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Learning alongside my kids

I was raised with a “never stop learning” mindset. My dad worked for a company that was generous with tuition assistance, and he always encouraged employees to get or finish a degree that would advance their work, or made training available to others. He’d often take courses or training alongside them to set a good example. So I’ve tried to find ways to keep learning as well. 

Nowadays, the learning tends to happen alongside my children. 

Gen X parents have joked (or groaned) at some point about not understanding “new math.” There are different strategies being taught to our children, and while it’s confusing to us, it stems from recognizing that all kids learn differently. 

I got my first taste of this when Sophie was in first grade; unfortunately, it was while she was in “corona academy,” so I had to resort to YouTube to figure it out for myself before I helped her with it.  

“Making tens” was confusing to me, but after reading up on it and watching a few videos, I realized that I did that in my own head when adding multiple numbers at once. If I see two numbers that add up to 10, it’s easier to go from there, at least in my brain. 

I did have to do a refresher course recently with current first-grader Annabelle, because my once-sharp brain doesn’t retain all the info it used to. Her teacher said up front that she’s teaching “old” and “new” math and when the kids do their homework, she doesn’t care which method they use as long as it works for them. 

Sophie has hit what I call the “fourth-grade wall” – and while it seems she’s not alone, based on the conversations we soccer moms have had on the sidelines, it’s admittedly taking some learning on my part to help her get through it. 

This is the first year Sophie will get traditional A-F grades, as opposed to E (“exceeds expectations”) and P (“proficient”), etc. She’s always been hard on herself and gets upset when she misses even a single question on a test, so when she struggled with her first science test of the year and figured out what the letter grade would be, she was very upset. 

Here’s where I had to do my homework. My children both learn differently than I did. I was a bookworm and constantly read because I loved to, and I retained knowledge that way. I didn’t study a lot, because I usually remembered what I’d read. 

Neither of my daughters are into reading for fun, much to my dismay. And where Sophie at one time was successful just “studying at school,” she now needs more concentrated study time. 

Thank goodness for the internet. I’ve put my bookworm side to use, at least digitally, to read up on strategies to help her retain what she’s learning and be better prepared for tests.  

I admit this is a process, but she has done better in her recent tests. We keep tweaking, and we have had to rearrange the schedule to make it all flow better, but we keep working on it. 

Never stop learning. Even if it means re-learning first or fourth grade. 



Jen Deinlein
Jen Deinlein is a self-professed “Jen of all trades and master of none.” She’s a SAHM to 8- and 5-year-old daughters, a freelance writer (you can also see her work in CPBJ) and head cheerleading coach at Penn State Mont Alto. She and her family live in Guilford Township, Franklin County, with a golf course in the backyard where they frequently rescue lost golf balls. You can reach Jen on Instagram: @groovypq; Twitter: @jlbd77 or by email: [email protected].

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