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Please help with math for rising 5th grader??

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I am so frustrated after an entire year of my son struggling with his math. He's never been an 'easy' student and has been tested in Kindergarten for a learning disability. I never followed up with the hundreds of dollars worth of recommended tests, but I was told there was a strong indication that he had a learning disability that leaned toward dyslexia. Over the years, friends that have knowledge of this learning disability have told me they thought my son had it too. (through observing him in 'class' settings w/co-ops and things) So, knowing this, I work extra hard with him on all of his subjects, but this year is just a killer. I've put so much time and energy into his education, and I'm just not seeing the fruits of my labor! I feel like I'm behind with my 2nd grader and Kindergartener b/c I'm always holding my 4th graders hand. I'm very discouraged today after a fourth math test that resulted in a F! About half the incorrect problems were truly wrong b/c he didn't know the answer, but the other half were foolish mistakes where he wasn't paying attn. His attn is a HUGE problem too. It's just like moving mountains to get him thru his work. I'm just honestly EXHAUSTED!


So, my real problem is that I'm trying to figure what needs to be done. Should I lower my expectations and work level for him? He's been doing Saxon 5/4 this year, and it's been a challenge ALL year. Not one bit has been easy for him. It's required indepth thought (which means his focus has to be HIGH, and it never is) and lot's of word problems. Is there a better Math out there? I don't want him behind, but at this point, I'm considering making him do 5/4 AGAIN. I know in my heart he can do the work. He just won't apply himself. I don't know how to make that happen. I'm not that way. I have always done above and beyond what was expected. He's a bare minimum kinda kid.


Any thoughts on a better math curriculum? Maybe something for kids with learning disabilities? He's really smart and has the potential so I want to be very careful not to make this too easy for him, but I also can't continue to push him forward when he is averaging "c" or "d" work. Even if it's all silly mistakes and I know that he knows what he did wrong, math is exact. He has to learn to be precise in his work.


Any thoughts, ideas, choices???



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I can't really help except to say that my oldest son was diagnosed with a slight LD as well and Saxon math was HORRIBLE for him! HORRIBLE! I wasted several years trying to get him to learn math with Saxon because I was told by other homeschooler's that it was "the best!" HA! Don't buy into that malarkey. It is not the best for YOUR son if he is struggling daily. Ditch it. :glare:


I think you should look into a mastery program. If I had known of it when my oldest was in 5th I would have seriously considered Math U See. I think it would have been perfect for him. I also think BJU is good. BJU teaches concepts by chapter instead of incremental tidbits like Saxon. Both MUS and BJU use manipulatives to reinforce learning. Your son may need that. I also like Making Math Meaningful, though I don't know what the older levels look like as I have used only the 2nd grade text. Teaching Textbooks may be a good choice too. I don't know how it is set up, whether mastery, spiral, or incremental, but your son may do well with the interactive computer aspect of it. You can download a sample of it online to get a good feel.


Sorry I can't be more help. I known what you are going through though. My oldest still has difficulties in his college algebra classes. Math may always be hard for your ds...try not to get too discouraged. My son is doing very well in college, despite his math difficulties. ;)

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Have you ever looked through Cathy Duffy's books and determined your ds's learning style? She also indicates which math programs are better/worse for each learning style.


I am not a big Saxon fan. I would think that if there are attention problems, Saxon would not be helpful because it does a lot of skipping around.


We have used MUS from K through Algebra. I like it's hands-on approach and logical sequence. Each book focuses on a certain topic, which I think helps to focus the child. However, I know less than nothing about LDs. Here is a link about MUS Special Ed.


You may read my detailed review of MUS in this thread.


Good luck!

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Melissa, your words were very comforting. It's especially helpful/hopeful to hear another mom that has been in my shoes. :) I've worked so hard and feel like I'm failing. That is my biggest concern for him. I believe you are right- I need to ditch Saxon. I thought this all year, but I was reluctant b/c everyone seemed to think that Saxon was "the" best program to prepare for college. I have not been impressed at all. It's been difficult all year for him, but I just hadn't been able to figure out 'what' it was that wasn't working. I've talked to several friends and just still was frustrated. But, after reading your post and realizing he most definately needs a mastery program (which is what I've been thinking all year but wouldn't let myself accept b/c I thought it might be too easy for him).What makes more sense when a child has a LD? :glare: I guess I just never thought about it like that!


Thank you for the info. I will be doing some more research tonight!

Edited by 3browneyedboys4me
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I know in my heart he can do the work. He just won't apply himself.


This is how I felt with my ds too. I would get sooo angry at him thinking he was being lazy. It wasn't until I had him tested, and the lady talked with me about it, that I realized it wasn't that he was being lazy. This apparent 'lazy-ness' was that due to his LD, his brain would sort of shut down. Anything over-complex would send his brain into tailspin shut-down mode which would effect focus, attention to detail, etc. What appears simple to us, is very overwhelming to them. My son STILL suffers with this, so it's not something that has gone away completely, but he has learned how to work around it. He still struggles with complex math, and multi-step word problems, and he will probably never make it to Trig let along Calculus, but that's OK. His career choice, thankfully, does not include either of those. ;)


Just as a warning. Even though my son's LD is considered slight, it took him two full years to get through a complete High School Algebra 1 curriculum. And he still doesn't truly know Algebra. He is struggling like crazy to get through college level Algebra right now. It makes zero sense to him. Poor kid. It's really humiliating when his younger brother is a math whiz. He's great in other areas of study though.


Anyhow, forewarned is forearmed right? ;) Focus on his strengths...he needs to feel he is good at something. Not every kid is cut out for the higher level maths, there are plenty of career choices that pay well, and don't require anything above college level Algebra. :D I would take it slow and steady so he can feel he's having some sucess in math, even if not at grade level. I think a mastery program will help greatly.


May the Lord lead you to what is perfect for your son. :001_smile:



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I feel like I'm banging my head up against a wall...saying the same thing over and over. All the while, he's giving me the same look that he gives me daily. So, I know that the speech is no more effective than the math- lol!


I feel so much better. I know that I just have to make the necessary adjustments. And, I CAN do that! So, there is always hope! I told him today that I would be looking at new math curriculum and he said, "thank you so much!" So, it's a relief for us both!


I so appreciate your help and kind words. It's hard when your oldest has the LD. I feel bad for him, and I wonder how he will feel when his younger brother gets a bit older and is doing more difficult math. They all have their gifts and he leans more toward History. So, we'll see. :001_smile:


Thanks again! Have a blessed evening!

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Another option - ACE PACES. I realize that many people think that this curriculum is inferior, but the visual layout and uncluttered pages have been GREAT for my probably dyslexic 11yo. (He hasn't been tested yet due to finances, but he has all the symptoms and problems so I treat him like he does.)


They have a placement test that will tell you exactly what he needs and it builds on itself. We tried Singapore, then MCP, then Saxon, then Rod and Staff before settling on ACE PACES. Math rarely ends in tears anymore and he is making good progress.

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Any thoughts on these two curriculums -if you've used either of them?


I've used both with my youngest who has no LDs that I am aware of. We used MMM Level 2 and MUS Gamma.


MMM I purchased to use as a supplement for my son's A Beka Math in 2nd grade. I loved the word problems and just the different way MMM approached the concepts. It made my son think through what he was doing.


MUS Gamma, I purchased for my son's 3rd grade math because I felt like Abeka was ZOOMING through multiplication at an alarming rate. My son enjoyed MUS but didn't like to use the blocks. I wasn't too happy with it myself because it was so very different from Abeka, but I do remember thinking at the time that it would have been great for my oldest.


In 4th I moved on to BJU and both my son and I were content and have stayed put these last three years. This year I plan to use something different for 7th...not sure what yet...but then I will go back to BJU for pre-Algebra.


Have you thought about what level of MUS would be best for your ds? The only problem I have with MUS is it's very singular focus. It seems hard to know where to place a child who hasn't started in the Alpha level. :confused: Perhaps you could start a new thread and ask. There are many MUS users on this board.


I just looked at the MMM Level 5 sample and I loved it! My son was sitting next to me and he said, "Wow, that looks fun!" I couldn't agree more. I was almost tempted to buy it again! :lol: I love how it is student led, with the book walking the student through the concepts. The only thing I don't like is that it only goes to Level 6 before shooting into Algebra. Of course, my understanding is that the Algebra is pre-Algebra as well.


I think what I would do is get as many samples as I could and then let my son pick one. I would look at several:






CLE (not really mastery, but not quite as incremental as Saxon)

TT(mastery? I don't know)


I think of all of those MUS is the only one that is truly considered a mastery program, though I think R&S and BJU are pretty close. Not sure what MMM would be labeled.


Anyhow, I would let him pick his favorite. :D Then if he starts complaining about it next year you can remind him that HE picked it! :lol:

Edited by Melissa in CA
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always go back to it being so repetitive. I'm just so afraid he will be lacking in other areas. I'm thinking that the concept is great, but you must stick with it all the way through (meaning not change curriculums) or you could find yourself behind in certain areas. But, I don't know. I've not looked at it enough to really know that answer. I will keep plugging away. I like the idea of letting him decide-what a great idea! :)


I have to admit. I looked over MMM too and really liked level 5 too! It reallllly seemed to explain the concepts in great detail. I didn't see any concepts that appeared to be missing. It seemed very complete to me. I like that.


I've heard of the 'paces' program, but I know nothing of it. I will need to look over it to know. I actually had a young man that was in college that had been homeschooled tell me that he used that program and LOVED it. He mentioned that he felt quite prepared for college. So, that's good to know! :)


Thanks again! I'm learning so much!

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MUS seems like a great idea for someone with an LD, but I wonder if he will eventually get bored.


MUS is not an exciting program. The singular focus can get a bit boring. But, because MUS focuses on one concept each year, I see that as one of its strengths. I think it really helps the child to know multiplication (for example) until they know it forwards, backwards, sideways, and upside down. I think it helps to CEMENT it in the child's head. And, if your son needs to be stimulated with something new and different on a regular basis, this would not be the program for him.


Have you thought about what level of MUS would be best for your ds? The only problem I have with MUS is it's very singular focus. It seems hard to know where to place a child who hasn't started in the Alpha level. :confused: Perhaps you could start a new thread and ask. There are many MUS users on this board.


There is a placement test at the website.

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he's very smart and CAN do 'grade level' (whatever that really means) work. He CAN do Saxon, but he struggles with the 'details' of each problem b/c it's back and forth with one thing to the next. Not nearly enough repetition to feel like you've mastered any one concept until you've missed it enough times that it becomes a glaring issue. I'm also noticing that many of the problems that he's struggling w/ are the multi-step word problems. The problems that give lots of info and you have to sit there and decide what info is meaningful and how to apply it. There seem to be quite a bit of these types of problems in 5/4. He can do the basic concept problems- division, multiplication, converting fractions and decimals. He's actually quite good at it. But, boy, ask him to convert a M to a ML and then determine 1/8 of it (all with lots more words than I just used), and you've got him more than a little confused. It's the lengthy language that I 'think' is getting him confused. And, I have to admit, there's been more than one problem that's had me scratching my head too!

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My dd12 has dyslexia and we just switched from Saxon 54 to MUS Epsilon. It is definitely much better for her. Saxon was OK but she didn't like it. I like that she can do the worksheets right on the page (no copying), that it stays on one topic until she gets it, and that it gives her the manipulatives so she can see it. At the same time, we worked through Times Tables the Fun Way and she finally knows most of her multiplication facts (she always had to skip count before.)


I would be very wary of calling your son lazy. Learning with an LD is very challenging. And I would not be giving tests and grades to a fourth grader either! I don't do tests until high school.

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He CAN do Saxon, but he struggles with the 'details' of each problem b/c it's back and forth with one thing to the next. Not nearly enough repetition to feel like you've mastered any one concept until you've missed it enough times that it becomes a glaring issue.


Yeah, this was how I felt about my son too. He COULD do the work, so why wouldn't he? I was not understanding him at all, and because I felt he could do it, I kept pressing on with Saxon thinking that eventually he's going to "get it." It didn't happen.


What did work better for him was Abeka. We switched to Abeka video school with him in 8th grade. I cannot recall any glaring issues that he had with Abeka math...except that he was behind in knowledge after suffering through, and not grasping, Saxon. We dropped the Math part of Abeka though in 9th and tried to do Algebra with Saxon and DIVE. Yeah, I was that stupid. :blink: After trying various Algebra programs, from Saxon, to Jacobs, to gosh I forget how many we went through...we ended up with Math Relief Algebra and he was finally able to at least understand the instruction enough to pass the class. In 11th he did MUS Geometry (with no major problems), and in 12th a Consumer Math (BJU)


All that to say. If you're hesitant to jump into MUS, how about trying a more traditional chapter approach to math first. Something like Rod & Staff, BJU, or Abeka. The nice thing about Abeka is that it is a workbook...no transferring to paper...but I still think MMM is a viable choice as well. Many use and love MUS though and say their children to very well in college afterward. Maybe, if you have not already done so, you can ask on the high school board and see how many are using it successfully. I think I personally would want to find something I could stick with long haul. I'm told Abeka's high school maths are not well done, BJU's high school math is tough, or so my middle son thought so. I know nothing about R&S math and MUS will walk your son, with DVD video, all the way through pre-calculus.


I'm not trying to talk you into anything, but I wish, wish, wish I had had MUS for my older son. I would have plopped him in that and stuck with it year after year. Sometimes I still wonder if I did the wrong thing taking my youngest out after Gamma. The single focus was driving me crazy, it wasn't bothering him a bit. ;)


I'm also noticing that many of the problems that he's struggling w/ are the multi-step word problems. The problems that give lots of info and you have to sit there and decide what info is meaningful and how to apply it.


Multi-step word problems are brain teasers for any child, but an LD child is going to truly struggle with them. And some companies try to make them exceedingly difficult, for difficulty's sake. This is wonderful for some children, but disaster for others. All math programs will, and should, have word problems, but they won't all be as difficult to comprehend. Regardless of what program you use, your son may always struggle with them. I would be sure to sit with him and help him think through the steps. He may find with another math curriculum that he is able to understand them better. It really depends on how they are written. I know with BJU, in 4th grade I believe, they taught my son to really look through and find the unnecessary information in the word problem, before trying to solve it. The unnecessary info that is thrown in there but not needed to work the problem. It was a useful skill for my son, and something I would never have thought to teach him on my own. If Saxon did not teach that, perhaps it is something you both can look for. We would literally cross out the unnecessary stuff, and then have a clearer focus on the main problem and the steps needed to get our answer.


Well, I hope you find something you'll both be happy with. Please let us know what you decide on! I would also love to know how he does with it. :001_smile:



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