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happynurse

Agonizing over math

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I could use some math advice from homeschoolers more seasoned than myself. My almost 7 year old son has been doing CLE 100s this entire school year. It started out awesome. He did math easily and without complaint. However, as the year has gone on, he has become more and more irritable regarding math. Today, he sat there and literally cried (legit tears) for at least 20 minutes over math. I had had enough, and quitely got up and started cleaning the kitchen. While I was doing so, this kid took his light unit up to his bedroom, finished the whole thing in under 10 minutes, and brought it down to show me. Almost all of his answers were correct. When he is sitting with me, however, he just agonizes over having to do math. 

So, when I asked him why he did it so quickly in his room but threw a fit for me, his response was simply that he didn't want to go through every single thing. He wants me to read the story problem (because it is in the TM) and then he just wants to "be alone". Um, okay. Apparently crying at the table is his way of saying he wants more independence in his math work. Got it. 

Does anyone else have experience with this? I don't want to 'set him free' because, you know, he's not-quite-7 years old. Yet apparently math with me is torture. Could this be that CLE is too easy for him? He is okay with math facts, but still needs LOTS of fact practice. That's why I see CLE as a good, solid program. But apparently he knows his facts better than he lets on, because he completed it alone in his room quite quickly. 

Thoughts appreciated!

FWIW - Speed drill completed with no errors as well. Alone. In his room. 

Edited by happynurse

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My ds7 tries to be pretty independent sometimes. My problem is he can get really, really spacey and so I usually can't send him off to do math or much else alone yet because 15 minutes later he'll have a work of art on the paper but no math. So I would say the fact that your son went off and actually completed it is great!! 🙂

A couple of suggestions- maybe you could scribe for him sometimes- or scribe the part he does with you. You do the writing and talk it through as he answers, and then he can go off to his room or something with the other part and do alone when you're fairly confident he's grasping the concept? That would take some of the writing burden off of him in case that's part of the stressor. 

Another trick that might be worth trying- my ds thinks being timed is absolutely awesome. Now my girls would both flip out and cry if I ever tried it with them, but he really likes trying to beat his last time. It does something for his competitive spirit. We don't do this everyday, but we do when I get an "this is too easy" but I know it's a review he needs. 

Sometimes I think some kids just need a change. I haven't used CLE 100, but I used from 500-Algebra 1. It's pretty bland sometimes. Maybe print him up some Star Wars worksheets or whatever he likes off of Teachers Pay Teachers, or even the Star Wars books off of Amazon that say X Grade Math. For my ds, I have to keep a lot of variety going or he would get really bored. 

Math facts are pretty boring to learn and they can still move on to other concepts while they're cementing the facts if you think he's wanting more. And if you want him to do fact reviews, you can always throw in a games, or have a game day every week or something. Just play dice, cards, anything else to change it up- that will still work on those math facts while they're having fun. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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I loved that CLE math was very independent and routine in the 200's and on. So long as he can read and follow directions, he could be independent with it. You'll just need to keep up with grading quizzes and tests to make sure he's not missing anything before moving on. Maybe, give him the placement test to see if he is where he needs to be or if he could be placed further along.

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31 minutes ago, Janeway said:

Is it possible he is cheating in his room? Calculator or answer key?

Nope. I had the TM next to me on the countertop. His LU was on the kitchen island. It was the only book that disappeared. ;) But good thought!

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22 minutes ago, Mona said:

I loved that CLE math was very independent and routine in the 200's and on. So long as he can read and follow directions, he could be independent with it. You'll just need to keep up with grading quizzes and tests to make sure he's not missing anything before moving on. Maybe, give him the placement test to see if he is where he needs to be or if he could be placed further along.

Thank you for this advice. I thought about doing that, but I was so awful with math facts that I am terrified of skipping ahead! I should probably get over it, especially if he is getting frustrated!

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58 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

My ds7 tries to be pretty independent sometimes. My problem is he can get really, really spacey and so I usually can't send him off to do math or much else alone yet because 15 minutes later he'll have a work of art on the paper but no math. So I would say the fact that your son went off and actually completed it is great!! 🙂

A couple of suggestions- maybe you could scribe for him sometimes- or scribe the part he does with you. You do the writing and talk it through as he answers, and then he can go off to his room or something with the other part and do alone when you're fairly confident he's grasping the concept? That would take some of the writing burden off of him in case that's part of the stressor. 

Another trick that might be worth trying- my ds thinks being timed is absolutely awesome. Now my girls would both flip out and cry if I ever tried it with them, but he really likes trying to beat his last time. It does something for his competitive spirit. We don't do this everyday, but we do when I get an "this is too easy" but I know it's a review he needs. 

Sometimes I think some kids just need a change. I haven't used CLE 100, but I used from 500-Algebra 1. It's pretty bland sometimes. Maybe print him up some Star Wars worksheets or whatever he likes off of Teachers Pay Teachers, or even the Star Wars books off of Amazon that say X Grade Math. For my ds, I have to keep a lot of variety going or he would get really bored. 

Math facts are pretty boring to learn and they can still move on to other concepts while they're cementing the facts if you think he's wanting more. And if you want him to do fact reviews, you can always throw in a games, or have a game day every week or something. Just play dice, cards, anything else to change it up- that will still work on those math facts while they're having fun. 

Thank you for your reply! These are some great ideas, I think spicing it up a bit would help a ton!

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16 minutes ago, happynurse said:

Thank you for this advice. I thought about doing that, but I was so awful with math facts that I am terrified of skipping ahead! I should probably get over it, especially if he is getting frustrated!

I would try to separate math facts from math concepts in your mind.  Math facts are important, but they truly aren't foundational.  It is strong concepts that will best serve students in the long run.  If they truly understand addition and multiplication and the distributive property, then they can figure out any math fact that they need.  And if they truly understand fundamental mathematical concepts, then even without strong math facts, they will still be well equipped to puzzle through fractals and binomials and probability and cryptography and all the other fun mathematical topics that really stimulate a strong math student's mind. 

I have a 9 year old who is currently finishing up AOPS Prealgebra (one of the most rigorous pre-algebra programs available), which he has very successfully completed about 90% independently and with no calculator use.  He still struggles with all of his math facts...including addition and subtraction!!  Would it have been better for me to "hold him back" in first grade math until his math facts were solid?  For how long, when his brain was clearly ready for much meatier concepts?  He has done a level of Xtramath, which drills him on math facts, every day for the last three years.  I'm pretty sure if I hadn't let him move along conceptually at his pace, just because he didn't have his facts memorized, that he would have started to hate math.

I have a 7 year old who just started Math Mammoth level 5 and is a pro at balancing algebraic equations.  Again, he struggles with math facts and still frequently refers to his multiplication chart...even as he adroitly handles complex, challenging math puzzles.  And don't even get me started on his handwriting!!  He does almost all of his math, even long long division, in his head because his handwriting stamina is so weak.  He is just an asynchronous kid, and it wouldn't really do his long-term math development any good to hold him back due to his weaknesses.

All that to say that, yes, I think it is very possible that that level of CLE is just too easy for your DS.  If he has mastered the concepts, then I would be loathe to make him slog through more boring, repetitive review just biding time until he has better memorized the math facts.  Instead, I have always taken a two prong approach.  I place my kiddos in levels of math curricula that keep them interested and challenged.  I keep lessons short and age-appropriate, but I'm always looking for content that will stretch them and really get them thinking.  At the same time, I treat math fact memorization as a completely separate subject, that the kiddos plug away at for a few minutes everyday.  My kids have really enjoyed the Math Mosaic books which make fact drill a bit more fun. 

Wendy

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I love this Ted Talk that has been shared in a couple threads today.  I really speaks to my math education philosophy.

 

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I agree with wendyroo: making the curriculum more challenging sounds like a good idea. My daughter pretty much refuses to practice her math facts even though she doesn’t have them down, except in verbal drills. She finds them boring.

So, yeah, moving along conceptually seems like a good idea while continuing to do some drilling :-).

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