The Secret to Middle School Algebra

cheetos algebraBack to school season is one of my favorite times of year. Not only do I get to shop for new clothes, pens, and pencils, I get to watch my wonderful boys grow up. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that getting them out of the house after a long, hot summer is also a plus!)

This year, Timothy, my youngest son, is taking a big step into middle school. In Alabama, middle school starts at 5th grade – which seems so young to me! Middle school means so many new things: lockers, switching rooms at class time, and facing down teenagers! Timothy and I are both excited and a little scared – we’ve both worried about the transition.

He’s only 10, and yet I feel like we’re dealing with all of these things I thought would hold off until high school. I know I can be there for him when it comes to nervousness and teenagers (after all these years, teenagers don’t scare me!) but there is one thing that I still find terrifying…

…Math homework.

Elementary school math contains all the practical things that I’ve actually used in my adult life. Telling time, calculating percentages, learning fractions for a recipe – all skills I use on a daily basis. But middle school math? That’s when the big dogs come out to play. Algebra. Geometry. Soon, he’ll be taking calculus. I shudder.

If there’s anything I remember from the era of algebra problems, it’s the strangeness of the problems. Nothing was ever normal – it was always two trains hurtling towards one another, or someone buying 28 watermelons at a time. I mean, who does that?

I could hear my ultra-logical son already questioning the practicality of learning such concepts. Why would anyone buy $1820 worth of Cheetos?

pineapple algebraBut, a quick Google search showed me that some parents seem to have taken a literal approach to helping their kids figure out math word problems. I discovered photo after photo of people buying the solutions to those crazy math problems.

I can’t say I blame them. It’s probably a lot easier than helping teenagers with middle school math.

All I know is this. If I have to buy a whole cart of pineapples for a math problem, Timothy is at least going to help me sit down and count them out. And then maybe he’ll review his fractions in the follow up problem – how many pineapple upside-down cakes do we have to make to use them all?

Happy Monday,
~ Mary