# Children who struggle in Math

### #1

Posted 29 January 2009 - 10:37 AM

Can a child who struggles in math be given a good foundation to succeed or at least understand and pass high school math courses? Or are they doomed?

I am asking about children who:

were almost 6 before they could count to 20

did not understand the concept of addition without a lot of work, drill and application of stories and manipulatives

every concept in math was a challenge and you had to take a lot of time to teach, practice, drill, and review

Can we discuss what you did to give them a good foundation, how much you had to add, stay in one spot or what you did. If they got that good foundation, were they able to succeed at harder forms of math? How did fractions and decimals go? How about the struggling math child and algebra?

With a lot of work can you help a child who does not understand math learn to do it?

### #2

Posted 29 January 2009 - 11:03 AM

We did the first two years of MUS and started the third. I thought everything was wonderful until I found dd counting on her fingers to complete multiple digit math - you know where you have to add the numbers together for the second part of the algorithm to get the final answer.

That was the end of last year. It was very disheartening. I just scrapped math and started back at the beginning working with the facts until the end of the school year. At the beginning of this year I created a chart for facts, bought flash cards, a book of timed tests and was ready for the long haul of reteaching addition, subtraction and probably multiplication facts. But, only after two months she had remembered everything and then taught herself division. I bought MUS Delta at the end of November. We didn't really get a good start on it until after the first of the year due to the holidays and she has worked her way up to lesson 12 in three weeks.

I tell you all that because I wanted to illustrate that it can be done. Those facts will eventually sink in when you find the curriculum that works for your dc. It has been a long hard road for us, but now dd tells me that math is her favorite subject.

If you ever decide to go the MUS route, in would defiantly go to there website on Fridays and print off a review page for each section previously covered. Like when you start Beta which is subtraction on Fridays do a review of the addition facts. That will help prevent them getting lost. Then when you start Gamma review addition and subtraction on Fridays. So far in Delta, there seems to be enough of all the facts that I don't need to do reviews.

Good luck and have hope.

### #3

Posted 29 January 2009 - 11:23 AM

MUS has been a great program for us, to get my son *really* getting math, and it feels great to see him so excited over a subject he previously struggled so much in.

### #4

Posted 29 January 2009 - 11:31 AM

I also wish that I had kept him in Kumon math. With this ds maybe I wouldn't have wanted to be militant about Kumon. He could have taken summers and Decembers off and only completed worksheets 5 days each week.

He went to Kumon math when he was in middle school and stopped at the end of level D. When he tested into Kumon last spring, he tested right back into the end of level D. What he had learned through Kumon, he owned. He is now working in Kumon level I, so he is now into the Kumon high school math levels. The ongoing drill, consistently working on a topic until he understands it to the point of not even having to think about it, is a good thing. It is also good to know that there are a whole group of students around the world who are doing the same thing. He knows his mom isn't the only one having her child work on math.

Another thing I did- Last year when he hit Alg2, he started going to a tutor. He really liked Miss Debbie! He has spent this year with a wonderful man who teaches math at one of the local high schools. Kurt does ACT prep math and has spent the year covering Alg2, Trig, and any other advanced math topics that ds may not be familiar or comfortable with. The tutors have helped tremendously. By this I mean that the tutors have helped bring a calmness about math between my ds and myself. They are not emotionally vested in the outcome. They never become flustered with ds when they have to explain the same thing for the umpteenth time.

HTH-

Mandy

### #5

Posted 29 January 2009 - 11:39 AM

I don't think MUS is so much frowned upon, as it isn't understood because the sequence is so very different that what one sees in other curriculums. That and the high school sequence stops at pre-Calculus at 11th grade. I really think that is enough math unless the student is going into a science intensive field. At that point a different Calculus program can be use for the senior year.My son struggled so much with math. WHen he was on ps, at the end of grade 2 he could barely do basic addition (I am tallking like 2+2 types of questions). Even with the manips the teach used he just didn't get it. When I brought him home I bought so many math related games etc trying to cover those basic skills, and still nothing. Last year I decided to try MUS, even though he was in 4th grade I got him the beta book which covers addition and subtraction, and holy cow, did he ever do well, he started really understanding it. He is now in Gamma which is multiplication, and has gotten 100% on everytest but 1 so far this year. He does still use his fingers for some equations, and I have decided that is okay with me as long as he is understanding the concept. I know generally with MUS is it frowned upon but it that is what he needs it is what he will do, I have noticed that as we progress he does get more confidence and the fact sink in more and he counts less.

MUS has been a great program for us, to get my son *really* getting math, and it feels great to see him so excited over a subject he previously struggled so much in.

### #6

Posted 29 January 2009 - 11:59 AM

I don't think MUS is so much frowned upon, as it isn't understood because the sequence is so very different that what one sees in other curriculums. That and the high school sequence stops at pre-Calculus at 11th grade. I really think that is enough math unless the student is going into a science intensive field. At that point a different Calculus program can be use for the senior year.

Actually I was referring to the finger counting being frowned upon in MUS, counting fingers is considered to not show mastery.

### #7

Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:13 PM

I gave them some time off and then started with MUS. My oldest is a bit behind, but rapidly catching up. His understanding is awesome and he often figures out complicated problems without ever encountering formal learning. He will often comment on "math problems" that come up in every day life. He understands the concept and will do all the math in his head even though he hasn't had that formal teaching yet.

### #8

Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:27 PM

I have been using Singapore to introduce concepts, reviewing and drilling them with Rod and Staff and then going back to Singapore to cement or finish off mastery of the concept.

Basically, I have it worked out like this:

Singapore 1a--use the sections introducing subtraction, tell the Subtraction story from Serendipity blog.

Rod and Staff 1--do the pages on the subtraction families begining at -1 and ending with the pages on -10.

Singapore 1a--do the work in the text and workbook on subtraction methods.

I am doing it this way with most concepts so we do Singapore for a few days and then use Rod and Staff for a few weeks sometimes. It seems to be sticking but we really work with a concept until it sticks and she owns it before going on to the next thing.

Has anyone had children who had trouble with math have success with any thing other than MUS?

### #9

Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:34 PM

### #10

Posted 29 January 2009 - 01:02 PM

Not only can't I teach math, I can't read either.Actually I was referring to the finger counting being frowned upon in MUS, counting fingers is considered to not show mastery.

### #11

Posted 29 January 2009 - 01:09 PM

I know that I tried MCP math, Moving with Math and one other that I can't even remember the name of right now before I found MUS. None of them did anything but frustrate dd. I think all together I spent about $400.00 just on math during K4-2 looking for a fit.Has anyone had children who had trouble with math have success with any thing other than MUS?

After spending that much the $65.00 I spent on MUS seemed cheap. But that is another topic all together, isn't it.

I don't teach the math either. I figured I had tried so much that coming from someone else it might be better. So dd watched the dvd and got lessons straight from Mr. Demme. I know how well that approach works so for now I'm afraid to try anything else. And unless dd wants to be a rocket scientist I'm sticking with it all the way through.

### #12

Posted 29 January 2009 - 05:48 PM

My oldest is dyslexic. He used MUS Geometry and Alg2. I wish I had put him in MUS when I began homeschooling him.

I also wish that I had kept him in Kumon math. With this ds maybe I wouldn't have wanted to be militant about Kumon. He could have taken summers and Decembers off and only completed worksheets 5 days each week.

HTH-

Mandy

Is there a place on line where I can find Kumon? Is there an online testing for this?

### #13

Posted 29 January 2009 - 07:17 PM

...are they doomed?...[or] With a lot of work can you help a child who does not understand math learn to do it?

Be encouraged, Christy! A student who is a "late bloomer" in math is not doomed! And, yes, it *does* require more work on the part of the parent -- either finding the materials OR the tutors OR the therapies that help -- but I do believe your student will "get" the math! These students just will not arrive at the same time -- or along the same path -- as other students.

We have a math struggler (also a spelling/writing struggler who was a late reader -- but that's a different story). He is very visual-spatial learner (VSL) which means, especially when he was younger, did NOT get abstract math concepts, plus he is mildly dyslexic. Mostly, we found that it was time and patience, allowing his brain to mature into the math concepts, along with finding various methods that he connected with to be most helpful in those early years.

I would definitely encourage you -- if nothing else, for your own peace of mind! -- to look into some testing to rule out any vision problems, brain processing problems, or learning disabilities such as dyslexia or discalculia.

Dyscalculia website = http://www.dyscalculia.org/calc.html

Dyscalculia general overview = http://www.as.wvu.ed...dyscalcula.html

And if there are no extenuating issues, then you may either be looking at either just a delayed "math development timetable" or finding a program/materials that better connect with his learning style (how he intakes information) and brain dominance (how he processes that information).

Learning Styles = http://edselect.com/learn.htm

Visual Spatial Learners = http://www.gifteddev...Learner/vsl.htm

I encourage you, Christy, once you've researched potential problems, and then learning styles/brain dominance, to also be patient and gently persistent. As our son has gotten older, the difficulties with math have somewhat lessened (although doing algebra -- an extremely abstract math -- has been a rollercoaster ride this year!). Our son was "behind" in math by 2 grades up through 5th grade. In that year, not only did the math portions of his brain finally begin to mature so he was *able* to "get" math, but we also found Math-U-See, which connected with his learning style/brain dominance much better.

Can we discuss what you did to give them a good foundation, how much you had to add, stay in one spot or what you did.

In those elementary years, what seemed to make most headway math-wise for him were:

- games that involved math

(see WTM thread: http://www.welltrain...ight=math games)

- math booklets with matching manipulatives

- Miquon (we could move onto a new topic easily when he started to "hit a wall with the current topic; the amount of problems on a page were very gentle and not overwhelming; visual/hands-on through use of cuisenaire rods helped make abstract math concepts visual)

When we would "hit a wall" with a particular math concept, we would set the "spine" math program aside, and do one of the above things, either to see the troublesome math concept from a completely different viewpoint -- or often go to a completely *different* math concept, and let the "troublesome" one "simmer" on the back burner of his mind for a week or a month. Often we would come back to it and it would no longer be a problem. Other times, we just had to accept he was not ready for that concept.

For example: We tried long division at the end of 3rd grade; beginning of 4th grade; 1/2 way through 4th; end of 4th -- all no dice, so each time, we set it aside. Finally at the start of 5th grade it clicked.

Math facts were extremely difficult for him to master. Frankly, he never really got his math facts down "pat" until along about grade 5-6. We gently, persistently kept at it, but kept moving on learning math concepts. What helped in learning math facts for our son:

- triangle flashcards (as learning *1* "math family" of 3 related numbers was the equivalent of learning *4* math facts [example: a triangle shaped flashcard with the numbers 3, 4, and 7 in the corners; depending which corner you cover you can drill 3+4= ?; 4=3=?; 7-3=?; 7-4= ?])

- skip counting tapes and the Schoolhouse Rock:Math video songs

- Times Tales or other visual story means to make a visual/story connection between numbers, especially the facts he finds most troublesome. Even making up your own little "story" or jingle such as: "Seven times Six trombones led the Forty-Two parade!"

He also used his fingers for adding and skip counting up until grade 5/6 -- but frankly, it was a lot like using an abacus for him, so I never discouraged that practice, and eventually, he stopped on his own. (The poor guy struggled so much "getting" math, I was not going to take a way a tool that helped him just as he started turning the corner!).

We never had any trouble with fractions and decimals -- we were using Math-U-See by that time, plus he was a little older before we even got to those topics, so his brain seemed to handle those without too much trouble. Also, we'd done a lot with pattern blocks, fraction bars/circles, cuisenaire rods to explain simple fractions in those early grades (with booklets like "Math Discoveries with Pattern Blocks"), so he seemed at ease with those concepts.

You asked what we did; here's a run-down of math up through middle school; as you can see, as his brain matured, he "caught up" in the math:

**grade 1**

- The Complete Book of Math (some parts worked, others didn't)

- Miquon (mostly connected for him)

**grade 2**

- Miquon

- some manipulatives and matching booklets

- math games

**grade 3**

- Singapore Math (totally frustrated him -- moved too fast and was too abstract; dropped it after half a year)

- Miquon

- some manipulatives and matching booklets

- math games

**grade 4**

- Saxon 3 (thinking all the manipulatives would help; too many problems on a page and too many concepts on a page overwhelmed him

- some manipulatives and matching booklets

- math games

**grade 5**

- MUS old Intermediate (gr. 4,5,6 concepts) -- a great match, plus the variety of concepts was a plus

**grade 6**

- MUS Delta (review/skimmed whole book in 9 weeks)

- MUS Epsilon (review/skimmed whole book in 18 weeks)

- MUS Zeta (first 10 lessons)

**grade 7**

- 24 weeks = MUS Zeta -- whole program

- 12 weeks = Singapore 4A, 4B, 5A -- skim/review of selected problems

**grade 8**

- 28 weeks = MUS Pre-Algebra -- whole program

- 8 weeks = Singapore 5B, 6A, 6B -- skim/review of selected problems

- throughout the year: portions of Keys to Decimals and Keys to Percents workbooks for review

How about the struggling math child and algebra?

We're using Jacobs Algebra as a spine, and MUS as supplement, as the MUS did not seem to provide enough instruction at times, and does not cover all of the topics covered in the Jacobs. He has done okay at times with the Jacobs, but when he really hit the wall with graphing functions, we finally skipped that section and have moved onto into other math topics; we'll come back to the graphing functions at the end of the year and complete it then -- possibly with a math tutor. We expect to take Algebra very slowly -- do it over 1-1/2 years.

That's just our experience; you may find that one of the many video math programs may fit your need -- or a math class outside the home, or a math tutor may be the way to go. There are some students who are only at a 3rd-5th grade math level when they reach high school -- then your priority is to get those students solid with the real life math they will need for everyday life, rather than worrying about Algebra. If that is the case, you will have had testing and documentation to show LDs for when it comes time for standardized testing, too.

Hope something here is of help! Warmest regards, Lori D.

**Edited by Lori D., 29 January 2009 - 07:28 PM.**

fixed typos

### #14

Posted 29 January 2009 - 08:54 PM

Is there a place on line where I can find Kumon? Is there an online testing for this?

http://www.kumon.com...sp?language=USA

They do placement tests at the center. Expect your child to test in below grade level. Kumon begins the child where he already has mastery.

http://www.kumon.com...sp?language=USA

Here are samples.

Apart from the center Kumon now has workbooks though 6th grade.

http://www.kumonbook...radeschool.aspx

HTH-

Mandy

### #15

Posted 29 January 2009 - 09:06 PM

Apart from the center Kumon now has workbooks though 6th grade.

http://www.kumonbook...radeschool.aspx

And I just realized that in addition to the skills books Kumon has a Geometry/Measurement series and a word problem series coming out this summer.

Mandy

### #16

Posted 29 January 2009 - 09:16 PM

### #17

Posted 29 January 2009 - 10:10 PM

www.mathnasium.com

### #18

Posted 29 January 2009 - 10:13 PM

Has anyone had children who had trouble with math have success with any thing other than MUS?

my11th gr dtr has struggled w/ math since gr K, incl being close to 6yo when she mastered counting to 25 lol - something my 2 boys mastered about the time they were 4 (of course dd was oldest and 2 sons are last born. )But..one thing we found works very well is the one-on-one tutoring virtually every day. We used Saxon which worked well and about 3rd gr I switched ot A Beka using all the tools and the Curriculum/Lessons Plan practically verbatim 3-4 days per week. IOW, skipping a day of "Mom Math Instruction" didn't sink her, but regulaly missing 2-3 days a week of Mom Math Tutoring did.

One thing is we drilled extremely hard on facts and were heavy into manipulatives (we used cusinaire rods) but allowed no fingers. If they needed fingers, we got the rods out. OTOH, we drilled heavily on all math facts and so manipulatives were not a crutch.

I would just say you can probably be successful with anything if you are consistent.

My dtr always "gets" math eventually and it is always a struggle. I think she works really hard at it and deserves a lot of credit for perseverance and hard work. But with a dedicated tutor (mom or dad), math may always be a struggle but your child will be able to press on and conquer each topic.

Lisaj, mom to 5

### #19

Posted 29 January 2009 - 10:29 PM

We started with MUS in K, it worked well at first, then became a struggle. She lost a lot of what she had learned over the summer, and it started out fine with the review, but then got too difficult. She needs a lot of repetition to get her math facts, and some of the ways that things were being taught in MUS just didn't click with her.

We switched to Singapore after the holidays, and also got a Flashmaster. We did just Flashmaster for a few weeks to get her math facts up to speed and take a break from book work. Then, we added Singapore 1A (a bit behind where she was in MUS, but I wanted her to get used to the new format and not be frustrated with math anymore.)

The Flashmaster has really helped. She writes letters well and fairly fast, but numbers are harder and slower for her to write, so half the battle with math facts was writing them. I had started having her dictate answers to me and write them, but it was still painful for both of us. The Flashmaster lets her do it on her own quickly, she can do 10 to 20 times as many math facts in any given amount of time with the Flashmaster vs. a worksheet. (Flashcards weren't working at all. Oral drill of the math facts helps a little.)

A few weeks ago we added Singapore, we're just doing Intensive Practice for now since it's mostly review so far, just learning their way of doing things and also some new types of challenging math problems and puzzle type problems. She loves the puzzle type problems and is good at them. She also is finding the different ways they explain things makes more sense to her. We do 2 minutes of Flashmaster drill twice a week to keep the higher level math facts she had learned in MUS but are not yet reviewing in Singapore in her memory. Just as of last week, she commented about using the Flashmaster, "This is really easy now!" She hardly misses any facts anymore, she used to miss a lot. (We're just on addition facts, up to 20.)

Tuesday, she did a word problem that involved adding 3 numbers. She figured out the answer quicker than me! (And, I'm a very fast reader. I have no idea how she read it and figured it out before I did.) I asked her, she just smiled and said "I'm good at math!"

### #20

Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:12 PM

http://www.kumon.com...sp?language=USA

They do placement tests at the center. Expect your child to test in below grade level. Kumon begins the child where he already has mastery.

http://www.kumon.com...sp?language=USA

Here are samples.

Apart from the center Kumon now has workbooks though 6th grade.

http://www.kumonbook...radeschool.aspx

HTH-

Mandy

Thanks Mandy for the information.

### #21

Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:19 PM

I am 9 years old and I have hijacked my mom's account but I think your child can succeed.

I like your style young-one!

Mr Cartwright

### #22

Posted 31 January 2009 - 10:06 PM

**page 369**"A ten-year old is perfectly capable of jumping right into a sixth grade math textbook, such as Saxon 65, with no previous experience with math workbooks or textbooks. Skipping Kindergarten through fifth grade in math will in no way hinder your child's success in math. You do not need to wear out your child's interest and your own patience attempting to make him understand what his brain is not yeat wired to handle. Waiting until age ten, when your child is developmentally prepared to handle mathematical concepts readily, makes instruction in arithmetic very easy. What was painfully spread over five previous years, may here be compressed painlessly into as little time as a month. We are not saying that you should keep your child away from numbers before age 10. Not at all."

This is the approach my husband and I are using with our 2 third graders, and so far we are happy with the advice we gleaned from them. We are

**not**unschooling in the area of math, just waiting for their minds to make the change from thinking in the concrete to thinking in the abstract. This happens at different ages for different children. But many studies have shown that it is very difficult to think in the abstract before age 10. Remember potty training? When they are ready it just clicks and life is much more pleasant than pulling out your hair and getting frustrated. It also gives us more time in the school day to concentrate on grammar, reading and science, etc.