There are several problems with Everyday Math Home Links and the Everyday Math program in general.
- To start off, it is not designed for children with low skills. I have children in my class who cannot count to 20, cannot accurately count out 10 objects (including their own fingers), and cannot write their numbers. The program is designed for children with grade level skills and above. If you actually analyze the majority of activities that correspond to the lessons, they are so far above the state standard for the grade, it is no wonder our children can't do them. To their credit, they did add a small section at the bottom of the homework assignments to practice basic skills.
- The second issue is that often the homework assignment does not necessarily correspond to the lesson that was taught in the classroom (although the latest addition has improved slightly in this respect). I have to spend 20 additional minutes teaching the children how to do their homework.
- The third issue is that Everyday Math is so different from the way many of my students' parents learned math that they are unfamiliar with the vocabulary and the structure of the program.
- The fourth issue is the "spiral" format of the curriculum. You jump from one concept to the next "exposing" them to a wide range of concepts that then get revisited later. The children never feel successful during this "exposure" and don't get enough practice with basic skills.
- The fifth problem (I feel like I'm going on forever!) is that the homework assignments are very dependent on parents READING the instructions. If most of your children's parents are illiterate, how are they supposed to manage this?
The result: Many students either do not do their homework at all, someone else does it for them, or they do it so painfully wrong that it doesn't seem worth it. For example, an activity made to reinforce basic skills (usually an add-on at the bottom of the actual homework assignment) might look like this:
Count back by 1s.
_10_ _____ _____ _____ __6__ ______ _____
This is what I get from the kids:
__10__ __11___ ___12___ ___13___ ___6___ ___7___ ____8___
You can only imagine what the actual homework assignment looked like if this is how the basic skills part came out. I really think that Everyday Math NEEDS to rethink how it designs curriculum and homework. They need to really think about parents who CANNOT help their children.