to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer instead some day. πŸ˜‰

  42. Kim

    I don’t know if your son attends public or private school, but a relative of mine is a public K teacher and I saw her at Thanksgiving. I asked her if her students did cute crafts, etc. for Thanksgiving (mainly because my kids were bringing things home daily). Her answer was “No. We don’t have the time.” The No Child Left Behind legislation has the school districts so scared, all the time in the classroom is spent on reading and math.

    I remember my son in Kindergarten 4 years ago–same situation. All the emphasis was on the skills needed to pass those achievement tests. No science, no social studies, barely any arts and crafts. It was so sad, we moved him out of the public school district and went private.

  43. Shaheen

    That’s a sweet post. With you teaching him how to use your camera, he won’t need to know his numbers. πŸ™‚ I too love how Nathan is squishing his nose to the camera. Very cute!

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