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2 kiddos struggling in math-HELP!


hadera
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I have 2 dc children in grades 4th and 6th. They both attend a charter school that uses Investigations math curriculum. Both children have been struggling through math for quite sometime...My eldest has attended the schools free tutoring once a week for quite sometime. While she feels it helps I don't see much progress. My youngest struggles the most and does not seem to understand number relationships, really at all. I am not at a place where I can pull them out of school or place dc in a different school, but I am committed to afterschool them . My eldest is getting some out of school tutoring once a week also. Both dc children were born quite early (10 &12 wks) and I have been told preemies tend to struggle in math. Not sure how true this is. I mostly want some realistic curriculum ideas. I love the idea of Beast Academy but don't know that it would be appropriate for children that are struggling. We have the first few books of LOF but I feel like they need more practice more bang for my time. My math experience/foundation was/is not that great, so I feel like I need something that really helps the teacher teach. Currently we are doing fact boot camp for the month of October and I will add something in November.

The youngest dc teacher said she felt that a lot of her class was lacking in math skills due to the heavy focus on reading(due to law changes in our state) for 3rd grade. I think my  youngest child may easily be 2 grades behind and eldest not much better. Is it even possible to get them where they need to be?

Any ideas would be helpful...

Thank you

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My younger daughter used Investigations math and I found it pretty appalling. Have you looked at http://www.mathmammoth.com? Math mammoth is good because you can print off the sections they need and there isn't any stigma about it being a 2nd grade level or whatever. Beast academy is pretty challenging, but if it motivates, why not? I'm a not a LOF fan.

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Lots of homeschoolers will have great ideas.

 

In my personal experience, when my kids are struggling, I NEED outside help.

 

I have heard great things about Kumon and Russian Math, depending on the center. They are experienced in catching children up. They start with the basics and run them through. If you have the funds, I'd do that.

 

If you DON'T have the funds, then I will say I believe Singapore Math is the best conceptually for foundations. Beast Academy is great for critical thinking but I would never recommend it to someone struggling with math to start off with. Singapore is very visual and asks you to go through the concepts. It's designed to train a typically-thinking child to think through math problems from concrete to conceptual. I think if your kids are struggling with the basics--a 4th grader doing 2nd grade math is indeed struggling with the basics--it is a great place for them to get the review they need. It's friendly and it doesn't over-complicate things. It's not meant to pique their interest in numbers. It's meant to get it done.

 

Is this the curriculum that your kids are in?

 

https://investigations.terc.edu/library/curric-gl/sample_g1_u3_db.pdf

 

https://investigations.terc.edu/library/curric-gl/sample_g1_smh_p46-47.pdf

 

That looks overly conceptual for many mathematical thinkers. Lots of things, lots of words, not enough simple lining up the blocks.

 

Singapore is not like that. The questions in grades 1, 2 and even much of 3 are straightforward. They provide the pattern to give the kids a basis for mathematical thinking. They don't ask the kids to create the pattern. That's asking too much of many kids, in my opinion.

 

My daughter is doing Singapore 2a right now. I think if it would have been carrots and peas both of my kids would have gotten stuck on that example I posted. Carrots and peas are not the same thing. It's hard to turn a carrot into a pea. But if you're like... how can you group the dots? Then they can do it.

 

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Lots of homeschoolers will have great ideas.

 

In my personal experience, when my kids are struggling, I NEED outside help.

 

I have heard great things about Kumon and Russian Math, depending on the center. They are experienced in catching children up. They start with the basics and run them through. If you have the funds, I'd do that.

 

If you DON'T have the funds, then I will say I believe Singapore Math is the best conceptually for foundations. Beast Academy is great for critical thinking but I would never recommend it to someone struggling with math to start off with. Singapore is very visual and asks you to go through the concepts. It's designed to train a typically-thinking child to think through math problems from concrete to conceptual. I think if your kids are struggling with the basics--a 4th grader doing 2nd grade math is indeed struggling with the basics--it is a great place for them to get the review they need. It's friendly and it doesn't over-complicate things. It's not meant to pique their interest in numbers. It's meant to get it done.

 

Is this the curriculum that your kids are in?

 

https://investigations.terc.edu/library/curric-gl/sample_g1_u3_db.pdf

 

https://investigations.terc.edu/library/curric-gl/sample_g1_smh_p46-47.pdf

 

That looks overly conceptual for many mathematical thinkers. Lots of things, lots of words, not enough simple lining up the blocks.

 

Singapore is not like that. The questions in grades 1, 2 and even much of 3 are straightforward. They provide the pattern to give the kids a basis for mathematical thinking. They don't ask the kids to create the pattern. That's asking too much of many kids, in my opinion.

 

My daughter is doing Singapore 2a right now. I think if it would have been carrots and peas both of my kids would have gotten stuck on that example I posted. Carrots and peas are not the same thing. It's hard to turn a carrot into a pea. But if you're like... how can you group the dots? Then they can do it.

Yes, that is the same curriculum!  We could  not cover cost for both children for Kumon...as it is paying a tutor for 1 day a week is hard but doable. I will check Singapore and MM out. Thank you all for the suggestions!

 

 

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If you think your youngest doesn't understand number relationships at all at that age, you are almost certainly dealing with dyscalculia, not merely poor teaching. Look up Ronit Bird's books and use lots of games. Usually for a dyscalculia kid, I'd recommend CSMP maths but I'm not sure whether it would be appropriate to start from the grade one level with a grade 4 kid. Because it is not a standard kind of maths (which is why it works for my dyscalculic dd) it's tricky to jump into part way. Since it is free online, you can start right now (and if you do, start with grade 1 and do a few lessons in a day if your kiddo has that kind of stamina) while you decide what else to do and wait for it to arrive in the mail.

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I dunno Rosie, if you look at the curriculum, if my kids had to do that they'd be banging their heads against the wall. While I agree that OP might be dealing with dyscalculia, it really can be extremely poor teaching. It's one of those, "Let's turn a simple subtraction problem into a long story about vacuum cleaners" curricula.

 

That said, the CSMP looks solid for review and it has the bonus of being free, so why not?

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My kid has mild dyscalculia and wouldn't learn any maths at all without CSMP. Maybe it is not appropriate for those with more severe, I don't know because I haven't anyone more severe to test it on. But, as you said, it's free so why not? It's scripted so easy for a parent to pick up and use. And, I've found it invaluable for providing, oh, I don't even know what to call it. Foundations for relationships between numbers that are so intuitive to me that I couldn't even imagine how to think about it until we were about 30 lessons into the K level with dd. Stuff I can't even write coherently about yet. :p I think it is butt kickingly good for a kid who isn't going to get traditional maths served up as is, yet it is gentle enough not to scare them.

 

Of course, as is obvious by my sig line, my kid is only in grade 2. I haven't looked further ahead than the grade 1 level other than the supplement for people jumping in at grade 3 level, which I looked at out of curiosity after teaching the whole of K. I still couldn't understand it. I'm going to test myself by looking at it again when we finish grade 1. :p

 

Anyway, at this point I'm just chatting. :D

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I used to teach in a school that used that curriculum and switched the year after I was hired.  There's a lot of great conceptual stuff there, but there's also a lot of room for children to miss the basics.  As a staff, we really loved some of the units.  The fractions unit in 3rd grade was wonderful.  But, I really felt that we were missing many of our students.  Now, my version of the program didn't look like that... This was a late 90's program and there were no student books.  It was all teacher and manipulative based.  Things may have changed in more recent editions.

 

I would say that you'd be best looking at something that was procedurally based, like MM or even just the Kumon workbooks.  From my experience with the program, they are likely missing algorithm understanding since there is a heavy emphasis on students discovering methods for that.  MM is going to do a better job teaching the teacher than Kumon though.  And Kumon is just going to remediate your algorithm issue and is not going to address other holes you might discover along the way.

 

 

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TERC Investigations?  Yeah, no. 

 

I'm going to say go with Math U See.  It's so gentle, it's easy to stop exactly where they need and give them more practice.  The simplicity of it is invaluable, IME.  You build, you write, you move on to something just slightly harder...

The blocks are a good investment, and I've yet to see anything that shows multiplying and dividing fractions any clearer.  The pages aren't overwhelming, either. 

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If you think your youngest doesn't understand number relationships at all at that age, you are almost certainly dealing with dyscalculia, not mly poor teaching. Look up Ronit Bird's books and use lots of games. Usually for a dyscalculia kid, I'd recommend CSMP maths but I'm not sure whether it would be appropriate to start from the grade one level with a grade 4 kid. Because it is not a standard kind of maths (which is why it works for my dyscalculic dd) it's tricky to jump into part way. Since it is free online, you can start right now (and if you do, start with grade 1 and do a few lessons in a day if your kiddo has that kind of stamina) while you decide what else to do and wait for it to arrive in the mail.

I do think there is some type of math learning problem. That being said I always get "When we work in small groups he does ok". He was also pulled by a math tutor who would help kids in our school and she said the same thing, but also that there were some things she didn't quite get that he did. Even with small numbers it is very hard for him do mental calculations or explain a relationship between numbers. If you were to ask him, What is the difference between 8 and 10, how far apart are they? He can't tell you right away. I just asked to be sure...he said one. Yet he understands what he needs to do with word problems some to most of the time , although he has to use all kinds of ways to figure the math out. He can show you with objects what a multiplication problem looks like. I will look into CSMP.

 

 

I dunno Rosie, if you look at the curriculum, if my kids had to do that they'd be banging their heads against the wall. While I agree that OP might be dealing with dyscalculia, it really can be extremely poor teaching. It's one of those, "Let's turn a simple subtraction problem into a long story about vacuum cleaners" curricula.

 

That said, the CSMP looks solid for review and it has the bonus of being free, so why not?

LOL. Yes I think for some kids they need math to be a bit more straight forward.

 

I used to teach in a school that used that curriculum and switched the year after I was hired.  There's a lot of great conceptual stuff there, but there's also a lot of room for children to miss the basics.  As a staff, we really loved some of the units.  The fractions unit in 3rd grade was wonderful.  But, I really felt that we were missing many of our students.  Now, my version of the program didn't look like that... This was a late 90's program and there were no student books.  It was all teacher and manipulative based.  Things may have changed in more recent editions.

 

I would say that you'd be best looking at something that was procedurally based, like MM or even just the Kumon workbooks.  From my experience with the program, they are likely missing algorithm understanding since there is a heavy emphasis on students discovering methods for that.  MM is going to do a better job teaching the teacher than Kumon though.  And Kumon is just going to remediate your algorithm issue and is not going to address other holes you might discover along the way.

I also work at the dc school  and I think for some kids the math works. It works for the middle of the road kid not too good at math and not a kid who needs more structure and explicit teaching.  Traditional algorithms are taught in later grades. Sadly, for my kids they need more explicit teaching. Also there are student books now ,so more structured than what you are talking about. I have tried helping them but it hasn't been a long concerted effort on my part. I feel frustrated that they go to school all day and I have to reteach them. For awhile I thought it was just confusing for them having school do one thing and me doing something else. I also felt strongly about having to do school twice. We have tried to make it work. Sigh. At this point I just want to make sure they learn math and I am not going to worry about what is happening at school. I was homeschooled the majority of my life and while there are some really good things about our school, there are some things I just don't understand. Thank you for all the responses I will check out all the info you have sent my way. My kiddos love graphic novels so I may just get the BA to have around until they can catch up to it. In the meantime I will check into the other programs for the spine of our after schooling.

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I do think there is some type of math learning problem. That being said I always get "When we work in small groups he does ok".He was also pulled by a math tutor who would help kids in our school and she said the same thing, but also that there were some things she didn't quite get that he did. Even with small numbers it is very hard for him do mental calculations or explain a relationship between numbers. If you were to ask him, What is the difference between 8 and 10, how far apart are they? He can't tell you right away. I just asked to be sure...he said one. Yet he understands what he needs to do with word problems some to most of the time , although he has to use all kinds of ways to figure the math out. He can show you with objects what a multiplication problem looks like. I will look into CSMP.

 

Well, small-group learning can be great if it's well facilitated but it doesn't always go as planned. I'd be concerned about copying in that environment.

 

And I don't think it's sad to be an algorithmic thinker. It's not sad to learn grammar using a grammar book and it's not sad to learn math using a math book. The idea that not being an intuitive learner is a negative... I disagree with that. I respect people who work hard to learn. Being an intuitive learner only gets you so far unless you are really in the top .001% of math learners and by definition, most of us just aren't there. Not even those working in IT, engineering, and other STEM fields.

 

Sometimes you need to see more of the pattern to get how math works. That's not a deficit. Maybe they were not paying attention to the pattern early on or maybe they demand more certainty. IT doesn't mean they can't be great at math. Elementary math is only an indicator of later performance for populations. For any individual, they can be anywhere on that trajectory they determine they want to be.

 

If they like graphic novels, and re-read them, maybe they can start with the textbook and read it a few times before attempting selected problems later on. My daughter loves to read well ahead in those books.

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Well, small-group learning can be great if it's well facilitated but it doesn't always go as planned. I'd be concerned about copying in that environment.

 

And I don't think it's sad to be an algorithmic thinker. It's not sad to learn grammar using a grammar book and it's not sad to learn math using a math book. The idea that not being an intuitive learner is a negative... I disagree with that. I respect people who work hard to learn. Being an intuitive learner only gets you so far unless you are really in the top .001% of math learners and by definition, most of us just aren't there. Not even those working in IT, engineering, and other STEM fields.

 

Sometimes you need to see more of the pattern to get how math works. That's not a deficit. Maybe they were not paying attention to the pattern early on or maybe they demand more certainty. IT doesn't mean they can't be great at math. Elementary math is only an indicator of later performance for populations. For any individual, they can be anywhere on that trajectory they determine they want to be.

 

If they like graphic novels, and re-read them, maybe they can start with the textbook and read it a few times before attempting selected problems later on. My daughter loves to read well ahead in those books.

Thank you for your thoughts. I greatly appreciate your view it is so full of hope. Today my dc improved by 4mins on a times table drill he did yesterday and again today during our fact boot camp. There is hope.

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I do think there is some type of math learning problem. That being said I always get "When we work in small groups he does ok". He was also pulled by a math tutor who would help kids in our school and she said the same thing, but also that there were some things she didn't quite get that he did. Even with small numbers it is very hard for him do mental calculations or explain a relationship between numbers. If you were to ask him, What is the difference between 8 and 10, how far apart are they? He can't tell you right away. I just asked to be sure...he said one. Yet he understands what he needs to do with word problems some to most of the time , although he has to use all kinds of ways to figure the math out. He can show you with objects what a multiplication problem looks like. I will look into CSMP.

 

 

LOL. Yes I think for some kids they need math to be a bit more straight forward.

 

I also work at the dc school  and I think for some kids the math works. It works for the middle of the road kid not too good at math and not a kid who needs more structure and explicit teaching.  Traditional algorithms are taught in later grades. Sadly, for my kids they need more explicit teaching. Also there are student books now ,so more structured than what you are talking about. I have tried helping them but it hasn't been a long concerted effort on my part. I feel frustrated that they go to school all day and I have to reteach them. For awhile I thought it was just confusing for them having school do one thing and me doing something else. I also felt strongly about having to do school twice. We have tried to make it work. Sigh. At this point I just want to make sure they learn math and I am not going to worry about what is happening at school. I was homeschooled the majority of my life and while there are some really good things about our school, there are some things I just don't understand. Thank you for all the responses I will check out all the info you have sent my way. My kiddos love graphic novels so I may just get the BA to have around until they can catch up to it. In the meantime I will check into the other programs for the spine of our after schooling.

 

I understand your concern here, but remember that some kids need to see it a different way to really understand it.  Just look at the number of parents here who are questioning their curriculum choices!  I commend you for looking into after schooling this for your children. :) 

 

We are using BA as a supplement this year and it's a highlight for my kids.  My math and non math kid both really enjoy it.  I'm not worried about mastery with it; it's more of an exposure thing to me.  But I can see they're picking up lots and we've just barely begun!

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I use math mammoth topic books with mine as afterschooling. It isn't procedural as it covers a lot of mental maths and number sense in tge bits i have seen. BUT it doesn't use elaborate stories and it does lead to the algorithm so by the time you get there you underetand how it works and it does teach explicitly.

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  • 5 weeks later...

A mini follow up:

I am super excited about my curriculum that is coming in the mail in a few days! For my dd(6th) I decided to mainly focus on fractions for right now. I purchased both the mm and key to fraction sets. Ill see when they arrive if I will mainly use one or the other. I also ordered BA 3A. Both kiddos can read the guide, but right now I plan to just have dd do the practice book. I ended up buying some used math-u-see blocks and started playing addition games from   crewtonramoneshouseofmath.com/

 with my son. Amazing how his brain picked up the colors and was able to remember the facts so much better!   I will go through some of the Beta MUS ( which a very kind person lent us) which covers addition and subtraction with ds for now. I do sprinkle in at least 1 challenge problem( current 4th school math) to help him use the skills he knows to work them out.  We continue to do skip counting and multiplication facts.

I really wanted to buy the Ronit Bird but we don't have an Ipad. My kids really enjoyed the dragronbox game and I see they are coming out with a numbers game that looks like using cuisenaire rods. I think this will be helpful for ds. From what I have read it seems he may have dyscalculia among other things.

 

A big part is building their self esteem up and keeping up our practice daily. I know there is a long road in front of us. I am encouraged by the tiny amount of growth I have seen in the last few weeks.

Thank you for all the ideas!

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