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Using math materials a year behind

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Hi everyone, I usually post on the afterschoolers board, but I thought I would get more replies here.


My 9yo DD is in 3rd grade and uses MiF at school. At home, we afterschooled with Miquon and Singapore IP and CWP. After finishing Miquon last year, we added BA. So far, it’s working well!


Right now, we are halfway through IP 3B, 2/3 of the way through CWP 3 and will start BA 3D next week. We still have to go back to 3A to finish the area/perimeter chapter.


I have seen advice here to use CWP, IP, and sometimes BA half a year to a year behind, and I’m trying to figure out the pros and cons of doing that. My child is grasping the material well, but she can’t do all of them independently. In CWP and IP, we do half the regular problems and all of the ‘Take the Challenge’ and ‘Challenging’ problems. Of the latter, she asks for help 40% of the time, and of the 40%, she is eventually able to solve them on her own about 40% of the time if I ask her to take her time and reread the question. So about 25% of the time, we work through the problem together.


Do some people delay using these books with the goal that their kids can most of problems on their own? Is there a sweet spot of where kids struggle a bit but can also feel successful?


I really like working through the problems together and even on problems she has answered correctly, we often discuss her thought process and other ways to approach it. My plan was to continue through the books until there’s too much struggle and not enough success, but when? I assume Singapore and BA ramp up after 3rd grade.


Thanks for listening! I have learned so much from this board!

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Different people have different goals.  Bottom line for me is whether, in using all these materials at home, the child is making progress and hopefully finding meaning and enjoyment in the process.  It is not that relevant at all, IMHO, what the grade level is on the book.  If this is where your child needs to be in the materials then that is where they need to be.  These are being used to supplement and bolster and enhance.  If they are doing those things, and your child is progressing, then kuddos.  Double kuddos if they are also finding they enjoy math.


The materials you are using are not easy.  Even adults can sometimes have some trouble.  Some kids will be able to do those things independently.  Most will still need some scaffolding.  Most parents I know that are using these materials as a supplement do it a half to a full grade level behind simply because the material is really that challenging.  To have success they do better working it behind primary material.  While there are some kids that can do this stuff completely independently, seriously most can't.  And that is perfectly fine.  If you both enjoy working those problems together, then continue to do so.  You're doing a great job.  :)


As for continuing until she struggles, well, if she hits snags then slow down, review, hit things a bit sideways, use manipulatives, etc.  If the material is working but has become too difficult, slow down.  Seriously.  Things do ramp up but you can go through the material as slowly as she needs for it to actually make a difference in her understanding and functionality in math.  Heck there are some 5th and 6th graders doing BA 3.  There is a lot of meat in these materials.  


Best wishes.

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I think you will know when you hit a wall and your child isn't understanding or retaining material.


It really, for me and speaking specifically about BA on grade level, had to do less with the amount of parental involvement required and more with the type of parental involvement required.


I paused when it crossed the line from me asking questions ("Oh, wait, could we try this with smaller numbers? Does this look like any other problems you've seen? Oh, hey, can you draw a picture to show me what you're thinking? What if we try to make a model? Hmm, where did they explain this in the guide?") to actually having to go over the same misapprehension or mistake again and again with no lightbulb moments. (One sign was that my child who repeatedly said she understood the example, or the solution for a problem, but was unable to immediately replicate it or another just like it once the example and solution were hidden from view.)


I think being able to struggle with math problems on one's own is often a matter of maturity, not ability. And the willingness or desire to do so is a matter of personality. Some subjects, particularly math and the sciences, can, I think, stretch the human brain to the point where inability to work or communicate with others is actually a liability. The main thing I try to be sure of is that my assistance is aiding my kids' abilities to struggle without being felled by frustration, to communicate clearly, and use productive problem-solving strategies. I am not there as a calculator or even a teammate (although I believe this is valuable with peers at the same level) but a coach. It sounds to me like this is what you're doing, and so I'd trust that you'll feel it when you're doing too much.

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OneStep and fralala, thanks for the input! I agree that there plenty of material to keep us busy and that there’s no reason to hurry through. I try to act excited and enthusiastic when we come across a particularly tricky problem and hope that my child will learn to embrace a challenge. I have seen that tackling difficult problems has increased her resiliency and frustration tolerance.


When we started Miquon, my goal was for my child to have a deep understanding of math. But as we added IP, CWP, and then BA, I also added the goal of learning patience and persistence.


I am so impressed with both BA and the IP and CWP series for presenting complex and thoughtful problems that really encourage our kids to think flexibly.


OneStep, I agree that working behind primary material is helpful. I haven’t done this intentionally, but I will start to schedule BA topics to follow the IP and CWP topics. We have been mixing them up as sort of a way to review, but it might be better to stack them.

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