Careless mistakes in math

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kugoi
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:28 pm

Careless mistakes in math

Unread post by kugoi » Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:45 pm

I have one child who is not doing well in math, not because he doesn't understand it, but because he makes a lot of careless mistakes. He'll add numbers in his head and loose the tens that needs to be carried, or in story problems will only do half the work and will write that down as the answer. I always make him go back and fix his work and find the right answer. He knows he's getting a C in math from silly mistakes, but he doesn't care. What can I do to encourage him and help him do better?
Mom of 7, ages 14, 10, 8, 6, 4, 1 and new baby.
Have used K, 1st, Adv, ECC, and CtoG

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

Corrections - Careless mistakes

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:03 pm

kugoi wrote:I have one child who is not doing well in math, not because he doesn't understand it, but because he makes a lot of careless mistakes. He'll add numbers in his head and loose the tens that needs to be carried, or in story problems will only do half the work and will write that down as the answer. I always make him go back and fix his work and find the right answer. He knows he's getting a C in math from silly mistakes, but he doesn't care. What can I do to encourage him and help him do better?
Well, I'll start, but hopefully you'll get a variety of perspectives, because this is something people deal with in different ways.

My youngest is the one with the careless mistakes. To me, it's partly caused by his being homeschooled and, for him, the family setting is very relaxed and he doesn't have anyone he needs to impress. The other cause is just my ds's nature. He'd rather do many things besides worry about little details. He was this way even when he wasn't homeschooled (K-2).

I agree with your having your ds go back and correct mistakes. Every-so-often, I'd point out to my ds that his methods resulted in more work not less.

As far as grades, I didn't grade in the elementary years. As he got into junior and senior high, I usually gave my son half credit if he was able to fix his mistakes without help. Also, if he aced a final exam that covered all topics, then I only used that for his final grade, and considered the daily work just part of the learning process.

He's now in calculus through dual credit at a college. I asked him today if he had any wisdom to share about making silly mistakes. He said when he figures out how to solve that himself, he'll let me know. Last week when we were discussing his calc class, he did admit that some of his mistakes are still silly ones. It's probably the reason some of his college math grades have been B instead of A. He is very math gifted but he has his unique quirks, and one of them is silly mistakes.

I guess my own attitude over the years has varied from scolding him regarding the life-and-death situations that could result from small math errors, to just accepting that he has his strengths and weaknesses, and encouragement works best to keep this child working on both. One thing that I did do for this son was work on math facts consistently up through fractions in 7th grade. This was almost half of his math work at times, especially while he was doing Singapore 6A/B. His particular way of doing math in his head sounds a bit like your son, and having those math facts and conversions (fraction/decimal/percent) automatic in his brain has helped him, I think.

For a few years, my ds was on a "math team" where the coach prepared them for competition. When I would sit in, I noticed he encouraged the kids to shout out answers and plenty of the shouts were wrong. The coach never discouraged students from jumping in and trying problems above their level, and he never said anything about all the wrong answers as they prepared, unless he used them as teaching points. Of course, during the final competitions, wrong was wrong. Maybe just focusing on accuracy during tests, rather than the daily work, is the way to go?

My son has had 3 college math teachers so far and each was very different in terms of how strict their grading methods were, whether they allowed extra credit to make up for errors, whether daily work was graded, and even whether math assignments were all done via multiple choice on the computer. That makes me feel okay with having done what worked best for us in our homeschool.

Interested to hear what other suggestions you get, maybe some of them might help my 12th grader LOL,
Julie
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

kugoi
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:28 pm

Re: Careless mistakes in math

Unread post by kugoi » Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:13 pm

Thank you Julie :) The only reason I started doing "grades" was so that he could see how all his silly mistakes added up. I was hoping the C would encourage him to do better, but he doesn't care.

One suggestion I got on another board that I'm going to try and implement is to only assign half the problems, odds or evens. Then if they get stuff wrong they have to go back and do the rest. No silly mistakes means less work! Of course this won't work on the assignments where there's only 6-8 problems to begin with, but on some of the longer assignments it would be very doable. I think that may be the motivation he needs.
Mom of 7, ages 14, 10, 8, 6, 4, 1 and new baby.
Have used K, 1st, Adv, ECC, and CtoG

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