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Cake and Pi

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About Cake and Pi

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  1. Add me to the "there is no usual" camp. All three of my ALs have had comprehension scores 2-4+ years higher than decoding level (biggest gap for my dyslexic AL). I get these scores and am like, "HOW can they comprehend it without decoding it!?" And the psych just says they unconsciously fill in the gaps for words they can't actually read.
  2. It probably depends on the particular kid and what level of mastery you are expecting them to achieve. Keep in mind that the Beast Academy practice books DO contain teaching in the form of short examples at the tops of most pages, so for a kid who grasps concepts easily, it is completely possible to get by without the guides. They are essentially self-teaching with mini-lessons dispersed throughout their problem sets. AoPS Prealgebra is pretty straightforward, and almost all the concepts have been covered at least informally/conceptually through Beast Academy. I would bet that such a kid could get through Alcumus Prealgebra on the normal setting without reading the textbook, especially if they carefully read the solutions to problems that they miss and utilize the free online videos. That said, I don't believe Alcumus alone is enough for the vast majority of kids to master the content to AoPS-level standards. I would insist on the child doing at least the challenge problems from the end of each chapter in the book in addition to Alcumus. My DS 7 did all but the last two Alcumus topics for Intro to Number Theory before beginning the online class, but he still has to work so solve at least a couple of the assigned online challenge problems each week. I also suspect that, except in extremely rare cases, most kids who can at first get through Alcumus without prefacing their studies with instruction of some sort will eventually hit a point where they won't be able to intuitively work out solutions in a timely fashion. Like, my DS 7 is a smart kid. Math is his passion. But the process for tackling systems of linear congruences was not happening intuitively. He read the crap out of that chapter in the book, lol. Also the binomial theorem. He loved it and loved seeing the connection with Pascal's Triangle in the textbook, but I think it highly unlikely that he would have made that connection on his own without any guidance... except perhaps by complete chance if he were working on a binomial expansion and happened to have Pascal's triangle fresh in his mind or laying around nearby, lol. Instruction (from the book) was necessary for him to comfortably and quickly solve the Alcumus problems using the binomial theorem.
  3. I loved reading this thread. There are so many interesting opinions and some excellent ideas. We've got ASD, anxiety, and ADHD in the mix, but the things your boys do sound a lot like what we see over here with my 7.5yo, newly-turned 10yo, and 11.5yo. I caught my 10yo cheating just this morning, in fact. He is in public school and does math as an independent study because he's accelerated, but he doesn't actually seem capable of self-studying for more than 15 minutes in a stretch. He hasn't been getting his work done at school and always seems to end up doing it sitting next to me in the evening. This week I didn't get a chance to do that for several days and I told him he had to have his work done today before he went to a friend's birthday party. His solution? He had his younger brother tell him the answers to all his math questions early this morning. It was impressive teamwork and probably 7yo DS was trying to be kind, but I was so MAD at my 10yo! Thinking about it objectively now that I've cooled off, he was probably really stressed and just trying to make it to his friend's party, so in a way, my own choices brought out the worst in him, and I really could have predicted his response. A few months ago I started having my bigger boys pay for their own school supplies. (They can earn money doing extra chores around the house/yard and get $20 every time they get a dental check-up with no cavities.) It worked! Well, sort of. They take better care of their stuff. There is still some collateral damage, and one kid just cannot resist taking apart his pens to use the parts in non-standard ways, but it's going better than before. I also made a snack cabinet full of healthy snacks they are allowed to access any time. That has helped with the one that used to sneak food. Anyway, you're not alone. Kids do these things. More supervision, altered expectations, and more self-care for you seem like things that may help your situation.
  4. I've always required blue. Just this semester I started letting my oldest (11, 6th grade) choose to stop at green because he dislikes Alcumus in general, and I figure he's old enough to have more say in his level effort and resulting grades. They both do the online classes now but we had a while there when DS#1 worked from the pre-a book before switching. I'll also add that switching to the online classes was a good move for my ADHD, dysgraphic, ASD DS#1. The writing problems force him to organize his thoughts enough to explain his work for ONE problem each week, and he's okay with that because it's all typed. Online classes have also helped with time management because the the accountability.
  5. Sometimes DS#3 reads to himself and we check in every chapter or so, but we've mostly done buddy reading, taking turns reading aloud. We've also done some immersion reading, following along in the book while listening to the audio book. I haven't really consulted the parent guides so far, but we've only done the level 1 and 2 trilogies. We just talk about things as we go. I like the MCT versions because they pull out the more challenging vocab words with simple definitions at the bottoms of the pages. The Mud Trilogy was a major hit. My DS#3 has read it at least 4-5 times all the way through. We are just wrapping up the Alice, Peter, and Mole trilogy done through the summer class at RFWP Online. DS#3 liked Alice in Wonderland, *loved* Peter Pan (and read it 3x), and has been kind of meh about Wind in the Willows. Looking ahead to the next trilogy has me thinking we might wait an extra year to start it. A couple of the book selections seem kind of intense for his age.
  6. I don't see any reason for reading and writing to limit a child's math at this level. I think it's fine to offer support where it's needed and/or wanted. Two of my boys preferred that I read the guides aloud to them, even though they were able to read just fine. Another of my boys liked to read the guides to himself, but then still wanted me to read everything aloud with fun character voices after. My DS#1 with dysgraphia did little to no writing until the 5th grade books. He did it all in his head and would write some answers and dictate others while I scribed for him.
  7. I agree with the notion that there isn't much in the way of feedback or accountability. My DS#1 did LL 7 & 8 last year and it took me about the first semester to catch on to the fact that he was basically skipping the forum assignments but was still getting them checked off because he'd responded in some way. (He'd write an incomplete sentence with no capitalization or punctuation and atrocious spelling that may or may not in any way relate back to the assignment, which was usually along the lines of a paragraph about a specific topic, but I only knew because I logged on as him and went hunting for his comments in the forums.) But the classes were fun, gave his lit studies much needed structure, and got him involved in literature that he wouldn't have chosen to read on his own. I did see growth in how he approached the live sessions and assignments over the course of the year. If I were to do the Online G3 LL classes with DS#3 at some point in the future, I would probably buy the student workbooks and teacher manuals so I could quiz him on comprehension (read: verify that he actually read what was assigned) and give him something more concrete to work through, add a little accountability from my end. As far as other options for online literature classes, I don't know of much, but I haven't really looked either. My DS#3 is doing a 12 week literature class through RFWP online this summer. The live sessions are good and keep him engaged. The kids respond to questions that MCT asks in class and they do have some good discussions, but probably 85-90% of the class is still listening to MCT talk. There is a *lot* of accountability in the written assignments. MCT has specific praises and suggestions for improvement for every single written assignment and will return a paper with instructions to fix certain academic writing faux pas before he will even grade it. However, there's only one assignment per week. That works well for us. I'd rather have DS#3 focus on one assignment and really go deep and give it his best than for him to rush through a long to-do list. The only drawback is that the lit-only classes seem to run only in the summertime.
  8. So did your kid(s) go all the way through AoPS and then to this? What, if anything, did they use between AoPS and this provider? And if you happen to know, how do the various calculus courses and prerequisites listed relate back to traditional college calc I, II, and III? I though calc III was multivariate...? But then what is calc C?
  9. He sounds very similar to my DS#1 (also 2e: ASD, ADHD, dysgraphia, mood disorder then/ "just" anxiety now, but no dyslexia), who did BA 3 and 4 in one year, then hit a wall in BA 5. BA 5 appeared to be *much* harder than the earlier levels to me at the time, but then there was no such wall when DS#3 got to the same point, so now I think it's only the normal amount of harder that you'd expect going up a year in grade level. I believe DS#1 had such difficulty because of those other "e"s, particularly the mood issues and dysgraphia. He also wrote nothing down but answers for BA 3 and 4. He got stuck for about 2 weeks on one 4-5ish-question page in 5A where he finally started writing down *some* work, but not in an organized, logical way or showing even half of his steps. Even now, his work looks like chicken scratch, is all over the page, work from one problem melds with the work from another, etc. He spent a little more than a year on BA 5 and then hit another wall in AoPS Prealgebra, which covers most of the same topics as BA5, but in a more mathematically generalized, less kid-friendly way. We ended up stepping away from AoPS PreA for many months to give him a frustration break. Altogether he spent 2.5 years on the shared concepts of BA5 and AoPS PreA. I'd like to say that things are all better now, but honestly, he still struggles more than he ought to because of his impulsiveness in answering, his poor written work (though it is quite beautiful typed out in LaTeX!), and his inattention to details. He's moving at a "normal" rate now and will probably cover Intro to Counting and Probability and the second half of Intro to Algebra this coming year as a 6th grader, which perhaps isn't what you'd expect from a kid who loves math as much as he does and who was so advanced when he was little.
  10. I've got a few thoughts. You could get a quickie reading comprehension program that he could complete independently, like Critical Thinking Co.'s Reading Detective, or Evan-Moor's Daily Reading Comprehension, and then just back off of assigned reading. Let him read whatever he wants. You might have to incentivize the assignment, but I don't have qualms about things like that. (FTR, my kids often get a chocolate chip, earn 5 minutes of screen time, or some other small treat for completing short, undesired tasks like handwriting.) You could let him pick from the book lists in Suppose the Wolf Were an Octopus and ask him the corresponding comprehension questions (right there in Suppose the Wolf Were an Octopus). You could sign him up for an Athena's book club type class. Think Books, I believe it is called. I'd only do this if you can get him excited about it, but moving the assignment online, where he can interact with other kids and you are not the instructor may be the motivation he needs. Might be worth looking into. Or check your local library for an in-person book club. You could split the boys up for read aloud time. It becomes special when it's a one-on-one thing with mom and there's no sibling rivalry over who can see the pages, who gets to sit on mom's lap, who gets to pick the story, etc. The needs of a 1yo and an advanced 7yo are so very different. Reading the same book to both will probably serve neither well. Since your DS 7 seems to need to feel like he has some control, you could collaborate with him about exactly when he wants to have his special time with you, then stick to it. Make sure he sees that his needs are being prioritized and the siblings have to wait during this time. Add some cuddles, tea, treats, or whatever else would sweeten the deal and make it a rewarding experience for him. You could put on audio books for any literature you'd really like him exposed to but he might balk at reading himself. We listen to *so* many audio books in the car. If you provide him with a hard or ebook copy, he can choose to read along if he so desires. I pause the audio book to point out vocabulary, ask questions, probe for predictions/causes/etc. I don't worry about narrations written or otherwise of our car audio books, but they still get quite a bit out of them. On the line of audio books, you could even let him pick out whatever he wants to listen to on his own, especially if your library has Playaways or something similar (preloaded audo book player that only plays the one book. You just add batteries and a headphones). You could set aside 20 minutes (or however long works for your family) as "quiet time" or whatever you want to call it where everyone sits and reads/looks at books/draws/writes quietly in their own space, and just make sure quality literature is available. At 7yo I had nothing in the way of required reading for DS#1. DS#3 is 7 now and enjoying an online lit class through RFWP, but I think a lot of that has to do with his excitement to be working directly with MCT. He usually only reads math books and Minecraft how-tos. I don't push because he reads along with our car audio books and so is exposed to plenty of diverse quality literature. I personally wouldn't worry about making a 7yo finish a book if he's not into it at this age. I don't ban twadle, either. I just have a requirement about variety in library check outs - no more than 2 books from any particular series/set, no more than two graphic novels, at least one fiction and one nonfiction, at least one that would be considered at their reading level, that kind of thing. They end up with some crap books, but they blow through them quickly and then eventually move on to the others. I want my kids to enjoy reading. Not everything they read needs to be at their level, high quality, or of educational value. A love of reading is my goal, even if that includes a little "book candy," lol. FTR, my very oppositional kid (ADHD, ODD, and anxiety officially) requires a lot of say in his day. He needs a ton of structure, but wants to be the one in charge of that structure. He responds well to a reward system and cannot be *made* to do anything. If I said "You have to read now. Would you like to read X or Y?" he'd just get surly and refuse to read. He can dig in his heels like no one else I know and only gets more oppositional and defiant the harder authority pushes back. Negative consequences, natural or not, do not work with him. We're finding that most of his undesirable behaviors boil down to anxiety and feelings of helplessness. He feels out of control, and so insists on control whenever and wherever he can. You might also want to read Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults by James Webb, if you haven't already.
  11. According to the DSM-5, the diagnostic difference between ASD and Social Communication Disorder is basically just the presence or absence of restricted/repetitive behavior/interests. SCD is like ASD-light. My DS 7 was originally diagnosed with SCD, but that psychologist didn't actually rule out ASD with any kind of diagnostic tool. She thought he didn't "seem autistic." Things got harder as he got older, not easier, and his therapists kept recommending him for therapies that our insurance wouldn't cover with a SCD diagnosis, so I took him for a second opinion from a multidisciplinary team, which determined that we are in fact dealing with autism, not SCD. And as it turns out, SCD isn't supposed to be diagnosed unless ASD is conclusively ruled out, so the SCD was a hardcore misdiagnosis. When they evaluated your DS, did they use the ADOS? That's the gold standard for diagnosing or ruling out ASD. Many will supplement with the ADI-R. HERE'S a good explanation of SCD. THIS page lists the current diagnostic criteria for ASD and SCD. And for reference, HERE is the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-4 for Asperger's. To me it actually seems more restrictive than the current criteria for ASD (basically the DSM-5 ASD criteria + no significant language delay + no cognitive delay + no delay in adaptive behavior).
  12. My 11yo and 7yo were both diagnosed with ASD near the beginning of this year (extremely long story). The doctors told me that Asperger's is just wrapped into ASD now, so if someone would have qualified for an Asperger's diagnosis 10 years ago, they would be diagnosed with ASD now. FWIW, my 9yo with behavior similar to the OP's kid, super argumentative, picks apart everything anyone says, finds every flaw and every loophole in another's explanation or argument, pushes every button he can -- that kid does not have ASD. He is HG+ with ADHD, ODD, SPD, and anxiety. He will take things too literally, and sometimes it's a real misunderstanding, but more often he's trying to get a reaction, unlike my ASD kids, who sometimes understand but more often miss the point. They are legit confused or even upset by the hidden meaning in those non-literal phrases they miss, and when they "get it" they tend to be proud of themselves for catching on. They may even point it out like, "You're being sarcastic right now," or "You mean _______." My non-ASD 9yo is also masterfully manipulative, whereas my ASD 11yo and 7yo may *try* to manipulate, but have too hard of a time reading other people to actually pull it off the vast majority of the time. Their efforts are very obvious. My 9yo *is* socially immature. He was even recommended to join in a social skills group, but that's part of his ADHD. His social impairments are different from my 7yo's, who has social skills scores an entire eight standard deviations below his cognitive abilities. Gifted traits, especially with higher levels of gifted, have a lot of overlap with autism traits. Things that in the general population are not "normal," like extreme interest in unusual topics, may be "normal" for the gifted population. The sensory issues stereotypical of kids with ASD are basically indistinguishable from SPD/sensory over excitability in the gifted. Webb's Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults was a good read. And there is supposedly a genetic link between autism and high intelligence and propensities for certain professions. Children with ASD often have many family members with similar traits, just not quite to the extent or across enough diagnostic categories to warrant an ASD label. Autism often runs in families with more engineers, mathematicians, and scientists than in the population at large, as do autistic-like traits. It's all very interesting.
  13. My 7yo and 11yo are working in the Town and Voyage levels, respectively. They will both finish everything but the writing book for their levels in the next few months, but both need a little more time before tackling the writing books for their respective levels. Running two levels at once hasn't been a problem at all. I spend about 15 minutes per kid per day reading and discussing whatever book they're in and then another 1-3 minutes per kid on some days going over the sentence analyses they did independently. We work through the books, excluding the practice books, one at a time, and do anywhere from 1 to 4 sentence analyses per week (after finishing the grammar books). Once every week or two we spend the entire 15 minute time slot on a cumulative review of vocab.
  14. For some kids doing both BA 5 and AoPS PreA will be too redundant, but for others it is necessary. I guess it depends on the kid and interest, drive, and level of math maturity (handwriting, ease at showing/explaining work, how readily they transition to a more text-booky presentation, those kinds of things). My DS#1 also finished BA 5 at 9yo, and he benefited greatly from completing AoPS PreA. He spent about a year and a half on a mix of AoPS PA, Jacob's MHE, and Picciotto's A:TTC. He wouldn't have enjoyed Intro to Algebra without that extra time to mature, practice foundational skills, and play with ideas, even though he is a child who, in general, despises repetition and busy work. It didn't feel like either of those things to him because the problems were new and different and went deeper to the extent that they still required him to think. He also needed time to work on emotional regulation, frustration tolerance, and written communication challenges. My DS#3, otoh, easily and comfortably jumped from BA 4 right to AoPS PreA at 6yo. Different kid, different personality and needs. Doing both BA 5 and AoPS PreA in succession would have been overkill. The thing to note here is that *he* was driving the bus. He asked for an Alcumus account and took off. You can let him try out a class and drop it within 14 days if it's not a good fit. The message boards are helpful for puzzling out problems they get stuck on in a collaborative way, and they have "office hours" where AoPS staff step to help guide students on the message boards for the classes. The live PreA classes + homework are less of a time commitment and slower pace than Algebra A. They also give the kid a chance to learn a good deal of LaTeX (for writing proof solutions), which could theoretically make the Algebra A class easier. My DS#3 could solve pretty much all of the PreA 2 writing problems in his head, but actually explaining his solutions was new and challenging for him. It was much less frustrating for him to be able to have the math down and just focus on the writing. Did you have your DS take the "Do you need this?" assessment for PreA 2 also? ETA: PreA went slow enough that DS#3 was able to actually go back and complete BA 5 (just the starred problems and high-interest puzzles) in between PreA assignments. So I guess he *did* do both, but they were done concurrently, not one after the other, and he skipped all the easy problems.
  15. SC, I skimmed through, but I didn't read all the posts particularly carefully. Sorry if I'm repeating things. In your shoes, I'd want a full neurospych eval, done privately and with someone versed in the highly gifted and 2e. Maybe it's just ADHD, perhaps he'll even outgrow it as his brain ages and matures, but those scores seem super fishy to me. NVLD jumped out as something I'd want to rule out. Also, did the school give you the breakdown on the WJ scores? Like, that broad math score, it seems way out of line with his performance. But... maybe it's not? One of my kids had a similar broad math score, but that was a combination of much higher and much lower sub scores. Just saying that there can be more to interpret out of those tests when you have the complete picture. Also, extra time for tests may not be exactly what you want. As Russell Barkley so entertainingly explains...
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