Jump to content


Math woes w/8yo ds


Recommended Posts

So this has been a rough year all around for my 8yo, 3rd grade(ish) ds. We finally have things sorted out for his day, with the exception of math. I'm hoping you all can help me figure out what's best for him. :)


A little background that may be helpful ... the only year he's done well and been enthusiastic about math was K, when we didn't use any curricula and he would use manipulatives and his white board to set his own problems and figure them out. We also did a lot of playing at math that year, but by the end of the year he wanted a "real" book like his big brother. We started with MM in 1st, and he found it visually overwhelming. We bumbled along with me using the whiteboard and teaching the topics until I remembered toward the end of the year that we had pdfs of the orange and red books for Miquon. He loved those, and we went into 2nd grade thinking that's the route we'd go. But, while the rods were so helpful for this very concrete-thinking child, the abstractness of things like negative numbers quickly overwhelmed him and convinced him he was bad at math and this was "hard math". We struggled along for a while until I put him into CLE 2. He didn't like how long the lessons were, but he liked how it was taught - the small bites, the frequent review, the small number of each problem so that he wasn't faced with a whole page of problems he hated. 


That brings us to this year, and CLE 3. We started off okay, eliminating some of the review problems if I knew he didn't need the review. He was understanding everything, but he was absolutely *hating* it. Tears more often than not. A while back we put it away and pulled out the Miquon books, and he's been doing ~okay~ with them. I can see where it's a little bit of an odd combination of too simple for him (which he finds very frustrating for some reason) and pretty abstract/algebraic thinking (which he also finds frustrating). We're going to keep working at it at least until Christmas, when I may pull the CLE back out and try again. 


This is my most tender-hearted boy, and he gets overwhelmed and frustrated easily. He can do the work and understand it, but he gets quickly upset at the heaviness of the load if it feels too hard to him (if that makes sense). Obviously, that's a life skill and we're working on helping him learn to regulate those emotions, but math still needs to be done and I would really love it if he didn't hate it and cry over it daily. So - any suggestions for curriculum, methods, anything? Either for the rest of this year (although I don't think it's in the budget to purchase another program this year unless it was super cheap) or for next year? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:grouphug: Awww... hugs to both you and your sensitive young student!


It sounds like he may be rather perfectionistic and easily frustrated if it doesn't come quickly to him. If that's the case, switching to other math programs may not solve the problem, and may end up making it even harder to finally "click" with something, due to all the curriculum hopping.


If he clicks with the CLE method (and since purchasing something else is not an option), then try changing the *way* you do math:


- if too much writing seems to be the problem, or if writing on top of thinking feels too crushing for him, do some of the lesson orally -- or on a white board -- or you scribe the steps and answers for him


- if he gets concepts quickly and doesn't *need* ALL of the practice, just do every other problem, or just selected problems that you circle


- if too much review or practice is the problem, then once he clearly understands a concept, skip the remaining problems -- don't keep "drilling and killing"  (sounds like you're already doing that :) )

- if he feels overwhelmed visually by what looks like too much on a page, tape a blank sheet of paper over half of the page, and do that half the page in one session, and then tape the blank sheet over the finished half and do the remaining half in a second session after an exercise/snack break, or some read-aloud time


- if sessions are lasting too long and overwhelming him, only work for 20 minutes, stop wherever in the lesson he is, set it aside, and then in the afternoon do a second  15 minute session; or, do math in a "loop schedule" -- just go as far into a lesson as works for him, and the next day, pick up where he left off and finish the lesson, and possibly start a new lesson (or not) -- looping stretches out how long it takes to get through a program, so just plan on doing math in the summer at that gentle pace to finish it off (the side benefit is that no loss of retention, since you do math daily even during summer break :) -- although, DO take breaks in there from time to time so your DS doesn't end up resenting the Math by doing it year-round!)


- if he needs more time to absorb a concept initially, slow down, or "go sideways", and play around with some supplements (like Miquon, or booklets or printables that use pattern blocks, cuisenaire rods and other manipulatives) -- often, the difficult topic simmers on the back burner of the brain while doing a supplement for a few days or a week or several weeks, and when you come back to it, the difficult topic is no longer difficult


- try practicing math concepts with games and real-life math rather than with the CLE worksheets



Also, you might ask for tips on positive ways to help DS learn how to work through subjects that are difficult, or how to persevere -- I've seen some very wise advice in past threads! :) And, sometimes it is just a matter of time and patience to allow them to mature emotionally in their own timetable to reach a place of having "emotional endurance" to not get upset so easily...


BEST of luck in seeing what the best way to do Math with this tender-hearted student! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

These suggestions from Lori D. are so, so good.


My only other suggestion is that you might want to spend a minute or two each day talking about how the new content connects to what your son already knows. CLE can feel a little random in the order that it introduces topics, so a little conversation that helps the new info fit into the big picture can help some kids make sense of it better. 



  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...