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Math woes - pondering switching programs


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Yet another math question. :)


7 year old DS is very math-intuitive, but quickly bored. We were using RS, and had to switch due to time constraints - RS was taking too much time (or not getting done due to the time it required), and honestly, I did not enjoy teaching it. So I ordered MM last April, and we have been trudging through it. I was hopeful that he'd do it more independently, we'd save some teacher-intensive time, and everyone would be happy. Not so.


I think 5 months is a fair shot at making it work, right? I don't want to jump ship unless it's really necessary, but I also want to find something that works for him, that we can stick with for the long haul. I suppose I *could* stick with MM, but it is killing all the joy in math for him, and seeing that makes me sad. It feels like time to try to find something else.


So I am going to ask for the moon here... A math program that is visual, whole to parts (preferably), not too heavy on review as it bores him to tears... (To clarify, review is good... but too much repetition while learning a concept seems to be the kicker here.)


Or, do I keep going with MM? Aaaaaaagghhh, I don't know what to do!


Any ideas?

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My son is like yours, and I think you could make MM work still. You just need to change the way you're using it. Curriculum is a TOOL. YOU are the teacher.


First, don't expect a 7 year old (especially a BOY!) to be independent. It's just not happening for most kids that age, especially in a skill subject like math. I know the curriculum CAN be independent, but for a 7 year old, that's asking a bit much IMO. You need to stay close. He's only 7! :)


Second, if he's bored, you probably aren't in the right spot. Did you place him correctly? Should he be working a semester or two higher maybe?


If he is placed correctly (ie, he doesn't already know the material being presented), you may need to just assign less problems. Hopefully you aren't assigning ALL the problems, because even Maria Miller says you don't have to. ;)


Here's how we do MM here:


1) I look at the section before we start and determine if we even need to do it. Some sections he already knows, so I skip them, or I maybe assign 2-3 problems to demonstrate that he understands them, then we move on to the next section. We did this this week when we were in some sections that involve multiplying by 10. He's known how to multiply by 10 since he was 5 years old. We're not going to dwell on it! We moved on.


2) Once we have a section that is new material or that I think we need to go over the teaching anyway, I read the teaching to him, then I read the instructions for the first part of problems. I circle which problems I want him to do. This may be very few or several, depending on the topic. If it's a topic that is completely new and will take some time to master, I'll assign more problems. If it's a topic that is mostly new but I know he'll get it quickly, I'll assign less problems. If it's a topic he's done before and we're just reviewing it, I'll assign even less problems. I tailor the number of problems to what he actually NEEDS. :)


3) If I think he needs to do a lot of problems (say, multiplcation/division facts), I might do several of them orally to cut down on the writing. He's usually fine with doing things orally. I don't scribe everything, but I know how much writing he can do without getting bogged down, and I try to stay under that limit.


Is MM the most fun ever? Not really. He'd probably prefer Singapore for presentation. But I like teaching from MM, and I have MM, and he's doing well with it. I just made it work for us. Once we got to new stuff, he started liking it quite a bit. The other day, he did algebra using balance sclaes, and he'd never done that before. He really lit up! :D


Also, I break things up by using Singapore's IP and CWP, plus Zaccaro's PCM. I don't do these everyday, but I throw them in once in a while. Today we didn't do MM yet, but we did several pages of PCM (at his request!), and now he's reading through the stories coming up ahead in PCM. :) We'll do a bit of MM later today.

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Are you doing every problem, or just half? MM works best just doing a fraction of the problems (Maria recommends half, then do more IF the child needs more).


That said, my 6yo dd needs more color and visual "fun". I found Sadlier-Oxfords "Progress in Mathematics" to fit the bill nicely -- all full-color bubble-gum color, but still a mastery (vas spiral) approach. May still not need all the problems. I use MM for some topics, probably 2 days a week now, and dd enjoys it (goes and pulls out that workbook), but the bulk is PiM, which you can get for about $20-25 per grade. It is what K12 used to use for math, so you know it's solid.


I plan on revisiting her curric when she's a little older and more mature (and doesn't need quite as much visual interest).


Most early math isn't that conceptually deep, so if your dc "gets' the 4 operations (or how many he's seen so far) but balks at repetition, you might find he does best with just a couple "theory" type lessons and focus on math facts via games or computer activities. Or do arithmetic 3 days a week and geometry/probability/graphing/etc the others (from the B term).


He may be anxious to sink his teeth into "real" problems instead of "drills" and no switch is going to fix that -- better to set aside 10min a day for interactive or fun word problems.


And he may just really enjoy math because it means spending time with YOU. My very kathy 8yo loves math when I do it WITH her, and hates it when I set her up to work "independently" too long. :p


I guess I'm saying, considerer WHY MM isn't working, and then you'll know which direction to go. If you change because it's just "not working" without finding the why (and being clear in your mind about what you want) -- well Luther had some saying about "that's how you get bees for flies, and hornets for bees."


Good luck!

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I use Sinapore for my math intuitive - figures out most of it by himself before it shows up in a book - recently turned 8 year old boy.


I use Math U See for my more needing hands on math 6 year old boy.


They both work great for these particular children. I would suggest Singapore for your situation since he sounds more like my oldest.


The pros of Singapore:

1. Short lessons. My son can learn the lessons easily, likes the fact they are short, and since he is math intuitive is not bored or struggling.


2. Colorful textbooks - used for teaching. Attractive for children.


3. Black & white workbooks - used for doing the problems. A typical assignment is two or three pages, but this puts you through more than one years of work in a school year. The problems are large and spaced out so 2 -3 pages is like 1/2 - 1 a page in most math programs.


4. Since it teaches 'math' thinking & intuitive math thinking it is a subject my ds asks to do. He likes math & Singapore has never taken that joy of math away from him. It has only kindled it some more.


Like another post said 7 is young to expect independent math work. If he was in school a lot of his math would be coming home to do with you as home work. With Singapore you will have to teach the textbook, and then they do the work book. My ds at just turned 8 is starting to become pretty independent with the workbook time, but that wasn't true at all a year ago.

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Thanks for all your thoughts on this. I hope I haven't been expecting too much from him. I don't *think* I have... but feel free to critique and let me know, because now I'm curious. I'll try to share what a typical math lesson looks like, in our house.


We've been doing MM together (I think it's light blue - the one that goes by grades, not topics). I like that it's less teacher intensive than RS, and less scripted (that was hard for me for some reason). And that there is the opportunity for some independent work (which as I said above, was my hope, but it hasn't materialized).


Here's what our lessons look like: We go over the teaching part at the top of the pages together, then do some of the problems together. Then we do one of several things: I read the instructions and we take turns doing the problems together (we call it buddy math); he writes the answers while I sit beside him; or I ask the questions and he calls out the answers while bouncing on an exercise ball and I scribe for him. I've also tried writing the problems on a white board, and even cutting out the little blocks of problems to do "mini-math." Sometimes he asks me to leave him alone, and he does the problems on his own, bringing them to me immediately afterward. But he does not enjoy any of this. Not that he has to enjoy everything - he doesn't. There are some things we simply do because they need to be done. I do hate to see the math spark going out of his eyes though.


He enjoys doing the Usborne Big Book of Sticker Math; one of his favorite DVD sets is MathTacular; and he adores Life of Fred and our other math readers. So I don't *think* it's math in general that he dislikes. If I had to guess, I'd say it's the worksheets - or rather the repetition in the worksheets. I have been making him do (or watch me do) most of the problems, with very little skipping.


It's also possible that I have him placed in the wrong section - I have been waiting to move forward faster till he has some of his math fact memorized. But in the meantime, we seem to be stalling out because I think he wants more meaty problems. (Wow, I never thought I would use the word meaty with regard to math problems - my how things change!)


We had him tested over the summer - not for academic reasons - and found out that he is very gifted. We knew/suspected that already, but I suspect that maybe I have been holding him back a bit. Maybe I need more ways to challenge him?


Today, we skipped MM, and did 2 chapters of Life of Fred Apples (we are starting from the beginning, even though it's below his level), played math games, and he asked to watch the Story of One for his screen time. He did some file folder games as well, that I have pulled out.


I will keep pondering this, and if you all have any more insight, it would be greatly appreciated. I am open to anything and everything - whether tweaking what we are using now, or moving on to something else.


Thanks for all the thoughts and input.

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Yeah, I think your biggest problems are a) having him do all the problems, and b) waiting for math facts to be memorized. KEEP GOING. The math facts will come, because they are used in the math you're moving forward into.


We have done MM1A-4A (we're midway through 4A) in the last year. I'd be happy to PM you with which chapters/sections we skipped and why. It wouldn't be exactly the same as what you'd need to do (because what your child's strengths are might not be the same as my child's strengths), but it might give you an idea of how it can be done so you could make a plan for your own son.


The way you're doing the math lessons sounds right on target. I think you just need to get to a point where the math actually challenges him and isn't boring facts drill. ;) Try moving ahead and seeing if things change a bit. And definitely don't assign all the problems! This program is not designed for ALL the problems to be done. It's not Saxon! :D


Gifted children are often bored by repetition. Remove the unnecessary repetition, and I think you'll have a happier math student. Part of being gifted in math is the fact that it just doesn't take that much for the concepts to be understood and mastered. I did a single lesson in negative numbers when my son brought up the topic at age 5. To this day, without ever having done a single workbook problem, he still knows how to add and subtract negative numbers. We didn't need to do pages and pages of drill, and when we get to negative numbers in MM, I will probably do very little of the early addition/subtraction sections. He's already mastered the basics of that. It'd be time to move on to deeper concepts.


If you do still want to switch programs, I'd go with Singapore. It can be accelerated much the same way as MM can be. The presentation of Singapore is certainly better. I prefer the teaching method of MM, but both are excellent programs for gifted math students (and non-gifted ;) ). No matter what you use, you're probably going to have to accelerate it in some manner. Don't be afraid to do that! There is plenty of math to do. You won't run out before 12th grade. :D

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