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Math is sooooo, sooo slow!


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Any suggestions to help a 12yo with his math speed?


Math is his challenge area, to be sure, as in, he has to work harder in that subject than in any other. We had cognitive testing done in 4th grade, and he tested substantially lower in math than in any other subject. But, he is very brilliant overall, so that still put his math skills in the 'average' category. But the lady doing the testing emphasized his lower working memory (was that what it was called?), and said speed drills would never be a good measure of his skill.


He's using CLE, and is in LU 506. Tons of fraction work now, and the problems have multiple steps - invert the fraction, reduce the fraction, multiply the fraction, simplify the fraction. Each step requires a quick recall of divisibility/factors, etc. that he just doesn't have. 


Skip counting is something he's never been able to do. He knows his multiplication facts, but they are slow - I recently set xtra math on the 6 second setting, and he scored 99. Division is slower, maybe low 80s on the same setting. 


How to help this fellow? Math shouldn't take 1.5 hours to do one lesson!

Edited by diaperjoys
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Hmmm....if he KNOWS what to do and has the concepts down, but the actual processing is slow because that's how he's wired...


I would consider allowing him to use a calculator.  Especially seeing as how he's older.  At this point, he's working on a completely different conceptual topic (fractions) that will most definitely move at a much slower pace if his fact recall is slow.  


I'm not saying give up on working on speed....but I would probably allow the calculator use during his actual fractions lessons and work on facts within a different realm.


You might consider putting him on Prodigy Math for something "fun" and he'll get his review in at the same time.  And while you can't set Prodigy for speed drills...you can set fact practice within their assignments page.  

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Sorry, but yes he's hard wired to go more slowly. The working memory piece will be helped by a calculator.


I had two kids who would take an hour and a half or more on a math lesson. I don't consider that bad at all. But when I had two more come along who worked faster, it was rather nice.


Work on the weaknesses, support them, accommodate, but accept the differences.


FWIW, it really seems like you could be dealing with nonverbal learning disability.

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I'd give him fewer problems--a few each of the easy, medium and hard ones, but not full sets.


You might also look into documenting extended time as an accommodation for standardized tests so that when he gets to the SAT or ACT, going slowly doesn't count against him.

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Maybe it's time to update his testing?  If a bright 12 (7th grader? 8th grader?) is doing 5th grade math, he might have dyscalculia (a learning disability).  When you're saying he has trouble skip counting, that feeds to that.  The ADHD and low processing speed and working memory alone should not cause that.  


So yes you can work on his working memory, consider meds if he has ADHD, etc., but if he has dyscalculia I would add some work on multiplication/division using Ronit Bird materials to see if you can get that improve.  As you say, if the understanding of the basics isn't there, then you can't build on it for fractions, etc.    So I would update those evals and see what that tells you.  3-4 years is a normal interval for evals.  Or, if it hasn't been that long, just go to a psych for a 2nd opinion.  

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Agree with OhE, you might want to update the testing and look into the possibility of dyscalculia.  


He will probably never process math quickly and timed math quizzes are not going to be helpful or a good judge of his knowledge.  If it is causing stress I would eliminate timed anything for the moment.  Since you are using CLE, if he is still doing the drills, I say change the drills so that it isn't how many problems he can do in a minute but how many problems he can do accurately without a time limit.  If he wants to try and beat his own time, he could time himself and write down how long it takes him to complete all the drill problems and just try to improve that number but if it is causing stress I would drop tracking the time altogether.  Are you letting him use the CLE reference chart?  


Other things that may help:

1. Start a math notebook.  Copy the explanations for each new concept, tape them to cardstock and put them in a sheet protector.   Keep them in that notebook for him to refer to as needed.  Use labeled divider tabs so he can find things easily.  It may take a long time for all the steps to solidify for things like fractions.  Keep a protractor/ruler/etc. in there, too, for quick access.


2.  Cross off some of the review problems in areas he is solid (even if he is slow) so he can focus on the areas he needs more practice.


3.  Work with him using a dry erase board and manipulatives to go slowly, step by step, through the process with each new concept, then review fairly extensively the next day and the next.  With fractions in particular you may want to look at doing something like CTC math on the side.  It allows a student to move through all the grade levels as needed (usually on sale through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op).  For instance, you could have him do fractions lessons starting with a much lower grade level and move up through the grades selecting math lessons that tie directly to what he is learning in CTC.  (We are doing this here and it is helping).  You could both watch the video explanation examples and pause after each section to work the problems together before the video shows the answer.  Then you could both do the actual questions together.  After that let him tackle the CLE stuff.  The CTC lessons are pretty short, especially at the lower grade levels.  If you are cutting out some of the review in CLE then this shouldn't add too much more time to his math lesson overall but it might help with speed in the long run.  Having the combination of auditory/visual/kinesthetic input may help.


4.  Have him create a math chart of multiplication facts.  You can find blank ones on line.  Since he struggles with skip counting, maybe pick one or two facts and focus on the patterns of the numbers.  Have him fill out just the facts for those two things. Then add to that chart.  Have him do a new chart every couple of weeks.  (Let him use the CLE chart for reference until he can fill in his own multiplication chart well).


5. Look at Ronit Bird materials to see if that might help.


6.  Break math up into two sections.  This is very mentally draining for him.  He may need breaks.  Do one half then let him have a mental and physical break to go do something more active, like play outside or do a household chore with you (play music, tell jokes or whatever so it is more of a bonding time if that helps motivation).  Return to do the other half after a snack or something.


7.  Document the modifications you are implementing.  He may need accommodations on the SAT/ACT if he intends to go to college.


Hugs and best wishes.

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