# Need an alternative to xtramath for 9 year old daughter

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Hi Everyone,

My daughter (age 9, 4th grade) has dyslexia and ADHD and other learning challenges. She has always had a very hard time retaining information even after a lot of drill and various modes of input/review.

She is having a very hard time becoming fluent in her math facts.   We have been using xtra math most days since 1st grade, and it just isn't helping.   (Her fluency has actually gone down!)   We has also tried a more visual/right brain approach using the time tales dvd and stories.   That also wasn't very effective.   I've also tried inputting all of the facts into ANKI so we could take advantage of their spaced repetition review.   However, that wasn't effectual either.

I've been talking to some people who know my daughter well, and they have advised that "mixing" up facts might be really hard for my daughter.   They think that all of these other tools I have been using have introduced mixed review too soon.    They advised that we skip count for a LONG time until it becomes very easy for her.   (Example:  3, 6, 9, 12....)    Then, when that is really easy for her, we then drill the facts in order for a long time.  (3X1=3, 3X2=6, 3X3=9....)   Then, only when that becomes VERY easy for her, would we do a mixed review.  They suggest we work through all of the numbers from 1 to 10 in this manner.   (She already has down Os, 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s.)

Does anyone know of an app or tool that drills facts in ORDER?   Or perhaps a skip counting tool?   I can do this all the old fashioned way, but the app is helpful because it keeps track of progress for me.

Thanks for the help!

Cathy

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I don't, actually, but I agree, based on what has worked best for my DD, skip counting is a huge help here so stay with that and definitely work on one fact for an extended period before shifting to another fact.  Also, have her create a math chart every week or two for multiplication facts so she can start to see the relationship between the numbers.

But also, don't get too hung up on math fact fluency.  While it is really helpful to have (really helpful), and I would continue to work on it, this is not the be all and end all of existence.  Truly.  Lots of people never successfully memorize all of their math facts and are still successful as adults.

Examples:

DH does not have all of his math facts memorized.  He is still a very successful engineer.

I do not have all of my math facts memorized.  I run the business finances for the family business and was commended by my mother's CPA for how I have taken care of everything since my dad passed away.

My brother in law does not have his math facts memorized.  He is also a successful engineer.

My mom was never able to memorize all of her math facts but she did very well as a High School Reading Specialist.

A nurse friend of mine has learning challenges, never was able to memorize her math facts, but is excellent at skip counting.  Super fast.  She was able to use that to pass standardized tests and is a very successful nurse.  She also teaches nursing classes at the college.  She says that the best possible skill someone can have as a nurse is understanding the numbers and their relationship to each other, NOT rote memorization of math facts.  Calculators can do math facts but a calculator cannot think logically about the numbers.  That is where the human brain can excel.  Logical thinking and understanding number concepts/relationships is far more important, in her honest opinion.

In fact, she demonstrated something to me that really helped me see what she was talking about.  She knows that DD has dyslexia also has dyscalculia.  Math is HARD for DD.  And memorizing math facts is really, really challenging for her.  The nurse friend gave her a puzzle she gives all of her incoming newbie nursing students.  They have to take medication that is in one type of measurement and convert it to another type of measurement to be able to administer the correct dosage since the doctor's orders are written for one kind of measurement and the medication is distributed a different way to hospitals.  DD looked at the word problem and was like a dear in headlights.  Nurse looked at her, told her to draw out the items involved and just THINK about what was being asked.  DD drew out the two different items of medication.  Light bulb went off.  She knew the answer.  The nurse said 90% of incoming students insist they cannot do the problem without a conversion chart to convert between the two measurement systems.  DD realized that you don't need a conversion chart or any real math at all.  The way the information was provided, if you just sat and thought about it a bit, the solution is based on logic, not math.

What she was trying to say was this:  When a nurse is going to administer your medication, do you want the person who rote memorized their math facts but never really understood the connection between the numbers and/or was never able to think logically about those numbers or would you rather have the other person who might struggle with memorizing math facts but can THINK?  The person that can THINK may look at your dosage and realize the decimal was transposed because the dosage is not logical for a person of your size/body weight.  The person that can THINK about those numbers might realize enough to know something is wrong and ask questions instead of just doing what they were told.  Someone who was never really good at THINKING about numbers but can rattle off their times tables in nothing flat might not question it at all.

Anyway, sorry that got so long winded.

I do wish I knew an app that would track math facts AND work only on one math fact at a time.  Hopefully someone else can provide a suggestion.  Good luck.

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Agree that memorizing math facts is not essential. It's more important that she can figure out her facts within a reasonable amount of time, either by skip counting, adding, or looking at a chart.

I just read some reasarch about retrieval practice. Basically, just the act of trying to remember something builds connections in your brain, whether you remember the right answer or not. There are lots of ways to practice retrieval, like matching addition questions to answers, vocab words to definitions, etc. The most fascinating thing, for me, was that most people do flashcards wrong. When we see a card and we think we know the answer, actually we don't even THINK about it (retrieve it), but just say, oh, yeah, I know that one, and quickly look at the answer. Apparently that's no good... you have to actually think about the answer, SAY IT, and THEN look at the answer.

There was also some research about non-graded quizzes being extremely helpful for learning. You could give your daughter a "quiz" every day on a set of math facts, even if you just write it by hand. The research showed that just the act of being quizzed helped with memory.

You can read more here:  http://www.retrievalpractice.org/

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There are a set amount of pre-skills that need to be mastered prior to multiplication. RB lists them in her book Overcoming Difficulty with Number. I suggest you use Ronit Bird materials to get the pre-skills sorted first, and then go back to multiplication.

ETA: DS used the free MUS online math facts generator for practice.

Edited by Heathermomster
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Rocket math (.com) has a subscription fee. It has skip counting practice (with review of prior learned skip counting facts). There's progressive facts for all operations (+,-, etc), with review. It takes 3 minutes per day.

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So for my kiddo with ADD, xtramath was a disaster. It went way too fast, and was way too frustrating. I went totally old-school with flashcards. We did things that add to 2 (and the subraction facts at the same time) then added 3, 4, etc. to 20. She would practice each new set with blocks until she understood them, made the flash cards and practiced them. Lots of oral word problems. Then we did long practice:

7-4+2-3+1=

I'd let her say the numbers as we went because she couldn't hold all that in her working memory.

This took about 6-8 months, but worked very well. I also would include multiplication and division (groups of).

This is a riff on Grube's method for teaching arithmetic, and it has worked very well for us. She (and my other daughter that I followed the same technique with) have developed a strong mathematical sense, and a good memory for math facts. She still talks about how much she hated the flashcards, but how much she loves math now, so I call it a success.

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