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Which Pre-Algebra for this math-challenged kiddo?


diaperjoys
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We're almost ready to move into Pre-Algebra. This is for a very brilliant, but seriously math-challenged ADHD child.

 

He can learn math, but it takes a looong time for new concepts to lock into his long term memory. We learned this the hard way when he was younger. In his elementary years, if we stopped math for more than two weeks he'd literally lose half a year of skills. Not the typical rustiness that is normal - the skills were simply gone and needed to be retaught. 

 

Now that he's finishing 7th grade (using Teaching Textbooks 7), his long division skills and multiplication facts finally seem locked into his long term memory, and he's working with fractions, percents, and decimals. But the fractions/percents/decimals are by no means solid yet. He's doing it, but I know that if we walk away and left it for a month he'd lose half a year.

 

So, we need a Pre-Algebra program that will work those concepts like crazy, and help him to gain fluency before he tackles Algebra. Ideas? Suggestions?

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1.  Run him through Key to Fractions/Decimals/Percents.

2.  Sign him up for CTC math (through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op) and have him work at whatever level he needs to get reinforcement.  The student has access to all levels of math from kinder through Calculus and can repeat lessons as many times as they want since the lessons generate new problems every time.

3.  Consider maybe starting him with Math U See if you need mastery based or CLE if you want spiral, but give him the placement tests since they both run differently than TT.

 

Be prepared for him to test into a lower level than Pre-Algebra.  TT can be a great program for a lot of kids but for kids that need a lot of very targeted review and significant ongoing practice it can be a waste.  Lots of concepts never get cemented.

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There are many 8th grade math options before pre-algebra. Also, TT7 is probably more like 5th-6th grade math in most other programs, so you could re-do 7th grade math with something like CLE. I would at least give him the CLE placement test. CLE is spiral so it would keep reviewing things - however, for some students there is not enough practice on the new topic to really sink in. 

 

Maybe Math U See would work for your student (again, try a placement test). It's straightforward and there are systematic review pages in each lesson. My son is doing geometry and the pace is slow and gentle - one little bit at a time with lots of review.

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I have one with severe ADHD who struggled mightily with math. He used Rod and Staff. 7 and 8 are prealg. It's mastery style with a review at the end of every lesson that cycles through old concepts.

 

He went on to use MUS in high school.

 

I do NOT think MUS *prealg* is a good idea for yours unless he has used MUS all along. It's a catchall for the random topics that were missed during the extreme mastery of their elementary series.

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Wow except for the ADHD this sounds a lot like my DD. Seriously it takes forever for things to get locked in long term memory. I was in a similar place a year or so ago, and we decided to do MM 7 as our main math for pre Algebra this year and we have also been working through the Key to series as review math. So she spends 30-45 minutes on the regular program and other 10-20 on the review/supplement keys to series daily. I try to break it up and keep it close to an hour total.

 

Seems to be working so far. I am hoping we get fractions, decimals and percents solidly down this year and I may use a second pre Algebra next year as well, at least for the first half of the year. I know a lot of the new concepts from this year may need a review before we move on. Alternatively, we may move on to algebra very slowly over two years in 8th-9th while using a supplemental review program on some pre Algebra topics. Not sure yet.

 

Either way I don't think pushing too hard or too fast is a good plan for this type of child. The holes and forgotten knowledge will cause frustration later in higher math. I am always creating my own type of review plan to try and get this info into her long term memory and it will eventually stick, but it definitely takes longer than other types of learners. Spiral programs caused my daughter frustration in elementary grades when too many topics were reviewed and she couldn't keep up and remember all the rules. So we have always done a mastery type program with a general plan of learning one new topic and also having one review topic going on at a time.

 

We have had success with Math U See, Math Mammoth (moves a little faster so I have to slow it down sometimes) and the Key to Series (really helpful). Not sure if he is a highly hands on or visual spatial learner like my daughter, but if he is math manipulatives and drawings still really help her even in pre Algebra. It helps it stick if she can see the picture or build it. This is actually often a strength in math later if you can make it through the arithmetic. Hope this helps!

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I have one with severe ADHD who struggled mightily with math. He used Rod and Staff. 7 and 8 are prealg. It's mastery style with a review at the end of every lesson that cycles through old concepts.

 

Can you tell me more about the R&S review? I've avoided mastery programs because I (now) know he has to be completely retaught if we leave a subject for long. And yet, when we go to something like CLE he is completely overwhelmed by all the different types of problems and it takes hours and drama/trauma to get through. 

 

So, with R&S, I'm wondering how tightly does that review cycle through? Are concepts left untouched for a week? Three weeks? Too much review (CLE) and he'll be overwhelmed to the point of non-function. Too little review and everything needs to be retaught all over again.

 

I need the review to be built into the program. I'm dealing with too many grades, too many special needs to have to track and create review problems for him.

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I second the Key to Fractions, Decimals, and Percents. This is a really solid workbook program that WORKS. My kids are using it as their core curriculum for math.

 

When you use these, do you work through all three titles simultaneously? We've used the Fractions series - when TT was getting too challenging I had him stop and just do the first several booklets. They were okay, but I don't think he had any "lightbulb moments". After a few weeks I had him jump back into TT. And, he still struggles with GCF, for example, despite having completed that booklet twice. He just has to work with the concepts again and again before it finally gets solid.

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How do you think TT works for him in general?  If it's a good fit overall, I'd stick with it and just add in the Key To Books.  We actually set aside TT for a bit and just focused on the Key To books.  They are very good! 

 

I think it is an "okay" fit, but probably time to move on. We started using TT when he was in a christian school, it was mid-year, and he was getting bogged down with Saxon. New concepts were coming on fast and thick, and he just couldn't keep up. The immediate feedback of TT is fantastic for him - he instantly knows if he got the problem right or wrong. And if it is wrong, he can try one more time to find the right answer. 

 

However, as far as overall mastery of concepts, I think it is time to switch to something else. He needs to learn to show his work, he needs to see things presented a little differently, he needs to work at the concepts from a different angle. I love the automated grading of TT, but I don't think it will take him where he needs to go.

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I think it is an "okay" fit, but probably time to move on. We started using TT when he was in a christian school, it was mid-year, and he was getting bogged down with Saxon. New concepts were coming on fast and thick, and he just couldn't keep up. The immediate feedback of TT is fantastic for him - he instantly knows if he got the problem right or wrong. And if it is wrong, he can try one more time to find the right answer. 

 

However, as far as overall mastery of concepts, I think it is time to switch to something else. He needs to learn to show his work, he needs to see things presented a little differently, he needs to work at the concepts from a different angle. I love the automated grading of TT, but I don't think it will take him where he needs to go.

 Fair enough. :)  We are considering adding CLE for a "different angle" approach.  I like the TT lectures, but we use the text.  So they watch the lecture, work the practice problems and then work everything out with paper, as recommended.  We don't bother putting the answers into the computer as suggested though.  It means I do correcting, but I don't have to worry about them "gaming" the system. 

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Both the TT and the MUS Pre-algebra programs include a lot of review on decimals and percents. You may want to look at the scope and sequence for each one to see if they would fit your son's needs. (I actually specifically narrowed down my choices to those two Pre-Alg programs when my oldest was ready to move on because I felt he needed more review. He ended up choosing MUS. I also picked up a used copy of the DVD for MUS Epsilon, so that he could see the ways that MUS teaches fractions. Whenever he needed a refresher for a fraction concept, we could watch the teaching segment from the Epsilon DVD.)

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I'll second the idea of R&S 7 and then 8.  It has been a very good program for all of mine, but very, very good for my two that need gobs and gobs of review in math.  There is oral review in the Teacher's Manual--don't skip this step-- and review in each lesson.  There are usually 10-15 problems at the beginning of each lesson that pertain to the new concept, and then 20 - 30 problems of review. You could just do odds or evens if the amount of problems is overwhelming, and still get varied practice in what is needed.   

 

 You can see samples at Milestone Books: Grade 7,  and Grade 8.

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When you use these, do you work through all three titles simultaneously? We've used the Fractions series - when TT was getting too challenging I had him stop and just do the first several booklets. They were okay, but I don't think he had any "lightbulb moments". After a few weeks I had him jump back into TT. And, he still struggles with GCF, for example, despite having completed that booklet twice. He just has to work with the concepts again and again before it finally gets solid.

Yes, my children work through the books in order. We don't use any other curriculum. In our experience, it gives them a firm grasp on the concepts being taught. It starts out simple, assuming your child knows nothing about fractions (or decimals or whatever), and it eventually gets challenging. It works well for my kids and gives them plenty of practice. My daughter can do fractions in her sleep now.

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Can you tell me more about the R&S review? I've avoided mastery programs because I (now) know he has to be completely retaught if we leave a subject for long. And yet, when we go to something like CLE he is completely overwhelmed by all the different types of problems and it takes hours and drama/trauma to get through. 

 

So, with R&S, I'm wondering how tightly does that review cycle through? Are concepts left untouched for a week? Three weeks? Too much review (CLE) and he'll be overwhelmed to the point of non-function. Too little review and everything needs to be retaught all over again.

 

I need the review to be built into the program. I'm dealing with too many grades, too many special needs to have to track and create review problems for him.

 

It sounds like you're talking about mine. LOL Mine could NOT function with spiral programs. Yeah, small problem sets, but there were so many transitions when he just got going and he couldn't cope. When he finally gets the focus rolling it needs a track to stay on or all hope is lost.

R&S is mastery within the chapters. Today's concept is a building block for tomorrow's and so on. The whole lesson focuses on one main concept at a time. There are 3-5 or so concepts from old lessons in a review section, usually just a few of each. It's not overwhelming. I can't remember specific week volumes though. (This DC graduates in a few months; it's been awhile.) Mine breathed a sigh of relief when he made it to the review section. It was a cool down of sorts for him. For mine it worked and I so wished we'd found it sooner for him.

 

We repeated difficult chapters if he couldn't pull a decent score on the chapter review. When that happened I made him repeat every lesson in that chapter, but on that second pass he could do odds or evens of easier lessons if he could demonstrate mastery *and* teach the concept back to me.

 

I made him do that oral lesson in the TM with me, and checked for comprehension on the oral/class problems before setting him loose on the lesson. He had to do every problem of every lesson. No skipping. It the math was really challenging him I'd let him do odds of a lesson one day and evens the next, but just doing half of any lesson bit us in the butt every time.

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I have one with severe ADHD who struggled mightily with math. He used Rod and Staff. 7 and 8 are prealg. It's mastery style with a review at the end of every lesson that cycles through old concepts.

 

He went on to use MUS in high school.

 

I do NOT think MUS *prealg* is a good idea for yours unless he has used MUS all along. It's a catchall for the random topics that were missed during the extreme mastery of their elementary series.

 

I had him take the MUS pretest today - and the other kids, too. The results were much worse than I had anticipated. For all of them. My ADHD kiddo that we've been discussing aced the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma sections. But on Delta, he missed two (out of six), Epsilon he got only one right (out of 8), and Zeta he got two right (out of 7). 

 

Clearly, we have a great deal of work to do. But how best to go about it? I'm thinking of using MUS, not their prealg, but the lower levels. Maybe start with Delta? (sigh...) He could whiz through the parts where he's solid, and slow down on the parts where he is not getting it. If I have him write in a notebook instead of the workbooks, one of the younger sibs could use the book after him so it wouldn't be so cost prohibitive. This kind of narrow, focused work is hard to do with the curricula that tightly spiral, but just might work with MUS.

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It sounds like you're talking about mine. LOL Mine could NOT function with spiral programs. Yeah, small problem sets, but there were so many transitions when he just got going and he couldn't cope. When he finally gets the focus rolling it needs a track to stay on or all hope is lost.

R&S is mastery within the chapters. Today's concept is a building block for tomorrow's and so on. The whole lesson focuses on one main concept at a time. There are 3-5 or so concepts from old lessons in a review section, usually just a few of each. It's not overwhelming. I can't remember specific week volumes though. (This DC graduates in a few months; it's been awhile.) Mine breathed a sigh of relief when he made it to the review section. It was a cool down of sorts for him. For mine it worked and I so wished we'd found it sooner for him.

 

We repeated difficult chapters if he couldn't pull a decent score on the chapter review. When that happened I made him repeat every lesson in that chapter, but on that second pass he could do odds or evens of easier lessons if he could demonstrate mastery *and* teach the concept back to me.

 

I made him do that oral lesson in the TM with me, and checked for comprehension on the oral/class problems before setting him loose on the lesson. He had to do every problem of every lesson. No skipping. It the math was really challenging him I'd let him do odds of a lesson one day and evens the next, but just doing half of any lesson bit us in the butt every time.

Just saw this - I think we posted at the same time. I'm not sure how to place him in R&S, if we use that. I went back and looked at several grades, but finding an entry point seemed pretty tricky. If I'm remembering right, there were things even in level 4 that would be challenging. That might be just what we need to do, though. It is the constant repetition of the same material in different ways that has gotten him even this far.

 

In the early years, before I realized what happened during a break, we'd lose a grade or half a grade of data - like a delete button went off somewhere inside him. So when I retaught it I'd usually grab another curricula, and we'd run through the concepts again, from a different angle. We could go quite a bit faster the second or third time around. Eventually it worked. But, I was really hoping that by simply preventing the delete in the first place, that we could avoid the problem. But it looks like we just need to suck it up and take another running start at fractions and decimals and everything in between.

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Unfortunately there's no placement test for R&S. You'd have to use the TOC and do your best guess. The early years start slow, but by grade 4 it has a pretty standard scope and sequence. Similar to Saxon. The first couple/few chapters tend to review the important parts of previous years before plowing into new material.

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All this discussion has made me re-evaluate all the kids' math progress. R&S would have worked decently for review for the kiddo we've been talking about (DS1), but when I went to the homeschool store yesterday I could only find one level. I found several levels of MUS, though, which I think will be a hand/glove fit for DS3, who has another "brand" of ADHD, and would never be able to tolerate R&S.

 

I got several levels of MUS TM's, DVDs and test booklets for DS3, and I can use them to review/remediate/reteach DS1. Hopefully we can get him firmed up enough so he can proceed into Algebra/Pre-algebra and be solid. 

 

Thanks for all the help!

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 If your child has difficulties transferring problems to paper, R&S may not be a good fit. Otherwise it is a good program.

 

Exactly. If R&S was a workbook program, we'd be good to go. But copywork has been a big problem for DS3. Vision therapy helped, but R&S would be begging for a train wreck. In comparison to MUS, the R&S pages are busy and visually complex.

 

I really think MUS is a hand/glove fit for DS3, and sections of it will help DS1 gain some traction for decimals/fractions. 

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