Math Facts - Do we stop until these are mastered?

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cbollin

Math Facts - Do we stop until these are mastered?

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:18 am

carissa wrote:Hi, Ladies! I've searched the forum and read some great posts about how to reinforce the basic addition facts. I guess what I'm looking for is a little reassurance that we'll make it through this "block" we have in math, and some input on what my plan should be.

My ds will be 7 in April, and we've been working on basic addition facts in math this year. He's starting to say things like, "I hate math," and "I'm never going to get it!" :( I think some of this can be attributed to a lack of drill on my part. He's never struggled with anything before, and I was pretty relaxed. I made some addition facts flash cards, but I wasn't faithful to use them every day. Now I wonder if I should have been using them a couple times a day!

He understands the concept of addition, and knows some of his facts, but he keeps getting hung up on his +2s (even though he's been able to skip count by 2s for a couple years, he seems to not make the connection between the ideas). His +3s also get mixed up. I figured he'd get them eventually and went on in the lessons.

So, my plan is to set aside the book for now, make him some worksheets, do math games focusing on the addition facts and advancing as he's reached mastery, and make sure drill is a part of our math time daily. I'm strongly considering switching over to Singapore to have a fresh start in math and get rid of the "I hate math" feeling. I'd welcome your teaching ideas, your perspective about kids who get "stuck" here and there, and input about switching. He's not going to be stuck here forever, right? :)

Blessings,
Carissa
(((hugs)))

He's 6.5 years old. It's going to be ok.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of slow them down at this age just because of lack of rote memory skills and speed.

maybe a bit more later...

-crystal

Julie in MN
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:19 am

Hi Carissa,
I agree that you can just relax and move ahead with his age-appropriate lessons (hopefully lots of hands on!). My oldest started K (ps) at age 6, with NO academics before that, and he's an engineer now. It will be okay.

I think moms of kids this age over-interpret the signs they see in their children. Learning symbols for quantities is a very complex thing, and even though kids are excited to do grown-up things like that, they're not really excited to push themselves and learn big new concepts. I remember ages 6-7 when I taught Sunday school and the boys didn't like to color so I made them simple math worksheets and they loved it. But really, it was like playing store. It gave them a grown-up feeling, but they didn't really want to learn to keep accounting books.

I think at this stage, it's best to encourage them and make them feel successful with numbers, to reinforce basic understandings of groups and patterns and the meaning behind the number symbols, rather than to "teach" and drill. I honestly think that will take them further, and take them there faster, in the long run.

JMHO,
Julie
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carissa
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by carissa » Sat Feb 05, 2011 12:55 pm

Thanks for your speedy replies!
cbollin wrote:Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of slow them down at this age just because of lack of rote memory skills and speed.
I'm not sure I understand. Don't slow down just because he isn't memorizing the facts? I thought he needed to learn the math facts before going on. If he has not memorized the +2s and +3s, will he not just feel more confused when we get to the +8s, +9s, and +7s?
Julie in MN wrote:I agree that you can just relax and move ahead with his age-appropriate lessons
So what would age-appropriate lessons that would encourage him with numbers look like? I don't have the Complete Book of Math that MFW1 recommends. We had made a different plan for 1st grade (more classical) before deciding we really did love MFW. (Nothing like switching to make you appreciate what you had!)

I've been looking at the number bonds idea from Singapore, and I printed off the Donna Young triangular flash cards that reinforce those bonds up to 10. He gets the idea, but he usually misses (2 and 4 make 6), (2 and 5 make 7). Yesterday we made up a story about a boy named 6 who met a two-headed dinosaur named 2, and a 4-headed dinosaur named 4. Then the new friends 6, 2, and 4 played together all afternoon at the park. I drew a picture for the story, and I hope that as he looks at the picture and re-tells the story, this will help cement that number bond in his mind. I don't know. Do you think he's not ready for memorizing the addition facts? I thought grammar-stage kids were supposed to be able to memorize anything, even if they don't understand it! ??

I could get Singapore 1A that focuses on the number bonds, and go through it slowly. I could get the Complete Book of Math and have him go through that until we start Adventures in the fall. Hmmmm...

Thanks again,
Carissa
Carissa in Michigan
Wife to Steve for 21 years.
Mom to ds Brendan (10), ds Caden (8) and dd Sydney (8).
We've done MFW-K, ADV, public school for 2 years, and now considering ECC :)

DS4home
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by DS4home » Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:11 pm

Hello,
My dd sounds much like your ds, she will be 7 in May, and also a strong reader. She doesn't have her math facts mastered either, but I keep moving on. I think it will just take time for it to stick.

One thing I have done recently to help her see numbers in another fashion, is tape a sewing tape measure to the edge of her workspace. I cut it so it is only 25 inches long. She thinks this is really cool now, and uses it daily. I had to show her how to start on the first number of the problem and go either forward or backward, etc... Once she understood how to use the number line she loved it !! She was starting to not like math also, but now she has renewed energy :) She sees her math page as an excuse to use the number line, LOL. Whatever it takes :-)

Agreeing with the others, it's ok to keep moving on. Maybe thinking of something new to use as manipulatives would spark interest again? I think it's ok to keep using helps at this age. It seems like cheating to us, but at their age they need the repetition of helps in front of them to eventually create that memory of these facts.

Dawn
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cbollin

Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:13 pm

carissa wrote:I'm not sure I understand. Don't slow down just because he isn't memorizing the facts? I thought he needed to learn the math facts before going on. If he has not memorized the +2s and +3s, will he not just feel more confused when we get to the +8s, +9s, and +7s?
Let me see if I can get my thoughts in the right words without sounding too confusing.

priority:
Work on the concepts.
If he doesn't understand the concept of adding 2 more, then work on concept.
If it is just a matter than he is going slow to think about 5 +2 instead of being able to immediately say 7, then hold him back. Press gently on with drills.

Use all kinds of visual helps to work on concept.
Use number lines and have him start on the first number, then count over 2 spots. (the tape measure that Dawn mentioned is a great way! I used a ruler or yard stick for a while too)
Use those blocks/lego/ cookies... and build the problem out loud.

skip counting by 2's is not the same as adding by 2's. It's not the same concept, so that might be a sign that he doesn't get it, or it might not be. But adding many groups of 2's is not going to work when you have an odd number, right? He might have learned the words to a skip count pattern, but that's actually multiplication.

in terms of the +8 +9... those are taught in MFW 1st with the idea of 4+9 is the same as 3 +10. 4 +8 is the same as 2 +10 (my kids never understood that trick with +8.) again, do those with visual and other methods.

so, if your son can build addition problem with blocks, let him use the blocks a bit longer. I"m a bit concerned that at his age he is already saying "I'll never get this". Let him build the problem. let him use his fingers (gasp! yes! it won't hurt!), let him use a number line. Soon, the more he does that, the more likely that he'll gradually wean himself

Many many children need well into 2nd grade (and some even 3rd or more) to be able to rattle off math rote facts at warp speed.

I'd definitely set the workbook down for a while. and do anything with games and something fun in math that focuses on single digit addition. Do out loud word problems (if you have 4 crackers and I give you 2 more.... how many crackers do you have now?)

gratitude
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by gratitude » Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:13 pm

We love Singapore!

We started Singapore 1A this past fall for 1st grade, age 7. We are now on 1B. I just started math drills, and at this point he is enjoying them (age 7.5). I don't think he would have enjoyed them 6 months ago. He has more math understanding than he did 6 months ago, and going through 1A & most of 1B has a lot to do with that fact. He also has now been introduced to multiplication and division, which he found much more enjoyable and interesting than addition and subtraction. It may sound backwards, but we are starting drills with multiplication facts because that is what he loves. I bought some flashcards on a ring and a multiplication table and I have some CDs in the car with math facts to music, and he is wanting to do this. Six months ago if I had tried to push drills he would have not wanted to do it. At 6 I think it would have over-loaded him, somehow. It doesn't really make sense. He too started reading some to us at age 3, but he also figures out a lot of math on his own. I have learned though with drills with him that they have to be well timed. He memorizes easily, but the timing still has to be right for him to continue loving it. I also think children can hit road blocks. He has reached a few. When he does I always back off and wait 2 -3 months. I learned early on that if I push him at all I will make him hate school and ultimately learning.

My answer in a nutshell is I would give your son a little more math, and then start the drills. I don't know what clicked, but once my ds7 had been introduced to multiplication and division in Singapore 1B a lot of light bulbs went on for math. All of a sudden the puzzle was put together for him, and the ideas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, & division fit together for him at a different level that makes sense to him. Out of this has come a willingness and excitement even and a desire to do drills. I did try a little one year ago when he was 6.5 and he just didn't know enough, and it would bore him. Now he asks for the math drill CDs in the car because the puzzle is coming together and he wants to listen to them and know them.

So do a little more math, and he will get there.
Last edited by gratitude on Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

erin.kate
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by erin.kate » Sat Feb 05, 2011 2:49 pm

You've received some really amazing ideas and encouraging words. Just thought I'd share our experience, too. My oldest just turned 7 and loves, loves math. Loves. ;) With that, she started struggling in the same areas as your son so I thought we needed to slow down on the new material and find a fun way to incorporate math facts into our day. 8[] Sorry --- that's the not-so-mathy side of me laughing.

I ordered Calculadder and it has been really fun. My daughter asks first thing every day to some math drills in the book. They are timed lessons, short and sweet, and we work up to a fun treat for getting each lesson done, correctly, in 2 min or under. I, of course, don't make it an issue if it takes more than 2 min, which it does many times, but we keep plugging along and I make a big to-do when we master a page of math facts in under 2 min. She really lights up and can't wait to put that little sticker on her page. It's fun. Honestly.

Just two weeks of easing on the new and building her math facts, and confidence, has been a blessing to watch. She's refreshed (me too).

Once we were ready to move on with our regular math we just incorporated one or two drills per day, which take only minutes.

My .02. Good luck!
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Wendy B.
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by Wendy B. » Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:43 pm

No, he will not be stuck forever!

My kids really needed manipulatives for ages 6-8 or so. Now we use blocks to teach the lesson but he does not need to use them to do the lesson.

He really didn't seem to have the addition/subtraction math facts memorized until last year (beta). I used the MUS drill program that is online as a way to help him work on the memory. Really I think what really worked for him was time. He gradually weaned himself off needing the blocks.

HTH
Wendy B.
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momtogc
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by momtogc » Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:04 pm

carissa wrote:So, my plan is to set aside the book for now, make him some worksheets, do math games focusing on the addition facts and advancing as he's reached mastery, and make sure drill is a part of our math time daily. I'm strongly considering switching over to Singapore to have a fresh start in math and get rid of the "I hate math" feeling. I'd welcome your teaching ideas, your perspective about kids who get "stuck" here and there, and input about switching. He's not going to be stuck here forever, right? :)
The same thing happened with my dd in second grade. She hit a brick wall with understanding math concepts (using Singapore). We tried a few different approaches and nothing worked. Not to discourage you but that was our experience. What I did was stop formal math altogether for a while. She wasn't ready, couldn't grasp, "hated math" with two !! !!

The waiting until she was older and developmentally ready to learn math on the written page paid off. This year she's in fourth grade and zooming ahead because she understands now. She can grasp a new concept very quickly as opposed to a couple of years ago when she couldn't get any of it, and was frustrated and cried. She is more at ease with math. Not to say she has all the facts memorized concretely but she is making great strides and no longer cries over doing math.

I think you have the right idea, set the book aside and play games (Ruth Beechick, in her book An Easy Start In Arithmetic, says, "We cannot overemphasize the importance of games for growing children.") Monopoly Junior is one of our favorites. :-)

What we did when we weren't following a formal curriculum was to play games, learn about money, measuring, time, calendar, hands-on "real life" math. I pointed out numbers and their relationships in every day life as we encountered it. We counted by 2s, 5s, 10s, 100s, etc. I showed her place value when appropriate. It all worked together to make her understanding of numbers and math come together well and showed her how important math and numbers are in our day to day experiences.

FWIW, my dd also likes to read, learned to read quickly, is on a higher reading level than grade level. Sounds similar to your ds.

I know you will find what works best for your ds because you know him best. Pray about it and the Lord will guide you!
Meleasa
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carissa
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by carissa » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:35 pm

Wow, ladies, you and your words have been a balm to my worried-mama soul today! Your ideas and your encouragement have been so refreshing. :) Thanks for taking time out of your day to share your experiences and give me your advice. Sometimes it is SO helpful just to know that you're not alone, and whatever it is that's going on is relatively "normal." I don't know where I got the idea that he had to have 100% mastery of these math facts before we moved on!! I'm going to print out this thread, circle things, make notes, and pray about how to proceed. Whether we switch to Singapore or stay with MUS, you've given me great perspective, and I know my ds and I will both benefit from me not being so worried about why he's not memorizing these things right away. I'll give it another go at keeping 1st grade gentle and fun. :-)

I should probably mention that he's very melodramatic. Then I tickle him till he starts laughing, or we do some jumping jacks and sing a song, take a little break and have a snack, etc. then he's back on track again emotionally. Sometimes I think he could put a drama queen to shame, LOL. 8[]

Thanks again for each and every comment! What a blessing!

Warmly,
Carissa
Last edited by carissa on Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Carissa in Michigan
Wife to Steve for 21 years.
Mom to ds Brendan (10), ds Caden (8) and dd Sydney (8).
We've done MFW-K, ADV, public school for 2 years, and now considering ECC :)

cbollin

Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:02 pm

carissa wrote: I don't know where I got the idea that he had to have 100% mastery of these math facts before we moved on!!
Carissa
I know when I used MUS when my oldest was that young, I had the idea that MUS encouraged that 100% thing. I just rejected the advice. :) LOL
Wendy B. wrote:. Really I think what really worked for him was time. He gradually weaned himself off needing the blocks.
I think so too. :)
DS4home wrote: I think it's ok to keep using helps at this age. It seems like cheating to us, but at their age they need the repetition of helps in front of them to eventually create that memory of these facts.
I agree! except I definitely do not see it as cheating at all ;) wink wink

-crystal

TriciaMR
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by TriciaMR » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:27 pm

Fun thing we did... Use the math flash cards with a CandyLand game board... If you get the answer right, you get to either draw a color card and move that far or move the number of spaces of the answer. Also did similarly with Chutes & Ladders...

-Trish
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jasntas
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by jasntas » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:29 pm

My ds is in 4th and STILL doesn't know his basic math fact and it is driving me nuts. I think when he finishes the book he is currently on we are going to take a break and work just on memorizing those math facts. That will be sometime in March. We use Singapore.

I have some ideas for teaching them and have gleaned more from this thread. I think I'm going to look into the Calculadder books. And I really like the CD in the car idea. We have a few math facts CD's and played them quite a bit at the beginning of the year but I just can't seem to fit them in lately. We frequently listen to books on CD in the car when heading to P.E. or Tae Kwon Do, etc. but it didn't even cross my mind to use math CD's in the car. Duh!
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Julie in MN
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Re: 6.5 yo struggling with math facts

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:13 pm

carissa wrote:
Julie in MN wrote:I agree that you can just relax and move ahead with his age-appropriate lessons.
So what would age-appropriate lessons that would encourage him with numbers look like? I don't have the Complete Book of Math that MFW1 recommends. We had made a different plan for 1st grade (more classical) before deciding we really did love MFW. (Nothing like switching to make you appreciate what you had! We're looking forward to beginning Adventures in August.)
Carissa,
I see you've gotten some good conversation. I just didn't want you to think that I ignored your question to me.

To clarify, I think of math as having two main components -- the lessons in understanding math concepts and the memorization of math facts. I see those as very different things that are done separately at my house.

And after reading your thread here, I think the key to my confusing answer might have been that you are coming from the grammar-stage-is-all-about-memorization camp, and that's not the camp I come from. I've heard that theory and it sounds good, but I've pretty much decided I'm not in the camp of having kids memorize a lot of things before they understand them. If little ones are going to use their grammar-stage-memorization skills, I guess I like using that brain power for Bible verses and such.

My youngest actually did memorize -- he memorized words and taught himself to read that way, but it seemed to take me years to pair it with real understanding. In fact, to this day, he wants to memorize things and is good at memorizing things (vocab lists, math definitions), but I don't want him to memorize things, because there is absolutely no understanding paired with his memorization. He'll memorize that this word means this definition, without ever passing through the part of his brain that realizes what either one means. In 9th grade he still has to sing his memorized Bible books song in order to find something in the Bible, because his memorization didn't connect with the fact that, for example, the prophets are at the end of the OT. His ties to memorization are very strong and I think it's because he did too much of it at an early age (when he was public schooled and trying to keep up with his high school brother and I was clueless).

I did work hard to have him memorize math facts, which he did. But I wanted him to understand what 2+2 was doing before he memorized the sum. That's just the way I did it. I know there are other big proponents of early memorization.
carissa wrote:Thanks for chiming back in, Julie. Even though we're not following the classical model super closely in our mish-mash 1st grade year, I had the general idea that grammar-stage kids' minds were wired to memorize, mostly with joy and with ease. Now writing it out here, it sounds so silly, so simplistic, so pie-in-the-sky! That's one thing that's so great about having a forum like this. I've been immensely blessed by everyone's comments and ideas. Having a bunch of moms like you say, "Hey, it's okay for them to keep relying on manipulatives to help them solve the problems at this age! They'll get it with time." And, "My kids didn't commit the facts to memory right away either. Keep moving forward." And, "Most kids don't recite facts with tons of accuracy and speed until sometime in 2nd or 3rd grade." Soooo helpful! You ladies have helped me to see that my idea that math facts must be committed to memory 100% before moving on would produce a very boring and oppressive math program while I pushed my child toward an unrealistic goal for his age---priceless wisdom!!

I hope I don't come across as being from a particular camp, so to speak
No Carissa, you came across as being from the friendly question camp :) I was just afraid I was causing you more confusion instead of less. I do get confusing sometimes when I ramble on -- ask my kids :~
carissa wrote:--especially here, where we all value MFW's blend of Charlotte Mason/Classical/Learn to love and follow Jesus emphases [not necessarily in that order :) ].
I like that !? !!
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