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Math for struggling 6th grader

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I don't really post on the forums, actually I never post. But, I need to make a post to use classifieds, so I thought I would get any opinions I can.

My daughter struggles with math. She is probably about 2 grade levels behind. She is a hands-on visual learner, and doesn't do well with just listening or looking at an example. She can go through the motions, but doesn't really understand what she is doing, nor does she typically ever remember what she needs to.

We know that TT, MUS, Saxon and Math in Focus do not work. I'm considering RightStart Math.

She has some slight ADD tendencies- can't focus for very long, tends to wander in thought rather than paying attention to the lesson.

She also has retention issues, but otherwise an excellent reading and writing skills.

Any thoughts or recommendations?  TIA!


*Edited to say- I did post this on the K-8 board, and they suggested I post it here as well.

Edited by homeschoolmama37
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Have you looked at Christian Light Education? (CLE)


Yep! RightStart is my first choice, but I'm reluctant because of price, and CLE is my second choice after that.


What do you like about CLE? Is it a good fit for kids struggling with math? I used the 2nd grade level and my daughter did great with it, but towards the end she hit a brick wall with retention and it just sort of fell apart. She ended up in tears, feeling very overwhelmed. I know what to do in that situation- I would stop and just meet her where she's at with math instruction.

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You mention in your other thread that you're getting testing this summer.  Do you know what they'll be doing and when? I'm just trying to think how long a gap we have there.  


Any speech issues?  Any standardized test scores?


RightStart has some good manips (I used it with dd), but Ronit Bird is much stronger and more thorough as methodology.  Wouldn't bother with CLE for a hands-on learner.


You're saying hands-on, but have you tried experiential, context-based?  Have you seen the Family Math books?  How does that stuff go with her?  Does she understand word problems?

Edited by OhElizabeth
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I would want some testing to sort out possible ADHD or anxiety (or both). Anxiety is very hard on academics. ADHD can exacerbate it--it makes everything more difficult, and then anxiety kicks in when it's so hard to keep things going. A lot of times, kids can keep it together up to a point, and then they just fatigue. It comes across as "sometimes inattentive." Or, you could have an SLD in math causing some anxiety. Anxiety can cause meltdowns, avoidance, inattention, etc. 


You might try supplementing some with Education Unboxed videos. You watch them, then teach her. They are free--you just need a pretty big set of rods and base ten flats.


Please, please, please get vision and hearing checked. The vision would be checked by a developmental optometrist (COVD.org), ideally. Hearing with an audiologist (not the school or the pediatrician--they don't screen thoroughly enough to catch subtle problems). The fact that she can LISTEN, and she can LOOK, but nothing comes together until she DOES it, and she can't look, listen, do all at the same time is a clue to what is going on. That clue points in multiple directions though! It can be a preferred modality for learning, or it can be a symptom. 


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With testing, they will start with the Woodcock Johnson tests and move on from there. I always test my kids with the online CAT, and her scores are consistently at grade level or above, except for reading comprehension with is slightly lower than grade level and math with is significantly lower than grade level.


Her vision issues were supposedly addressed when we went to our state university optometrist office and they diagnosed her with convergence insufficiency. We worked on vision therapy for a couple of years and it seemed to work. We've moved to a regular optometrist and she does wear glasses.


No speech issues at all. Hearing test? Beyond whatever was done at the newborn stage, we've never had any hearing tests done because she has never displayed any symptoms of hearing issues. But I can mention it to our pcp and see if we can have it done just to see what the results are. It depends on whether or not insurance will pay, honestly.


As far as testing goes, I am not using our school district at all. I have no interest in working with them as they have typically been difficult to work with even when sending in a simple NOI letter. They like to exhibit control to make sure we know who's in charge. ;)


I've never heard of Ronit Bird or Family Math books but I will look those up. RightStart is my top choice, but I'm reluctant because of price and just because it seems more different than anything we've ever tried. Which might be good, I don't know.


I believe based on my reading that both of my children have ADD tendencies, though we never have had a formal diagnosis for either child. Our oldest is 19 and we just graduated him. He always did well with school work, but had the tendency to be highly distractible. Now my daughter is showing some of those same symptoms and I've never paid attention to those before.


Anxiety? I'm certain of math anxiety. If that's a real thing. Though she can very timid and shy, in a group of people she's comfortable with, she can have a great time.

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A quick thought: the other day I mentioned to her MUS, and that I thought maybe the blocks and the video teaching might help. She told me that when she watched the videos, she didn't understand most of his teaching.


But what if I use MUS and teach it to her myself without using the videos?


The problem, however, has been that she usually doesn't comprehend what I am telling her. Is that a hearing issue or a comprehension issue of some kind?


She said she learns best by "doing".  ???? When she said that, my thoughts went immediately to Miquon- this a program that really has no teaching as kids "discover" math on their own. So I thought I would take her through the Miquon books over the summer and into the fall and see how she does.



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Anxiety doesn't have to be across the board--she can be anxious about math and exhibit behaviors because of it during math. It's kind of a bonus--the kind you don't want. :-)


Our COVD optometrist is the optometrist who follows up on yearly vision checks for our kids. I think recurrence is unusual, but she doesn't leave that to chance.


I think it's very reasonable to MUS together or watch the videos and teach it yourself (that's how it's designed). It might not be the magic bullet, but it's very much worth trying. Miquon is also good, but I think you need to monitor for understanding. But, it might be just perfect (I love Miquon!). 


With hearing, you might look to see if CAPD is a possibility given that memory for things is not so great (for some CAPD kids, listening is like watching water seep through your fingers--it's so hard to listen and perceive that remembering is impossible), and given that she doesn't seem to be able to use language to learn--here are some links: 






The big think with auditory processing is that you can have one single difficulty that is really impairing--it's not like the more symptoms you have, the worse you have it or more likely you are to have it. 


You might also consider language testing with an SLP to find out how her receptive language is. A speech person can run something like the CELF or CASL for that. They have other tests as well.

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kbutton-  Thank you!! I will check these links out and see what I can come up with. I am excited to get the testing process started. We had hoped to do it sooner because it was expensive, but then someone mentioned checking with our pcp also. So that's my next step, but her well visit won't be until later this summer.


As for language testing- what is a SLP? And what tests are the CELF and the CASL? Thanks!

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SLP = speech language pathologist


CELF and CASL test roughly the same things, but CASL is longer test with more categories, and it sometimes preferred if CAPD is suspected or diagnosed.




BTW, SCAN 3 is usually the test that screens for CAPD with additional follow-up testing if needed. Some psychs and SLPs can run a computerized version of the SCAN 3 with decent results, but the gold standard is a booth test with an audiologist. 



As you get results, I would encourage you to check out The Coffee Klatch radio network. They have podcasts and archived radio shows on a huge variety of learning issues (both for low and high IQs in addition to specific learning problems). The podcasts are easier to scroll through than the radio archives. 

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Yeah, the WJ isn't enough to sort this out, so unless the person running it can do complete testing (IQ, CELF, etc. etc.), I'd consider moving on.  Sometimes tutors will run the WJ because it has so many subtests.  You really want the WISC and the full psych eval, not just the WJ.


I would want language testing by SLP or neuropsych (either can do it, SLP will be cheaper), an APD screening by an audiologist with a full booth set-up using the screening portion of the SCAN3, and an IQ so you can put the achievement scores in perspective.  Hopefully that will be enough to sort things out.


I used RightStart for my dd, who has only ADHD, but for my ds with SLD math Ronit Bird is MUCH better.  Besides, RightStart is too young.  Really, A-E are the equivalent of getting through 4th grade math.  If you've got a bright dc needing that, you have SLD math.  And you've got SLD math, move on to Ronit Bird.  It's like the difference between Barton and SWR/WRTR.  You just move up to something with more tools, more methods, more ways to connect.  Ronit Bird is BRILLIANT.  I repped for RS at conventions and I LIKE RS.  I'm just saying for SLD math, move on.  

Edited by OhElizabeth
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oddly enough my dd13 is loving ace math!!  We also tried TT and mus and just wasn't working.  she likes the colorful pages and the small packets. They introduce things slowly and it is mastery in a way, but a HUGE amount of repetition.  My daughter works almost 3 years behind in math but we are actually making progress with ACE!!!

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Quick comment re MUS. Dd 9 with add could not figure it out with the videos, but did fine with me teaching it. The videos went too fast, and she needs to move the manipulatives herself. Make sure you do a placement test for MUS if you decide to use it. The weird sequence usually puts kids at a pretty low level, but that's great for review.

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  • 1 month later...

You might also consider BJU.  Tons of work with manips.  Some are paper manips, but I substitute with the real thing where possible (base 10 blocks, clocks, rulers, etc.).  I think it's easier to enter BJU closer to grade level than other programs, too.  You can teach directly to her and will be able to see if she's "getting it" or not.  They have a CD with the teacher manual for extra help sheets, too.  And there's a review book if you need more review.


Hope this helps, 


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I was just skimming and I didn't read passed where you said the videos don't make sense to her (mus).


Has she ever been checked for possible auditory processing ?

You have to specifically ask an it really needs to be done by an audiologist. If someone else does it...the results can b vastly different .


How is she with other things like, books on audio, even read aloud?

Does she comprehend (really comprehend ) audio books and when you read to her?


Just, something to be aware of and think about.

Watch for it and see. Put on audiobooks and ask detailed questions to see if she truly understood the words.

Edited by Kat w
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