Math - Students who have major difficulty with math

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mandolin
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:53 pm

Math - Students who have major difficulty with math

Unread post by mandolin » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:02 pm

My Math Nightmare
deltagal wrote:Okay - I'm exaggerating. Math doesn't keep me up at night, but that may be the problem. My 13 yo son does not like math. He abhors it and will do anything he possibly can to avoid it. We were using Singapore, but it became more and more of a labor without love, so we used another curriculum for the last year. However, I would like to put him back into Singapore. I didn't run a placement test, but just picked up in the books where we left off a year ago, which was 4A the section on fractions. So, we're in 4A at present, but this young man is 13 and in 7th grade. Theoretically we should be in Saxon. When I talked to MFW about what to do. They were very encouraging, but they recommended of course working longer each day in Singapore. I simply can't get my 13 yo to do this. Even if he would work longer each day I don't know that it would benefit him. He seems SLOW to grasp the concepts. Any thoughts? I'm thinking about down the road, because it seems so difficult for him.
I think sometimes it just takes time. I and another friend had boys in Pre-Algebra in 10th grade. They just couldn't grasp it til then. I think you have to just slow down and let them take as long as is needed to grasp the concepts. I think if you persevere with whatever curriculum you think he understands the best he will eventually get it.

As an alternative, do you have someone who really loves math in your family who could tutor him? I have my father and a friend's father who could do that in a pinch. It really helps to have another perspective sometimes.
deltagal wrote:Mandi,
Thank you for your thoughts. I'm okay with moving slow, but MFW in a very loving way really felt strongly he should move along at a better clip. So, I'm trying to move him along. I'm the closest in the household there is to a math lover. Tell me about your son what grade and math is he in at this point. Did you go the Saxon route with him?
Actually I used Teaching Textbooks in the higher grades, which helps him some. I still have to go over alot with him. I have used Teaching Textbooks with all of my children after the lower levels. I have used Singapore, but I prefer Saxon at the lower levels with the consistent, constant drilling. It keeps me on track with lots of review. I have 2 boys who seem to do math easily and 3 that require some help. My Dad was great in Calculus, so they didn't get his genes I guess. They got my other side of the family! :)

My oldest is in 11th grade and he is in Algebra 1 in Teaching Textbooks. He is maintaining a 76% average, which is great for him. I used to get frustrated with his lack of progress, but I am seeing that for him it is just not his strength. He loves to Evangelize and read his Word. He loves History and enjoys talk about Creation vs. Evolution with the neighbor boys. He feels like he would like to preach someday ( he already is in progress there.) So, that is why I am satisfied with his progress. If he goes to college, it will probably be a small Bible college that doesn't require rigorous math programs. That is our history.

I appreciate MFW and their wisdom - your son may need to move ahead in his case. They have years of experience more than I do. Every child is different. Thanks for asking. :)
Mandi
widow, remarried now 5 years to wonderful hubby
Loving MFW!
ECC with DSons 11 and 13, MFW 1st with DS, 8
homeschooling for 13 years

OkiAubreyC
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:48 pm

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by OkiAubreyC » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:40 pm

Hi there! I can offer some suggestions regarding Singapore. One thing you must keep in mind is that in the country of Singapore (we live in Southeast Asia) it is understood that parents will drill, drill, drill. Also, teachers write their own tests. So Singapore does not have much of the drill work that American style textbooks have. Most families place their child in Kumon after school several days/week.

If you have access to Kumon in your neighborhood, it is an excellent way to bring him up to grade level faster. It is not cheap, but we found it to be an efficient way for our kids to brush up on our host country's language and reading.

If that is not a viable option, may I suggest Khan Academy online? (google it). The teacher Mr. Khan has made hundreds of videos teaching math concepts from elementary up to advanced math. It is free, and your child can watch problems being solved over and over again.

It sounds like your 13 year old has not mastered the basics of arithmetic, so asking him to work with fractions is too difficult. He may still be in the "concrete" stage with regards to mathematics, even though he is moving on in other subjects. Games like Math It, advanced Math It, and multiplication.com will help him master the basics so that he isn't thinking so hard every time he sits down to work. Imagine if you sat down to read the Bible and you only had mastered 20% of the phonics rules? You'd dread it every time. It's the same with Math. Once certain skills are automatic, the brain works more efficiently and can concentrate more on the new material.

Are you personally teaching him using the textbooks and teacher's guides? He needs to do the very concrete lessons first and then explain it back to you. I agree that he needs to be doing at least an hour per day. Do it first thing in the morning and push him to finish his work. Offer him this: If you get half the problems correct at 100% (I make my sons do the odds or evens) then you do not have to do the other ones. They will strive for accuracy every time. Don't take a break for summer. Keep working through and you will catch him up, I think!

Blessings,
Aubrey

cbollin

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by cbollin » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:56 pm

OkiAubreyC wrote:Hi there! I can offer some suggestions regarding Singapore. One thing you must keep in mind is that in the country of Singapore (we live in Southeast Asia) it is understood that parents will drill, drill, drill.
agreeing with Aubrey about the singapore drill is part of the classroom experience... and other things she mentioned.

in MFW plans in 1A/1B they remind us to do drills each day. Lots of options on that. wow.. lots of options.. on math archive, scroll down for Math Facts- drills. wow... lots there
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewforum.php?f=23
anyway, it can be flashcards etc. or games, etc.

back to deltagal...
With Singapore, can you share with us what you are doing to help teach bar diagrams and other ideas? One thing that really helped us with a very concrete thinker was to think of Singapore mental math not as "doing this all in your head", but rather to think of it as "this is the process" and then we'd draw it or build it and talk out loud. Work it together. And blush blush.... her little brain (try as much as she wants) is not on par with her peers. She's mildly delayed (as in a medical diagnosis), so we make flowcharts for her to follow when "Oh, I can't remember this, help me" and blush blush - this will be a very controversial statement... at age 13, we let her use calculator when her brain just can't recall facts. concepts she has.... rote memory... anyway..

Like another poster said, some children aren't ready for abstract math until high school.

-crystal

deltagal
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:13 pm

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by deltagal » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:03 pm

Mandi,
Thank you for sharing. Your thoughts are very helpful.

Aubrey,
Thank you for all your insight. Oddly enough, there is a Kumon not far from my house. It just depends on the pricing. I've already sent in an inquiry based on your recommendation. I do sit and work with him from start to finish. We draw the lessons. Practice. Practice. Practice. And then practice some more. I don't leave his side until he is completely done with everything. In fact I spend SO MUCH TIME on math instruction at our house that I've even pondered dropping him back to the 3A book, so he can work with his brother and I can teach them both at the same time. We've been working year round on math for quite some time. I think he has created some sort of mental block. He is highly visual, but I have a difficult time getting him to look at the drawings as I'm talking things through with him. And yes, I think you are on to something about thinking so hard. He just seems to think so hard. I can't get him to work quickly. Carefully, yes. Quickly, no. I do timed drills with all the children one day a week and everyone else works hard to beat their time. He casually works along and when he's done - long after the time has expired he'll hand in his sheet and say "they are all correct." And they are, but you know....

Crystal,
I'll look at the link you posted. Thank you. And for the bar diagrams, we draw, draw, draw. I had difficulty understanding them at first, but using Math Mammoth as a supplement helped me understand them immensely, so I can teach the children. Word problems are EXTREMELY difficult and yet, he's definitely making progress. He can definitely do math computations and word problems he could not do a year ago. He's just a long ways from grade level.

Thank you to all of you!
With Joy!
Florence
http://awhynotblog.blogspot.com/

dd 7: MFW 1st grade
ds 10, 13, 15: ECC - maps, missionaries, and reading on Wednesdays
dd 2: ?

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:17 pm

I'm just going to reinforce what Aubrey and Crystal are saying ... and reinforce that math drill and math concepts/lessons are really two different things.

With math drill, if your son hasn't mastered addition facts, then that's where he should start, and that's where he should stasy until he has them mastered. Aubrey mentioned Kumon and I have worked there in the past. They start with math drill. You can do pretty much the same thing at home -- if you are diligent and work on drill every-single-day. It's not something that can be worked on hit-or-miss.

With math concepts or math lessons, these don't necessarily have to match the level of the math drill. He might be learning algebra in his lessons but still working on addition in drill. Now, it's great when they move along together at the same speed, but just saying that they don't always match up and that's okay. Maybe he'll really get the concepts but be slow at the facts, or vice versa. Math concepts are the things Singapore works on in their textbooks, and Singapore starts with concrete pictures, then transitions with the thinking bubbles, until finally problems are presented in their abstract form with just numerals and signs.

Then there's the issue of fast & carefree -vs.- slow & careful. I've had one of each in my homeschool, and I can see the strengths of each way. I imagine in God's world, there would be a place for each. However, in man's world, I only see a place for the fast :~ Does your son do everything slowly & carefully, or is it just math? Are you able to tell if he really doesn't get things in math (or in general), vs. he just takes a long time? Is he bothered by taking so long, or does he seem to "want" to take that long? I had a girlfriend in high school who read incredibly slowly. So her homework took tons longer than ours. But she just plugged along & did it... enjoyed the reading about just the same as we did (or didn't), I think. Does your son mind having longer homework if he is allowed to work on his own?

Just a few things that come to mind,
deltagal wrote:Julie, He is slow in all things. His work (and this is not a joke) should be on exhibit somewhere. It is beautiful. Numbers carefully formed. Illustrations. Lettering. Lovely. REally. But he tires and when he is doing math (which we do first) he tires, because it takes him so long. I push him to complete a full lesson, although he would like to stop after the instruction. I like your thoughts about drill versus concepts and lessons. We are working on addition and subtraction in his drill work and fractions in his lessons.
I imagine testing might be helpful. If we had tested our slow dd, I do think she might have had a diagnosis.

But meanwhile at home, I am thinking of a couple of things.

First, I think it could help to separate things out as much as you can -- maybe drill separate from math lessons, maybe together time separate from independent homework, maybe even separate out pencil time from math time (using the pencil for copywork and not for math). I know the discipline of the pencil must be learned, but I hate to have kids learning discipline while they are concentrating on math concepts. Since you're already spending lots of time on this with him, maybe you could do things orally, on a marker board, or even by dictation for a while so he can use all of his brain power on the actual math concepts & drill (which can be done orally, too). We did all of the Singapore textbook orally or on marker board, even the reviews. But you could even do the workbook problems that way, if need be. And if all that fails, then you've narrowed it down to just the math lessons, themselves, and you can feel comfortable that you are just going at the pace he needs.

Second, I am thinking that whatever time you can spend teaching him how to navigate this fast-paced world will be time well spent. I would separate this training out from math or maybe even from all academics, gently helping him recognize that his pace is out-of-sync with today's world and that he will need strategies to compensate. What can he skip, what can he do differently, or what can he compensate for by using his other strengths? Would it help him to develop cheat-sheets for reference, games, songs, or mnemonics to get himself moving forward? How about dictating new ideas aloud to himself so he isn't dwelling too long on text, or watching some videos (such as Kahn) for reinforcement as new concepts sink in? There are all kinds of crazy ways folks can learn and keep going forward; my own experience is that it all comes down to knowing what exactly works for you.

HTH,
Julie
ETA: More experiences:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 931#p45789
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

OkiAubreyC
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:48 pm

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by OkiAubreyC » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:45 pm

I had one more thought. I am not sure how much testing your son has received. If I had a child working 3 full grades below his level, I'd have him tested by a psychologist. I have had to go that route with two of my kids for very different reasons. However, the $250 price tag was well worth the unbiased professional insight.

Tests I'd consider ~ intelligence, academic/achievement, and also for processing disorders and attention disorders. There are several tests they can give your child for attention and auditory processing delays. In our family's case I researched the tests myself and came equipped with some knowledge to the psychologist's office. I told him my concerns and what tests I'd like taken and he obliged me --but also administered two other tests! The information was VERY thorough and enlightening. It is when we had our "aha" moment.

What you do with that information is up to you.

I'd love to write more but we are at the end of our lunch time and I need to go work with my son on his Japanese!

Blessings,
Aubrey
DS 11 Christian School
DS 9 Homeschooler
DD 7 Christian school
DD 2
DD 7 mos

deltagal
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:13 pm

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by deltagal » Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:17 am

Good morning all,

I am highly motivated after having initiated this thread. Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement.... I think my big focus in the short term is incorporating more drill. We spend a great deal of time on instruction (IMHO). Back to drill - what are some of the most effective ways some of you have found to incorporate this on a regular basis, and how much time do you spend?
With Joy!
Florence
http://awhynotblog.blogspot.com/

dd 7: MFW 1st grade
ds 10, 13, 15: ECC - maps, missionaries, and reading on Wednesdays
dd 2: ?

cbollin

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by cbollin » Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:45 am

hugs and prayers...

uh.. I think I just realized who you are from another forum.... welcome back???

anyway... I try to keep math drills to 5 minutes or less. Our current favorite fun way is to use an online program called Xtra math.

(((hugs))) how much time a day is this student doing in math with Singapore? I know to speed it up with my slow to average gal, we did stuff out loud and worked on dry erase boards too. I know she had diagnosed delays from a long time ago..

Jamie
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:04 am
Location: Montana

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by Jamie » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:45 am

We've been using Calculadders that I've laminated. Then the kids can use the small dry erase board markers (black ones erase the best on the laminated drills) to do their timed drills. When they're finished with their drill, they can just erase and use it again the next day....or move on to the next one. This has saved us a lot of copying around here.
Jamie
Married to my sweetie for 16.5 years
14 ds, 12 dd, 10 dd, 7 ds, 4 ds, 1.5 dd
MFW K, ECC, CtG, RtR, Ex to 1850, & 14 yo currently in 1850 to Modern

deltagal
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:13 pm

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by deltagal » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:56 am

Crystal,
Good thoughts. Yes, I am seasonally active on another Forum. They prefer that you not mention other curricula you utilize. My 7 yo began using MFW 1st grade several weeks ago - a wonderful material. And I use ECC with everyone one day a week. It's a slow process, but one of the highlights of the week!

And I think this is THE BEST Forum for Singapore questions. It was MFW that got me to use it in the first place. WE do use a whiteboard for the Singapore. It just takes LONG. This morning he did a review and by the time he finished, and all work was checked, questions answered. It was an hour. HE did 15 minutes of IXL online.
With Joy!
Florence
http://awhynotblog.blogspot.com/

dd 7: MFW 1st grade
ds 10, 13, 15: ECC - maps, missionaries, and reading on Wednesdays
dd 2: ?

MelissaM
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:52 pm

Unread post by MelissaM » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:12 pm

Hi there!

I cannot add any wisdom to the great words you've already gotten, but for drill I will say the one thing we have been doing this year is playing a card game called Speed! (The exclamation point is part of the title, lol).

I think you can only buy it on Amazon, but it was developed by a homeschooling mom and it really helps with the multiplication facts, AND it's really fun. Much more fun than flashcards; my dd enjoys it even if she loses, which is really saying something as her frustration/tolerance level is pretty low, esp wrt math. You can play a hand really quickly, so you can spend as little as 5 minutes doing it - or you can set aside some time and have a Speed! marathon - it's easy to lose track of time, and get into it, at least for us.

I do agree that I would probably have some kind of diagnostic testing done; it sounds like it might be helpful. I also agree that sometimes kids just take time to "get it." I ALSO agree (haha) that I might separate out pencil time from math time - do it orally, or on a whiteboard, or you do the writing for him.

(Doing fractions with my dd yesterday and could see that she just was not getting it at all. Wanted to move forward, but forced myself to reteach the concept today on the white board - what is 1/4 of a dozen eggs? Wow. It made a difference and she seemed to really get it. I constantly have to remind myself that there is simply no point in rushing forward, if she doesn't understand what she needs to - it will only slow us down later.)

HUGS,
:)
Melissa
DD13
DS10
DS5
DS2

deltagal
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:13 pm

Re: My Math Nightmare

Unread post by deltagal » Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:28 pm

Thank you to everyone for your valuable thoughts. I appreciate all your insights. We'll keep pushing forward.

Postby deltagal » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:17 pm

A bit of an update, since my initial post. We've decided to incorporate some IXL http://www.ixl.com/ into our daily routine at a separate time from the math lesson. I can already see this time solidifying concepts. I remembered after reflecting on this thread that a math teacher had shared with me that computer reinforcement is an invaluable tool for math students - providing instant feedback and regular practice. I''m grateful for the encouragement I've received in this thread. You've all been a blessing. I'll give you an update down the road.

Postby deltagal » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:39 pm
I thought I would post an update. My 13 yo is picking up speed! He's now rolling through 4B and is able to work up to an hour a day in the book. WE continue to use the IXL on-line drills daily and he is doing GREAT! I think what has happened is between the on-line drill and covering more ground in the workbook he's starting to "remember" the concepts. He's not a math lover, but he no longer declares to me each day how much he "hates" math.

I spoke with David Hazell last week about where we are and his thoughts. He felt that my son is very on-track if he continues at this pace to be in SAxon 8/7 by the fall when he'lll be in 8th grade. Hazell said not to do any placement testing, just begin it in the fall. Hazell also suggested that I encourage my son to work hard and then he can have the rest of the summer off after he finished 5B until fall. I'm very encouraged. Thank you MFW!!
With Joy!
Florence
http://awhynotblog.blogspot.com/

dd 7: MFW 1st grade
ds 10, 13, 15: ECC - maps, missionaries, and reading on Wednesdays
dd 2: ?

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