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When kiddo gets sideways on math due to small errors

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I don't know how best to manage this. My son is finishing 6th grade. My aim is to increase his independence, because our future as homeschoolers is probably not longer than the coming year or two at the most. So I would *like* to be able to have him complete two pages of math without taking a billion years OR getting bogged down with some careless error that ends up screwing up the entire problem. If I'm sitting close at hand, I can usually see he is barking up the wrong tree before he gets all screwed up. BUT! I am trying to NOT do that so much!

 

We use MUS. I love that curriculum and have no issue with it and no interest in trying a different curriculum. He understands the concepts of math just fine. He is bright and catches on quickly, but he is also easily distracted and his focus wanes, especially on more tedious multi-step problem. That's when he makes some mistake in subtraction, say, that causes the whole problem to skew.

 

Any ideas?

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I found that sitting across the room with the answer key and having my son tell me his answers as he went helped him go more quickly.  I would just say whether he got something right or wrong and he would need to find his mistake.  If he couldn't figure it out after a few tries, I would then lead him through the problem ("Ok, what did you do first?" etc) and that would usually help him catch it.

 

Actually, he's at the ps now, and I *still* do that.

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Have him estimate, answers for each step? Doesn't solve all the problems, but it can help with some. 

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Sounds weird, but try math at a different point in your day. Sometimes it seems their brains work better at certain points in the day than others. It's an easy thing to try. 9:30 am is currently the sweet spot at our house. It used to be just after lunch.

Edited by texasmom33
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Sounds weird, but try math at a different point in your day. Sometimes it seems their brains work better at certain points in the day than others. It's an easy thing to try. 9:30 am is currently the sweet spot at our house. It used to be just after lunch.

I may try this.

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I get up and walk away when ds is being like this. And if it takes him longer, so be it. One thing that has helped my ds is that he sees it's an issue and he decided he wanted to reward himself to keep himself on track, so he'll ask if he can do two chocolate chips or a jelly bean per problem. Sometimes he lines them all up on the page and - no joke - does a little dance in his seat as he eats them. I think it helps that it's his own scheme for improved focus. If I imposed it, it might not work so well (also, it's honestly not my kind of scheme). Maybe you can talk to him about it.

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Sounds weird, but try math at a different point in your day. Sometimes it seems their brains work better at certain points in the day than others. It's an easy thing to try. 9:30 am is currently the sweet spot at our house. It used to be just after lunch.

 

 

Problem with that is that OP is planning to send her kid to PS in 1-2 years... at which point, "when to do math" is largely out of their control. But other than that, there are times when my oldest seems to be sloppier than other times.

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careless mistakes are a typical problem at that age. Give him tools that will help him with more attention to detail:

graph paper

write one equation per line only, no run-on equations; next equation goes underneath with equal signs aligned

use colored pencils for signs and parentheses

plenty of space for each problem; trying to do math in cramped space for a problem causes sloppiness

 

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careless mistakes are a typical problem at that age. Give him tools that will help him with more attention to detail:

graph paper

write one equation per line only, no run-on equations; next equation goes underneath with equal signs aligned

use colored pencils for signs and parentheses

plenty of space for each problem; trying to do math in cramped space for a problem causes sloppiness

Those are very good ideas and much appeal to my need for order. :) Thanks!

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Problem with that is that OP is planning to send her kid to PS in 1-2 years... at which point, "when to do math" is largely out of their control. But other than that, there are times when my oldest seems to be sloppier than other times.

 

I think some of it has to do with maturity, so hopefully in one to two years, this is less of an issue. But even in public school, at least in my experience, most kids don't get a chance to do their work in class anymore in jr. high or high school. They get the lecture, the assignment, possibly have a few minutes to work on it, but then they're on to the next class. So if in a B&M school, a student can decide if they want to do their work in the afternoon immediately following class, or some kids prefer to get up early and do it before school. They don't have the freedom of the whole day like homeschooling, but they do have some control over when they do what. 

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Sounds weird, but try math at a different point in your day. Sometimes it seems their brains work better at certain points in the day than others. It's an easy thing to try. 9:30 am is currently the sweet spot at our house. It used to be just after lunch.

I did actually do this, today, combined with a couple other ideas here. He did math last today. I also had him check with me after each question or different parts of multi-step problems and it helped him see his mistakes more quickly. I was like, "look - see this part? Six minus six. What is that supposed to be?" Then he goes, "Oh! I put a six by accident!"

 

I didn't have graph paper handy today, but he did do a better job of putting his work in a logical order on the scratch paper. So I do think graph paper will help a lot.

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I see you've met my child.

 

Having them get poor scores due to silly mistakes that aren't conceptual and then flip out about it, over and over? Maddening.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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I allow mine to make mistakes and then circle the incorrect problems. The next day they fix the problems they got wrong. If we do it that day there is Drama because she gets stuck on the one way she did it. The next morning she is open enough to check the problem for errors. I'm okay with silly mistakes. But I do believe she should correct hem too. 😛

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I have a kid like this and it does bother me. Mostly because I remember several kids at school like this and the reality wasn't that pretty. They got low grades. Probably if they'd had someone sitting with them keeping them focused they might have learned more. 😕

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I don't know how best to manage this. My son is finishing 6th grade. My aim is to increase his independence, because our future as homeschoolers is probably not longer than the coming year or two at the most. So I would *like* to be able to have him complete two pages of math without taking a billion years OR getting bogged down with some careless error that ends up screwing up the entire problem. If I'm sitting close at hand, I can usually see he is barking up the wrong tree before he gets all screwed up. BUT! I am trying to NOT do that so much!

 

We use MUS. I love that curriculum and have no issue with it and no interest in trying a different curriculum. He understands the concepts of math just fine. He is bright and catches on quickly, but he is also easily distracted and his focus wanes, especially on more tedious multi-step problem. That's when he makes some mistake in subtraction, say, that causes the whole problem to skew.

 

Any ideas?

I gave my kid these guidelines:

 

Read the question carefully.

Check your work after each step.

Answer the question asked (not some other question you wish they had asked).

 

Since we started doing this the careless error rate has really dropped.

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