2Nnd Grade Math Homework Stinks! Anyone Else?

Updated on November 15, 2013
J.M. asks from Doylestown, PA
24 answers

Emily is in the 2nd grade and needs to do xtramath 3 times a week. The site has is so it asks questions she knew when she was 2. They want you to do 100 in 3 minutes and then you can move on to the next area.

So right now the questions are
and so on...

BUT although she knows these problems and could do times tables at 3 she doesn’t have them memorized and the speed part makes her nervous so she J. hits anything

so 5+2 will come up and she answers 6. I've gotten to the point my husband has to watch her, it makes M. nuts!! I've talked to other moms they said they are having the same problem. The aftercare teachers told M. they hated it, and the older kids at the table said it makes them hate math too. Also they tested her in the beginning of the year on paper and with ll of these problems she got them all right, now they tested her again and she got a 75...which I know is because of extra math and she is J. writing something quick without thinking about it. I don’t get how they are teaching them to not think for homework and do speed and then want them to think about stuff on the test. Its screwing her up., She's having issues in math when previously she loved it and tested advanced.

Anyone else have issues with this or help in the area?

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So What Happened?

Added: I LOVE math. I did everything by hand until I got to calculas and trig. I was advanced in math and never memorized the basic math functions. I J. don't get it. Every kid has diferent skills. I could work any problem out and understand it but memorization was never my strong suit. It doesnt seem to be hers either. I would've hated math if I was timed on a computer too when I was younger, and I was a mth tutor from 1st grade on up for my peers. I think the paper timed tests would work a lot better. If she doesnt get the answer in 2 seconds the computer marks it wrong and gives her the answer...so there is no way to go at it slow and not have it be pressured

S.B. thats great advice. We always do fast facts in the car since she was 2, or in line. Word problems, (if 4 people were in line 2 got out, 10 got back in...)times tables and so on to pass time. She does great at all of these always have, but her memorization skills aren't that grea.t she likes to figure things out and think. She will get an answer right and then she fidgets in her seat and then she gets every question wrong. Or she says the question out loud before answering and then that wastes her 2 seconds to get it right. its J. so hard to tell her, dont say the question out loud, when in reality in class you want her thinking about the question befor answering. we have parent teacher conferences in 2 weeks. i will be bringing this up

Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

It never gets better. Sorry.

I have my undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance, as well as an MBA with a concentration in finance. I can't do my kids math problems without confusing myself.

But this sounds like it's J. learning the facts. Find another way to get her to learn them - make it fun. Use toys, stickers, jelly beans, whatever. Find a way for her to visualize the numbers and that might help.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Columbia on

This is normal. The more she does it, the better she'll get.

The point is to teach basic addition, subtraction, and eventually multiplication and division facts in a way that they become muscle memory. Teaching them by rote is the best way to do this, even though it's tough at first.

Encourage her and get extra practice sheets to do drills at home. Don't play into her frustration and "hating" it. Kids tend to hate things that are difficult and love things that come easily. Math requires practice to become easy. Once she's running through the problems smoothly, she'll start enjoying it.

I suggest that you turn the clock away from her and not tell her how many seconds she has left. Have her work on J. completing the whole sheet, and then tell her what time she got. Write it down. The next time, have her focus not on getting it all done in a minute, but on beating her previous time....and celebrate and praise her each time she does. Focusing on personal improvement will get her under a minute in a far more enjoyable way than J. stressing over the clock.

Best of luck!

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My first and 4th grader use the xtra math. It reminds M. of the timed tests we took in school and the kicker for us growing up is 1. it was timed, but 2. if some smarty pants finished first, we all had to put down our pencils.

When my 4th grader started this I printed off those timed paper tests and timed him. I made him stop at 1 min and through the paper timed practice in our home with a pencil, the online with a computer became easier. I have also found keyboards with a number pad is easier than the ones with out.

I agree with the other C. (lee) it is about teaching your kids to memorize and recognize and not have to "figure" it out every time. The online coach even tells kids that and gives hints to help them. So, if you haven't, allow your daughter to learn from the online "teacher" (the dude in the red shirt).

While it is challenging, sounds like it is teaching her and developing skills that aren't currently her strengths. Keep at it, be supportive and "this too shall pass" :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

She's still in basic math and they are J. emphasizing old school rote memorization mathematics. The quicker she can memorize simple addition/subtraction, the easier mulitiplication, division, fractions and decimals will be for her.

I tell the students I tutor and their parents that basic math is J. like learning the alphabet - as soon as the kids see a letter they immediately know what it is, right? Same for addition/subtraction. As soon as they see 5+2 they should immediately know what it is without thinking.

Math is all about practice. Its hard for alot of kids because its very practical, but it can be fun because of all the lines, patterns and combinations you can come up with.

I personally hate hate hate math sites. Learning math via pointing and clicking among a few options is NOT the way to learn/teach. Plus, I'm pretty sure most math tests in jr. high and high school are on paper, so right now elementary kids aren't learning how to show their work. You are J. going to have to supplement at home with practice sheets.

2nd grade is hard for alot of students because that's when schoolwork gets real. Here in Texas that's ok because they don't start standardized testing until 3rd grade, so while 2nd grade math pushes all the math facts and accuracy, its good practice for when it really matters in 3rd grade.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We too use Xtra math. And even as a former math teacher, I am not a fan of the site. I wish is had a working app, where the kids could J. press the number. (I found an app, but it didn't work correctly. Showed answers before I could even press the number)

The keyboard and mouse, while important skills, throw my kiddo off too. He knows the answer (and the timer doesn't bother him, he knows it in plenty of time), but he gets flustered and angry when he clicks the wrong number or keys it in incorrectly. It throws him off for the rest of the quiz.

I talked to our teacher about it. She J. wants the kids to know their facts well and know them quickly. She had no problem letting us change it up. Out of respect for the teacher we still do xtra math three times a week. (I don't want my kiddo to be under the impression we J. do what we want when homework is hard or frustrating). But in addition we do flash cards, random fact quizzes in the car. I printed up mad minute papers online and mornings we are ahead of schedule he does them (this has shown the most improvement). I also found some apps online that are a bit more user friendly. So maybe change it up a bit? Add to the curriculum being sent home to do.

p.s. I agree with the other posters...unfortunately rote memorization of these facts is J. a necessity for success later in math. Nothing more frustrating as a middle school math teacher to see kids bogged down by simple facts.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Whenever my kid seems to be having problems with homework I talk to the teacher. J. shoot her a quick email, she can give you some tips and probably speak to your daughter about strategies to use when doing these problems online.
Trust M., the teacher WANTS to know when your child is having a problem. Too many parents try to take care of it (or correct the child's work) themselves. Teachers need feedback from parents so they can best support their students. Don't wait until the parent teacher conference, send her an email with your concerns NOW.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

All I can offer is a "same boat, sister." I don't have any solutions.

My guy is in 2nd grade too, and has always loved math, been advanced in it, etc. And, he HATES these timed things. The last time, he got 23 out of 100. He J. did the first 23 problems, got every one of them right, and ran out of time. I count myself (and him) very lucky that it hasn't seemed to affect his self-esteem yet, but he's gone from loving math to hating it.

It drives M. absolutely bonkers that they *say* they want kids to figure out their own solutions to problems, that there are multiple strategies for figuring out, say, 18x4. But then, they start a timer clicking. How are you supposed to explore multiple, creative strategies and simultaneously beat the clock???

I'll be reading the other responses with interest.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Math is wonderful. I love math.

Anything that makes kids hate math is a bad thing. "Education is the lighting of a fire,not the filling of a pail."

I usually don't like interfering with teachers, because their job is so hard, but this really needs to be discussed with the teacher. If other parents agree, have them join you.

Kids should not be turned off of learning because of overly-difficult busywork.

If it were M., and my kid was starting to hate math, I would alter the homework and tell the teacher I was doing it. Excess homework is b.s. I have come to completely disagree with most homework, after my 25 years of parenting, and after working in schools and going back to school myself.

In Finland's much-vaunted education system, homework is minimal.

And, your daughter is only in second grade! Tell that teacher to stop extinguishing your daughter's fire.

p.s. Mira -- Multiple strategies for figuring out 18x4? That's bulls**t. They are throwing out the baby in the Common Core bathwater.

Mira's story makes my point. "He has gone from loving math to hating it." What more evidence do you need?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I know right now this seems like a really big deal. But in reality, they are J. trying to help the kids know these basic equations by heart. Once she has them down, she will easily move on to multiplication.

The way we used to practice the timed addition tests was to go over them as your daughter is doing.. and all the ones that would stump or hang up , or our daughter wold miss, we would then next J. call out these tough ones.

I would try to have her write them out on paper, work them with her finger in rice, have her use number cards.. This way these were the ones we put or energy into. She could visualize these problems and in a way, feel them.

We used to also have our daughter call out the hard ones to M. and my husband. Sometimes we would give the wrong answer so she could correct us. (sometimes, we really did mess up)

She is like M. and hates timed quizzes. Never had a problem on tests that were not timed tests or a test that gave plenty of time, but if it was some sort of race test, we freeze.

If it makes you feel any better, our daughter may not be fast at math, but she was still an excellent student all the way through college. Lots of academic awards.

J. mention it to the teacher as an FYI, but in reality, this is not a deal to stress over. Your child is not going to be the best or perfect at everything, but this does not make her a bad student.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

That is silly.
We never did that and we are both strong in math.
I wouldn't worry. I cannot force my kid to hate math...I J. can't.
Shame on the teachers.
I do remember ONE timed test in 3rd grade and it was fun! Like a game to see if we could do it.

Our third grader does not get any special math stuff really. Every now and then a worksheet, a few times a month maybe?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

We don't use a computer, but at my kid's school 2nd grade is timed addition and subtraction and 3rd and 4th are timed multiplication and division. I HATE it! My daughter could do 3 digit addition and subtraction with borrowing in her head in second grade, but she couldn't get those easy probelms during the timed math test. She has ADHD, hates to be rushed, is very methodical, but is also very smart. We are struggling with multiplication tables now- 40 problems in 2 minutes...ugh!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would have her go through the math without focusing on speed. Can she do them? Yes? Then do them again and again so that over time she is quicker as they are held in memory. Consider flash cards or putting a list on the back of the seat of the car (my DH did that for SD's times tables) or find another way to make a game of it. Find out from the teachers how she learns best if you don't know. I am auditory, but my DD needs to see it and write it down. If she USES it, she is good. So find out how your DD needs the information and present it over and over. I would encourage her to trust herself when she knows the answer, but take enough time to give the right answer. IMO, it is better to have a solid 75 than be freaking out over the clock. She will get better. You know she knows them. She J. needs to put her brain to paper to show other people she knows them.

IMO it's hard when they teach kids all these ways to get to an answer and then do these tests that don't give the kid time to use those methods. It's got to be confusing!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would speak with the teacher and let her know that the homework is destroying your child's love for math and that you will not be doing it. If she has other suggestions, I would be open to listening but really - there is ZERO evidence that doing homework benefits elementary and middle school age children. And it would be horrible to discourage her from believing she can do math at this early age.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I understand your daughters frustration with xtramath. I had the same issues with my kids. However I made them stick with it and eventually they got it. You say she already knows all the facts, so don't worry if she gets some wrong on xtramath because she is nervous, you know she knows them. J. have her do it three times a week like she is supposed to, she is still getting practice. It takes a while for the kids to get used to typing. What I did for one of my kids who I knew had the facts down but J. got anxious trying to type them fast enough, is I would type the answer for her as she said it. For my other kids who were J. learning I had them type it themselves because if I did then I would J. be giving them a longer time to figure it out. I like xtramath because kids do need to memorize the facts. One of my daughters struggles in math because she never memorized her facts, so when they have unit tests or state tests she does not do good because it takes her too long to figure out the answer. I know it's hard but I say please have her do it. J. don't make the same mistake I did and don't pressure her about it. J. let her do it and let her know it's okay if she gets some wrong, let her know that you know she knows them and this is J. extra practice. I have learned that the more my kids see M. frustrated the more frustrated they get, so even though I might agree its not the best sometimes, I keep my mouth shut and try to encourage them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Have her practice her facts daily until it becomes second nature. I used to think it wasn't important to memorize the facts. I was more keen on her knowing how to work things out. This was until one mom pointed out a very valid point. All tests are timed. Its a prep for more advance math.

There is no reason why she can't memorize facts and still continue to do the rest of what she is doing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

LOL I thought it was J. M.. My 4th grader, who is an excellent math student, looks like a complete idiot if you were to judge by his XtraMath scores. In his class they only care that the kid actually logs on and does something X number of times a week. His performance doesn't affect his math grade.

Mine is also a "figure it out" kind of kid but isn't one for rote memorization of facts and unfortunately, that rote memorization of facts with instant recall is was the XtraMath modules I've seen emphasize.

I J. have him do the exercises and move on...he has no idea that his scores are pretty lousy.

I don't have any suggestions, J. wanted to let you know that I agree with you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Don't get too wrapped up in it. It's J. a phase in her education, some are frustrating others are fun. Help her to stay calm and go through the process the best she can.

Remind yourself that she'll be fine, after all it is still J. 2nd grade math.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yes. My GD froze once that timer was on. I J. told her not to worry about the timing and that as long as I KNOW she can add/subtract/multiply, etc. don't worry about the stupid timed test. Take your time - do your best - I don't care if you finish or not. Again, as long as I KNEW she KNEW the material I could have cared less how she scored on the test.

So, if I were you, that's what I'd tell my kid. Don't worry about the time, J. take your time and do your best and who cares what the teacher says or thinks. You and Mommy know that you can do it and that's all that matters. Even if it affects her grade, who cares? It's not like any college is going to look at her 2nd grade math score!

BTW, this is all in preparation for that stupid test they take at the end of the year. That's why I don't get worked up over timed assignments. The test at the end of the year is to test the teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. I don't allow them to get my GD all stressed out because it really has nothing to do with her - it's a test of THEIR teaching ability. I figure if they've done their job, then there is nothing to stress over. If they haven't, then the stress belongs to them, not the children.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

I don't have much advice, J. wanted to say I'm right there with you! My daughter is in second grade too and they don't want them counting on their fingers! At one point I asked my daughter if she was J. guessing or what and she said the timer makes her feel nervous and that she feels rushed. And then they have the counting up strategy, counting down strategy, touchpoint counting (I remember my dad teaching M. that one), and so on. I try telling her J. to visualize them in her head to memorize them. I throw numbers out as we're driving and stuff. But, yeah, she's having a hard time. It gets frustrating. I don't remember learning math like they're doing it now, but then I've always been bad at math too. Anyway, I'll be checking back for answers!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Math facts, is largely about memorizing.
Especially multiplication.
Anyway, with little kids, if they are not consistently reviewing or doing what they previously "memorized" or practicing what knew how to do... they forget.
And thus, the differences in scores when they complete a math "test." Even if you know they know it.
Kids, forget.
So they need to, continuously, practice and review.

THEN: per computer based math tests and it being timed... kids do NOT know how to "type" and they don't know... where all the keys are on the keyboard.
HENCE, in 2nd grade, my daughter's Teacher, told parents, that it is a GOOD idea, for their kids to learn how to type.
And this is a site the Teacher recommended:

You see, kids nowadays are not taught how to type/keyboard.
Hence, because many school tests are on the computer, the times and accuracy, gets messed up.
Because, they type wrong and/or do not know where the keys are on the keyboard.
And they make typos. Answer wrongly.
And yes, these tests are timed.
And EACH time, a kid, looks at the computer screen... then looks down at the keyboard to find the key on the keyboard... it slows down the time... of their test taking. And they make mistakes, because they do not know how to type/keyboard.

It takes practice.
And for a kid to learn keyboarding/typing.
And even if a kid does know the math and has things memorized, they STILL need to practice it.
Or they simply forget it.
And it it no longer instinctual or automatic.

The problem is not that your daughter doesn't know how to do it.
The problem is, kids don't know how to type, nor do they know how to type without looking at a keyboard, and they do forget what they previously had, memorized. And hence, accuracy is lost.

My kids are 7 and 11.
My son who is in 2nd grade, knows how to do subtraction/addition/multiplication with 3 digit numbers etc. But, if we do not practice with him or refresh his memory about it, he, forgets.
When my daughter was in 4th grade, although she had her math facts and multiplication all memorized... IF she did not do it consistently and reviewed what she previously learned, even if it was something from last year, she forgot. It.
And hence, her accuracy was messed up.
Even if she DID, know it, previously.
AND then, per computer based school tests and assessments... well, carelessness also impacts a kids' final score. Because they "rush" when doing tests. And they do NOT, look over their answers twice or thrice, and they make careless errors. OR... they are typing in their answers, wrong. On the computer. Because, kids do not know how to type... nowadays.

Don't expect her to have everything fully 100% memorized in 2nd grade.
And if she makes mistakes, well, that is human.
But teach her how... to be more careful, to look over her answers, how to not "rush" etc.
And NO kid, is perfect, nor 100% perfect. This is only 2nd grade.
And even if a kid is in 4th grade and knows that stuff, that does not mean they will be 100% perfect and error free all.of.the.time.

Performance and scores, fluctuate.
It is not static or stagnant.
And developmentally they change too.

All throughout school, things will be done on paper... and on the computer. Some being timed, and some not.
It is multifaceted.
Comprehension and application of concepts, also occur and different rates and is not always occurring in tandem.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Total agreement!!!!!!! And what the hell are number lines??? I do not feel like my 2nd grader should be getting an hour and 15 min. of homework nightly. It is too much, too soon.



answers from Portland on

When I was a kid, we had a "game" with multiplication flash cards, in which each child took a turn answering three cards as quickly as possible. I dreaded those games, because I couldn't even give answers I knew when that time pressure was on. I still get uncomfortably rattled by timed activities, and don't enjoy games that include that factor. And I still don't know ALL of my multiplication tables quickly – that task simply became too onerous. I do get the right answers, when needed, but I take a few extra seconds. No big deal.

Kids who need NOT to have this pressure can't gain as much from timed math homework, and as many of the responses below testify, they may actually cause some kids to lose ground. Hopefully, only temporarily, but the discouragement and rattling of confidence can have long-term effects.

Some kids love computer activities, and though I don't know this, I'll bet a few of them like these drills. Schools need to hear from parents of those who are handicapped by this approach. The nationally known educator Alfie Kohn believes no homework is needed in the early years, and that many schools load on way too much to be good for students. Read more here: www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/homework.htm‎



answers from Philadelphia on

Drilling math facts for speed is actually pretty standard for second grade.She's SUPPOSED to be memorizing them, no matter how early she could add on her fingers. She needs to get to the next level, and that is always frustrating and more so for bright kids for whom things have come easily so far.

Can you do some drills on worksheets or flash cards so she gets some extra practice without the time pressure? Help her really learn and memorize the facts so she doesn't have to think about it for the timed test? It's one of those things that doesn't come without practice in any case.



answers from Boston on

Random thoughts from reading your post and the responses.

Memorization can be very useful. This may work out well in the end.

Dealing with frustration can be character building or hate building. I think the key is not to be overwhelmed completely, which I think she is at this point.

The teacher probably did not decide to use this. It is required by some school systems.

Yes, it is a response to the need to prepare for tests. For years folks have screamed for better test scores than other countries, and accountability by classroom. This is part of the result. Not good, but J. saying.

My child is a clever, computer wizard and is well employed because of this. Math facts were not her strong suit and she worked around them. She would have hated these tests. You are entirely right that not all kids excel in the same areas. Please ask the teacher for advice. If the test is mandatory (from above the teacher's level) or if the teacher thinks your daughter could benefit from this method after practice, consider working with the teacher to build these skills.

Last thought. When I was little, we had timed tests in reading comprehension. Every day we had a three minute mini-test. I hated them, even though I was an above-average reader. I understand your daughter's frustration. Please give her a hug for M.. All my best.

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