How hard could it be to get 100% on Math?

Andrew loves video games.

He does homeschool with mom every morning.  One of the things he can earn if he gets 2 days where he gets 100% on his math assignments is that he gets a video game day for that week.  It used to be for every one 100% assignment, but we found he was getting too many 100%s and was playing way too much video games.  It’s been a good motivator for him and he’s done well at some local math competitions.  (He’s also done poorly, but those have been good motivators, too.)  So, video games has been a good tool to get him to do some other things that we think might be good for him…

Math BOMB 2017-03-24 009

Every day he does 30 algebra problems and the problems are now getting harder.  And progressively it has been taking longer and longer to do the assignment.  He has not received a 100% in almost a month.   We have been working on double checking everything to see if that would help.  But now, the assignments are taking even longer…   We had a family counsel and I especially had pushed that we should not lower our standards, but we should help him achieve his 100% goal.

Andrew has been complaining that doing the assignment and double checking each problem was taking way too long.  Sometimes, it took 3 hours.  Tenille mentioned that some of that is a lack of focus  I asked Tenille to do an assignment with him and see what he’s having trouble with and see if there might be ways to help him double check.   Also, to baseline how long it’s taking to finish 30 problems if he was focused and staying on track.   She did that and had some concerns that it was actually taking quite long even when he was focused.  And she was concerned that some of the problems were quite lengthy and difficult.

A few mornings later, I sat with him and did a few problems and gave him some pointers on double checking and making sure he’s checking in the fastest way possible that’ll confirm he got the right answer.  For example, he would do a big multiplication problem, then check it by doing long division which was taking 2-3x as long to double check as the original answer.  In those cases, I let him know that it’s ok to just do the problem twice.  For another week, he continued to struggle in getting his 100% (and video game night).

I was determined to help him get there.  So last Thursday, after getting home from work, I sat down with him and did all 30 problems with him.  He likes to race, so that kept him quite focused.  When I saw that he was skimping on double checking, I gave him a few pointers.  We were going pretty fast, and it took us about an hour and a half to finish – which was pretty long.  But, in the end, I felt like we did pretty good.  We both felt like this was the time where we were going to get 100%.  We strode down confidently to get the answer book.

He got the first 10 or so problems right.   But, then started to miss a few questions.  He missed 4 in all.  To my dismay, I missed 2 problems.    Ouch.   Humble Pie does not taste very good…

When Tenille came home, I told her what happened and she gave me the “I told you so” eye.   We talked about it some more… and frankly, I couldn’t feel good about holding my son to a higher standard than I could achieve.  So, at this point, video game nights are back on if he can beat daddy.  (which is get 2 or less wrong).   And he’s already done that twice this week…

I will do another problem set with him sometime soon, and maybe (hopefully), I can set a higher standard… we’ll see… It’s apparently something we can both work on.    Probably a classic case of Do as I say, not as I do… which never works.  If I’m asking the kids to do something, I better be willing to work on it myself…   With some work, I think we can both get there…





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