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Noreen Claire

How do you 'move faster' in math?

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DS7 is in 2nd grade and we are using Singapore Math 2 (textbook, workbook, extra practice, and challenging word problems). I have the year planned so that we will finish 2B by the middle of June. I have scheduled 60 minutes into our days, five days/week, for math instruction & practice. However, it almost never takes anywhere near that long to do the day's work. Here's what math looks like here:

 

(5-15 minutes) Together, we will do one section in the textbook, with me modeling and explaining and him answering questions until I am sure that he has pretty much mastered the topic.

(5-20 minutes) He then does the corresponding workbook pages on his own, which I check when he's finished. I add in the extra practice and challenging word problems books here and there, as needed.

 

*We also work on memorizing math facts during morning time and play lots of games that include math during the day.

 

I really think that he could be doing more advanced work, but I'm not sure how to get there from here. Do I assign fewer problems in the workbook? Should I skip workbook work altogether if he's already mastered the topic, and move on to the next section? Should I just have him do more from the word problem book each day, instead of trying to let him move along faster? Something else? I was already planning on getting him Beast Academy for summer. (I intend to keep using Singapore during the school year.)

 

I'm frustrated that I don't know how to answer this myself...

 

(edited for clarity)

Edited by Noreen Claire

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My ds went through MEP 1, 2, and 3 in a year and a half.  I would have him do the puzzles, some of the review, and problems of the new work.  He just didn't need that much time.  I taught the new lessons but after he demonstrated mastery we moved on.  After level 3 it got to the point of ridiculousness and I gave him a math notebook.  Every day I'd write problems that were more challenging to see where he needed to be at.  He finally leveled out for a bit, and I found a gap in his knowledge, but I think if we had continued a curriculum as it was written it would have been..not what he needed.

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We often work through some parts of the A textbook and B textbook at the same time, depending on the concepts in the second half of the year. My kids often bog down a bit in some new concept, but something like graphs or measurement come naturally. I will intersperse things like the graphs and measurement into the early part of the year, and since they quick at it, we end up ahead sometimes.

 

We sometimes skip problems--if my child can do the harder problems, he probably doesn't need the easier ones as long as I'm not skipping the point of the problem (I don't skip a mental math concept, for instance). 

 

I found that my kids get stuck in random places and fly through others--basically, once they have one kind of measurement down, the rest just blazes by. I often can skip to the hardest exercises in those sections. (The only trouble I have with this is that sometimes they'll forget how many cm in a m or something like that because they didn't use it a ton. Eventually it just sticks on its own and hasn't been a big deal.)

 

My kids pick up math facts through use. They are a little slower to do so, but then the facts stick really well. Doing "more" fact work or drilling doesn't help them a lot (though one of mine would break out the c-rods now and then for reinforcement).

 

One of my kids did best with using the TB (hardest problems unless they were struggling with a section), and then going to the IP book. We didn't do the WB at all. He seems to be more of a kid who needs to see the same concept in twenty different contexts, which the IP excels at.

 

My other son is working farther ahead, but we use the workbook more. He struggles more with procedural math (he struggles to do the same thing over and over consistently--he get the concept, but then remembering the steps takes a long time, and he has to practice more to remember the steps--he'd rather do it mentally, lol!). He does like the IP, but I am more selective with what I use it for. He seems to need more steady-as-you-go help, so we use the workbook a lot. When we do use the IP, it's more as enrichment.

 

HTH

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I have used Singapore with all three of my kids. We use the Intensive Practice book instead of the Workbook. I think the problems are more challenging and go deeper. I definitely don't assign every problem. I typically assign half the problems in each section and then all the word problems or more challenging type of problems. For the easier topics we just go very quickly. If it's clear they get the concept then we move on. 

 

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We just used the textbook. Doing this my son was able to move through two levels per year. We used the CWP books a semester to a year behind.

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Here's how we accelerate SM:

 

- Double up a math intensive chapter with one of the ridiculously easy chapters- geometry, clocks, or graphs

- Do more than one lesson in the workbook at a time if the lesson seems easy.  

- I use the TB as an inspiration for me to explain the concept.  We do not do every problem in the TB.  My teaching time is usually less than 5 minutes.  

 

Doing it this way, we have covered between 1.5-2 years of math per school year, though we spent pretty close to a full year at SM4, as it seemed to be a bit of a "keystone" year in terms of challenge and concepts.

 

 

 

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- Double up a math intensive chapter with one of the ridiculously easy chapters- geometry, clocks, or graphs

 

 

This is a FABULOUS idea. I looked through the rest of 2B (he just started it), and if I double-up an easy & hard chapter, he would probably be done the book by the end of April, if not earlier. Thanks!

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Along with doubling up on lessons we never stopped math for a summer break or really any break. Just finished one and moved on to the next. We might have not done math for a few days occasionally but we generally had a book with us and if someone said they were bored they were handed CWP or something similar! ;)

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Another option is to combine regular Singapore with the Challenging Word Problems - work deeper, not faster.

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We have gotten through a year of Singapore (MIF) in as little as 4 months. We usually complete 1 lesson a day; fairly often we combine 2 lessons in a day or skip one, and rarely we spend more than 1 day on a lesson. MIF is paced in the TM to use about 2 days per lesson, so we largely accelerate by going faster.

 

-We use Math Minutes on the same grade level as MIF, so that concepts are constantly reviewed. When we get to them in MIF, we can condense the beginning of the chapter because he doesn't need much of a refresher.

 

-I teach from the book on a white board, and we solve the example problems together (I don't just demonstrate)

 

-Since he has already been involved in solving the problems, we usually skip the textbook practice and go straight to the workbook. (This is how we cut out a day)

 

-I don't make him do the workbook problems at the beginning of a lesson that have him go through all the incremental steps. He can start solving the problems without the scaffolding.

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I have used Singapore with all three of my kids. We use the Intensive Practice book instead of the Workbook. I think the problems are more challenging and go deeper. I definitely don't assign every problem. I typically assign half the problems in each section and then all the word problems or more challenging type of problems. For the easier topics we just go very quickly. If it's clear they get the concept then we move on.

We've used Singapore as one of ou math programs from nearly the beginning. We also use the Intensive Practice book instead of the workbook, but I assign all problems. That slows him down a bit.

I run 2-3 math programs at a time. He's now in 3rd grade, but by the end of this year, he'll have done Miquon yellow and purple, Math Mammoth Multiplication 1 and 2, Division 1 and 2, Singapore Intensive Practice in 4B and 5A, and part of Beast Academy 3.

So, in answer to your question, we do a variety of programs and seek out a combination of challenge and simpler things to give him plenty to keep him busy. He likes math, so we schedule at least an hour a day for it, 5-6 days a week. If he does Prodigy on the computer, he'll do well more than an hour. But, an hour of math with a kid who likes and understands math will definitely require more than one program. And you'll still end up "ahead." :-)

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Everyone has answered your question already, but I just wanted to add that I don't think a 7 yo needs to do math for an hour unless he loves math and is doing fun stuff of his own accord.

 

Just a tip from someone who expected way too much from her oldest kid and had to apologize when he was a teenager...... He doesn't hold it against me thankfully!

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I am following for ideas here too. My ds was doing math at a higher level last summer and he gets concepts and is good with mental math but then went to school and was working below his level and he lost some of his skills. He is not a fast worker. We do more then 1 lesson a day and I scribe for him a lot but I do feel there is probably parts I could skip but it is hard to trust that. I use prodigy for review and other supplements too and that adds to the time spent.

Edited by MistyMountain
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Everyone has answered your question already, but I just wanted to add that I don't think a 7 yo needs to do math for an hour unless he loves math and is doing fun stuff of his own accord.

 

Just a tip from someone who expected way too much from her oldest kid and had to apologize when he was a teenager...... He doesn't hold it against me thankfully!

 

This is a good point. I don't expect him to spend an hour on math text/workbooks every day, as we do so much more math during the rest of the day (games, memorization, general life math, etc). I just think that, if what we are doing only takes 10-15 minutes a day, that he might benefit if I can get him up to a point where it isn't so easy and quick - that he's probably working below level. I want to challenge him, not bore him.

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15 minutes or less is just how long Singapore Math 2 (we're midway through 2B now) takes us generally. I think of this as a tribute to Singapore's approach-- building things incrementally and logically so that each concept is kind of a natural next step. And also, tutoring 1:1 is efficient. So I wonder if this is not so unusual at this particular level? (This is not to say you shouldn't accelerate, but I have always wondered whether this meant we were working at the wrong level or whether this was typical-- like you, my solution has been to add math games and activities elsewhere in our day.)

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I don't time math, but each day I try to teach a new skill or practice a previous tricky skill. So each day is interesting and a little challenging. If I went slower than I do, math would be very boring and redundant. If I went faster, it would be super frustrating and leave gaps. I think you just need to find that sweet spot for your student. If he already knows it or totally gets it right away, move on to the next lesson. If it's hard, slow down. If it's overwhelming, go back.

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I have a very accelerated math student and one of the problems I had with Singapore (which we used briefly after RightStart C) was that there were way too many routine problems. So yes, feel free to skip! If he can work the few hardest problems in each section, it's definitely ok to move on. I think the CWP books are amazing and a great way to combine problem solving with calculation practice though. 

Also totally agree with PP who suggested combining harder worth with easier chapter in a completely different subject!! We do this ALL of the time and its a great way to even out the work load. 

I think you'll find Beast Academy a great fit. There are not a lot of routine problems, but they are masters of circling back around to topics and embedding review into their problems and puzzles (for instance throwing in a perimeter problem that also involves decimals). 

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Everyone has answered your question already, but I just wanted to add that I don't think a 7 yo needs to do math for an hour unless he loves math and is doing fun stuff of his own accord.

 

Just a tip from someone who expected way too much from her oldest kid and had to apologize when he was a teenager...... He doesn't hold it against me thankfully!

I totally agree with the above. And I would caution you to examine your reasons for wanting him to be ahead. My oldest is advanced in math because she NEEDED to be. Here is how it worked... When we did a chapter on two digit addition with carrying, first, we did only the number of problems she needed to do to show mastery. She gets math really quickly so it usually didn't take long. Then when she had that figured out, usually in just one lesson, I'd say, "And look, you can do the same thing with numbers as big as you want. And you can add columns of more than two numbers the same way. Try some challenge problems, get them all correct and move on. Then when the more advanced topics were taught later, we had already covered them. We'd go straight to the chapter test and if we needed to cover something we would go back and do so. She always asked for more math. She really enjoyed math and asked for more unless it was boring (which was only when it wasn't challenging). When the first Beast Academy came out in April of her first grade year, we were so relieved. She needed the challenge. She wanted it. The challenge kept her interested in math.

 

My younger daughter is not advanced. She likes math (which is important to me) and we move at the pace that she needs. She will finish Beast Academy 3D this May at the end of her third grade year. We spend what I would consider a reasonable amount of time on math for a third grader (usually thirty minutes or less). If she gets frustrated, we just put it away. The next day, we pick it up with fresh eyes and that usually resolves the frustration. Sometimes she is having such a good time, she asks to do a little more.

 

My goal when we finish elementary math is to have a very strong foundation without creating dislike. For my oldest, I can totally say that we met this goal. So far, so good with my youngest.

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... She always asked for more math. She really enjoyed math and asked for more unless it was boring (which was only when it wasn't challenging).... 

 

This is the thing, right here. If he's doing something that is challenging, he's really excited and into it and wants more. If it's boring, he does the assigned portion of his work quickly and runs away. Currently, he's not being challenged. I'm not trying to force him to be ahead, I just want him working on something more challenging - something that is worth his time. We started doubling up easier/harder lessons yesterday, and he seemed pleased to be getting the easy stuff out of the way. We will take it one day at a time.

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My kid who needs to move faster in math does so by simply moving faster. Last year she could rip through two whole lessons, completing e.v.e.r.y. problem in less than 30 minutes and call it boring and stupid.  This year she's a year ahead in a book plenty use a grade behind and still flying through it. It's just how she operates. If the challenge is too low it's boring and stupid, but if it's too hard there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Finding her sweet spot is a chore. :p

 

For another kid who was bored (without the bad attitude mentioned above LOL) I could just skip a handful of lessons when it was too easy. That kept her on her toes because she didn't know quite everything inside out and backwards. She was using a spiral course though, so old concepts kept looping through. I'm not sure this would work in a mastery book.

 

 

In both cases I didn't schedule out their math. We just did math every day and went however far they went.

Edited by SilverMoon
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In both cases I didn't schedule out their math. We just did math every day and went however far they went.

 

This is my problem - I come from a public school background (I taught HS math until I DS5 was born). My experience was to figure out where the students needed to be at the end of the year and then schedule it. At home, this works for spelling, handwriting, history, etc, but it isn't working for *him* for math. I just needed help getting my head around the logistics of how to accommodate his needs.

 

We aren't 'do the next thing' people. I am a scheduler at heart and he thrives on structure. I write out his daily assignments in a notebook that he works from during the day. Combining an easier topic with a harder topic looks like it might fit the bill. I will still have to schedule it, and write it out in his assignment book. 

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This is my problem - I come from a public school background (I taught HS math until I DS5 was born). My experience was to figure out where the students needed to be at the end of the year and then schedule it. At home, this works for spelling, handwriting, history, etc, but it isn't working for *him* for math. I just needed help getting my head around the logistics of how to accommodate his needs.

 

We aren't 'do the next thing' people. I am a scheduler at heart and he thrives on structure. I write out his daily assignments in a notebook that he works from during the day. Combining an easier topic with a harder topic looks like it might fit the bill. I will still have to schedule it, and write it out in his assignment book. 

The other thing we do that you might want to try is to split up math into two tracks - regular math and math laboratory. Our regular math is just working from the book (currently AOPS Intro to Algebra with some work from the Number Theory and Counting and Probability books). Math laboratory is where I introduce fun topics that are outside of the norm with no agenda or goal. 

 

For instance right now in math laboratory we're doing a unit on taxicab geometry and in the past we've done units on Knight and Knave puzzles, tessellations, sets, digital logic design, graph and map coloring, cryptography, writing Scratch and Python math games, etc.  I pull from a variety of resources including Martin Gardner, books like Time Travel Math, Dover books on Mathematics, etc. The main advantage of math lab, aside from fun, is that DS can explore different and advanced math topics at his own pace without worrying about achievement. If he hates something we drop it, if he loves it we keep going. It also easily doubles the amount of math time we do in an absolutely painless way. And when he encounters the topics in a more formal setting he already has the intro background so can move at a faster pace. I'm pretty informal about it but math lab is something that lends itself to some planning as you could have a "topic of the week." 

 

Once your son gets into higher level math such as AOPS (including Beast Academy), you may have no choice but to become more of a "do the next thing" homeschool planner. There are days where we've spent 45 minutes on a single challenge problem and other days where we blaze through half a chapter. AOPS just doesn't lend itself to scheduling out X problems/day. We get our structure from just working for 45 min-1 hour every day after breakfast on math rain or shine.

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