# What is going on in her brain?

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Something is quite different about the way dd2 processes, but I can't quite put my finger on how, or predict when it will pop up. I thought maybe someone here might be able to help me understand and anticipate her.

She is very, very empathetic and intuitive of others' feelings. She immediately applied every new ability as a baby in interesting ways to access her world, spoke early, and obsessed over tough ideas like cruelty and death as a tot.

She is my Lego-lover who can spend hours engaged building her own creations. She loves to play and build with tangrams, c-rods, and pattern blocks. I only recently realized, though, that she cannot look at a fairly simple drawing of a shape and reproduce it or tell how it could be produced with manipulatives. (As at the end of the Singapore 1a shape chapter, with tangrams).

She knew all her letters and sounds at fifteen months old, but struggled to learn her numerals. We did preschool on demand with Mathematical Reasoning beginning at 2.5, and she could immediately without effort answer the riddle questions and the patterns, and got verbal addition and subtraction pretty quickly and shape names with some effort--but 2 1/2 years later she still struggled to recognize numerals beyond 4, though she was doing two digit addition and subtraction with regrouping verbally. I looked up some little verses about how the numerals are formed and made sandpaper number cards so we could together trace the numerals while saying the verses, and suddenly she had all of her numerals, in about 15 minutes. I think I need to do the same thing for mathematical symbols, though I'm not sure how to come up with the verses for them, as she still struggles to remember between +, -, and =.

We have some math facts apps that she plays most days,but no matter how many times she plays it, she still has to stop and think every single time to get simple questions like 2+3. No memorization. Likewise, I am teaching her violin by suzuki methods. That means that we have practiced and listened to rhythm variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star about five hundred billion times in the last year or so. She is coming along well, can play the first variation quite well with good sound and fingering and the next few pretty capably--but she cannot remember the order of the notes to play without prompting. If I don't tell her but make her attempt to play without reminding (or let her watch my face, as she will try different notes while watching my eyes to determine if she guessed right), she seems unable to recognize when she has played the correct or incorrect notes. This from the child who would sing back the notes of the birds' songs to them as a 10- to 14-month-old while I gardened!

I recognize that rote memorization is not her thing, but this seems to go beyond that. The struggles with numerals and mathematical symbols seems strange to me for a child who picked up her letters so easily. And the inability to translate a drawn shape, even with lines added to show how it divided into triangles, into building that shape with manipulatives really surprised me, given her love of building shapes and patterns. Does anyone have any insight into this for me?

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That sounds like my kid. She's only five, your little one. Her brain is still developing. She will get the sums soon enough. Let her work them through more times. Maybe she's not convinced yet. :) Her mind works logically, with proof. She doesn't want to do just because, she wants to work it out. That's great.

And I think the gap in two dimensional work to three dimensions will get there. I think linear thinkers tend to be somewhat literal. Like, the two dimensional shape is just not the same as the three dimensional shape. I'm willing to bet she makes up for it in abstract pattern recognition and generalization. Does she say really insightful things about human behavior, like she can figure out why people do things such as choose the shorter line at the store? Most kids can't do that. Logical children can work that out.

I think you may have, unbeknownst to yourself, an expectation that development is across the board. To me, "asynchronous" sounds clinical and that's not how I'd characterize your daughter or mine, or myself. I feel that I am as synchronized as I would like to be. It doesn't mean I meet others' expectations based on one area of my intellect, though. That's their problem, not mine, since it's their expectations.

Mine can play chess really well... but she still forgets the names of moves, you know? But she gets it. She can do the math, figure any pattern, but doesn't remember what the tens column is called. But then if you remind her, she can explain why, and she can extrapolate, "so this is the hundreds, this is the thousands, this is the ten thousands..." But then she forgets whether it goes left or right. Every time. Because seriously... who cares? It could really go either way and not make a difference.

That means that we have practiced and listened to rhythm variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star about five hundred billion times in the last year or so. She is coming along well, can play the first variation quite well with good sound and fingering and the next few pretty capably--but she cannot remember the order of the notes to play without prompting.

Have you moved on?!? Let the poor child move on. Maybe it's not her song. I'd just move on. Some things take a while to click. Try the scales or anything less ugly than Twinkle Twinkle. If I'd have had to learn an instrument with that song I'd probably have given up. I mean I get Suzuki so you start there, but eventually you move forward, right? Maybe I am misunderstanding this example. You can use spiral with Suzuki, right? I think I'd do that. Maybe she doesn't get Twinkle Twinkle because it doesn't really move her. Mine does way better with jazz and folk than classical.

Basically, anything arbitrary--forget it. I am like that as well. Arbitrary to me is almost not worth knowing until I get why it is that way. Why we write left to right, for example. Why the stars are named for gods and not numbered. Why muscles are named what they are. I have to know why. I have to know the whole system or it just doesn't work.

So I think letting your daughter keep working with tons of manipulatives, lego, etc. is just fine. Make sure she gets tons of motion as well. Let her work through the systems and don't worry about it. She is directing her mental energies elsewhere.

I would instead focus on developing memory through poetry. I don't know what's going on in your daughter's brain... probably something like what goes on in mine. I guess I would ask what is going on in YOUR brain, hah! :) Your daughter's brain sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

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Yes, I'm much like that, too.  You might find some answers by reading about whole to parts learning.  The whole system idea the pp mentioned is how I see things.  I can listen to a 40 minute lecture, and pretty much get zero out of it because he didn't tell me at the outset what he was trying to say.  I spend the whole time trying to remember all the random parts so I can reorganize them to my mind's liking.  By the end of a talk that long, there have been so many parts, I'm done.  I might walk out with a neat new quote, but that's about it.  I don't particularly enjoy museums for the same reason.  All those random placards everywhere mean nothing to me because they don't have clear enough context.

Numbers as what they are make sense, but numbers as an abstract figure do not necessarily follow.  Written math is a language that is separate from understanding math.  It's okay that she isn't ready for the representation of written math.

The same thing with the song.  It does sound a little odd to me that she hasn't memorized it yet, after a whole year?  But I do know that I don't really memorize things that way either.  Again, I have to reorder it and make associations to other things to remember it.

For the record, I was a straight A student with no learning disabilities, and I didn't really do homework.  I can memorize just fine, and have a great memory.  It's not my ability, it's the teaching method.

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Thanks, Tsuga. She is very intuitive about people's motivations and emotions, yes. I hadn't thought of introducing her to chess, I will have to try that. With Suzuki method, you master all five twinkle variations before starting the other songs (and it is not unusual for kids who start young to spend a year or two getting to that point, even with regular lessons rather than more casual mommy-teaching), but I also use Strings Fun and Easy to introduce a lot more variety for this slow time before she's ready for 'real' songs.

I guess I did expect her to be more synchronous without realizing it. I expected asynchronicity, but between different areas--not so much within a single subject area, so that one trouble concept becomes a hurdle to moving forward where she is ready, to her own frustration.

She actually has a great memory for poetry and scripture memorization, song lyrics and foreign language vocabulary, and will randomly quote passages from her favorite audiobooks. So you think the difference is in whether she finds the information arbitrary or not? Is 'shape A = the sound "ah"' less arbitrary than 'shape 6 = the quantity six'? Or a list of names of Chinese dynasties less arbitrary than 'shape > = greater than'? I just don't see it.

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It might be helpful for her for you to start at the end when you are teaching her.  Most of my children learn this way, also, and it makes them seem like they are more ahead than they are at times.  Let's take music theory.  If I teach my child a scale one day, and then another another day, they tend to get confused and frustrated.  It seems logical to do it in parts and pieces, but a different approach goes far better.  I start at the other end.  First I define a scale, and explain how to create one. I mention major and minor and chromatic. Then I tell them exactly how many scales there are.  I mention modes and the like, and tell them that isn't something they need to think about now, just know they exist.  I'm typically drawing a diagram that looks something like a family tree as I'm talking.  This is brief, just a few minutes, but it places everything into perspective, and answers the "What if" questions kids like this find so distracting.  Now I can say, usually, the first scale we spend a lot of time practicing is c major.  It's fun and easy to play because you don't have to think about flats and sharps.  It's used for x kind of music.  Like, this song.  And now I can finally introduce the song I want them to play.

We still don't just play it, though.  We look at the whole thing and see the parts that repeat, the limited number of notes, and etc.  Big picture kids can struggle because they have more questions than answers.  It's not that it's arbitrary, necessarily, it's that everything is relevant, and until we know what things aren't, we are trying to sort all of it, and are waiting to draw conclusions or solidify anything in our minds until we know that's all.  We find it incredibly frustrating to be told another little piece of something.  I feel like the instructor has been holding out!  What ELSE do I not know?!?  How can I possibly be sure that 2+3=5 when something like a - comes along?  Does it matter if the 3 or the 2 come first?  What if....and on and on and on...

My oldest dd is flying through Japanese, finally!  I told her that once people learn about 5000 words, they can be reasonably conversational in most languages.  All the pieces of learning kana, and some grammar, and lists of vocabulary about colors or clothes or what have you, wasn't working.  Now that she knows exactly what she is trying to do... BAM! She learned 200 words last week, and can go from English to Japanese and back, and can write them in kana.  She just needed the big picture.  When are we done?  What are we accomplishing?

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Thanks, Ikuradesuka! That makes more sense to me. I will have to look up and read more about whole-to-parts learning, now. (I have generally followed the WTM advice and gone the other way.)

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Thanks, Tsuga. She is very intuitive about people's motivations and emotions, yes. I hadn't thought of introducing her to chess, I will have to try that. With Suzuki method, you master all five twinkle variations before starting the other songs (and it is not unusual for kids who start young to spend a year or two getting to that point, even with regular lessons rather than more casual mommy-teaching), but I also use Strings Fun and Easy to introduce a lot more variety for this slow time before she's ready for 'real' songs.

I guess I did expect her to be more synchronous without realizing it. I expected asynchronicity, but between different areas--not so much within a single subject area, so that one trouble concept becomes a hurdle to moving forward where she is ready, to her own frustration.

She actually has a great memory for poetry and scripture memorization, song lyrics and foreign language vocabulary, and will randomly quote passages from her favorite audiobooks. So you think the difference is in whether she finds the information arbitrary or not? Is 'shape A = the sound "ah"' less arbitrary than 'shape 6 = the quantity six'? Or a list of names of Chinese dynasties less arbitrary than 'shape > = greater than'? I just don't see it.

My daughter goes to an experienced Suzuki teacher.

I think her teacher's understanding of mastery may differ from yours. Every teacher is different. My daughter's teacher focuses on music familiarity, note familiarity, reading more than many other teachers.

If you are working in another book though so she doesn't get bored that sounds like a good idea.

As for numbers and letters, we see letters attached to their sounds far, far more often than numbers attached to their quantities. The way to develop number sense is to talk about amounts while moving, building. It's not that she doesn't get the symbols. She sounds like she's still working on the quantities, seeing how they relate to one another. She's not going to apply a symbolic language to an incomplete understanding of the system.

For that I strongly recommend running, riding bikes, swinging. Movement in time is the very basis of mathematics. Without time and space there is no math, no music. It's been suggested and studied that one reason boys tend to excel in math at higher levels is that early math instinct. So, so many boys are running and moving. I really think there is something there. You can't get language without other people, you can't get math without movement. That's the basic context. Divisions in space and time. Discrete objects are what we most often use for counting ("how many balls") but if you think about it, that's just one of many ways to divide things up and count things. Most math occurs on a continuum that we make discrete. So I would emphasize really living math in every day. 'It's been five minutes since we started. We started at 2:30. So now it's (pause) 2:35." "I think we can get there in 15 minutes, do you? Let's see who's closer!" "How many swings was that?" "Five minutes! If you rode around the block two times, how many minutes?"

Tons and tons of real-life math at her age with her intellect should cement it in pretty well. I wouldn't bother with worksheets unless she wants to, until she has the math instinct. Not to say hold her back of course. My LO loves math worksheets. But she didn't stop counting on her fingers until six, although she could multiply tens.

That's my out-of-my-butt theory of the day.

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