Jump to content

Menu

Math Phobia in a globally gifted child


Recommended Posts

I’ll try to keep this brief. I have a child who has always worked two or three grades ahead across the board in all subjects. Like all people she has strengths and weaknesses but in general she is bright and capable no matter what she tries. She showed early comfort with math concepts and was carrying numbers and multiplying at age four. Fast forward to now and she is nearly hysterical over the simple single digit addition required to find perimeter in Singapore 4A. 

We have always used Singapore though her younger brother uses Beast Academy and she has occasionally dipped into that as well. Her fear of math has developed slowly, finally hitting a wall last year or so when the math knowledge she knew and understood with minimal instruction caught up to grade level. She is not afraid of effort or learning new knowledge in other areas and has taken on challenging new subjects with relative ease (including chemistry which has a lot of math itself.) 

what to do? 

Edited by Gabrielsyme
Link to post
Share on other sites

Fear of what?  Have a conference with her....pull out the cookies & milk and see what the stopper is. If that doesn't work, put the problem set up on the whiteboard and figure it out. It can be as simple as stating that 4th grade just requires more time on task than previous levels, as there are more concepts to learn and the ratio of answers/solutions changes.  She might benefit from having the math session split into two or three portions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have done lots of patient relaxed talking about it and she says she finds the instruction part of the lesson embarrassing, that is it’s somehow embarrassing that someone is telling her how to do something or asking her to narrate back what she did. I believe that she does feel this way but I’m not sure know to proceed.

I should add that she is a little bit 2E and has a sensory processing disorder so meltdowns have always been a part of our academic journey. She has done OT and it was incredibly helpful but she is still a sensory seeking kid and when things are hard she tends to have an outsized response. I know a lot of parents of gifted kids can relate the this but the hard part is often that I share something like this and I get one of two responses: a) “oh all kids are like that and cry about school you just think your kid is “special” or b) “wow that must be terrible, I’m so sorry.”  Ha. Sometimes I just want to hear “I’ve been there too.” In a way that doesn’t negate the truth of my experience.

Edited by Gabrielsyme
Link to post
Share on other sites

Some gifted kids are so used to getting concepts very easily because of their high levels of giftedness that when a challenge presents itself for the first time, they do not have tools to cope and have never learned what it is to work hard to solve problems. Most of their work has come so fluently and naturally to them that it is like asking them to use skills that they never had and it leads to meltdowns (and worse disasters if this happened for the first time in college). My suggestion is to try to increase the challenge in math and slow down on the rate of progress and coach her to not panic and think through the solutions calmly. Work out a few problems for her and discuss with her various strategies that you use when you think about hard problems. If you are not doing it already, get the CWP and Intensive Practice for SM which have many hard problems in there. Good luck.

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

I can relate quite well although my kids are in College.  So this is been there.....My daughter is mathy and has always been so but I learned with her that we did not want to hit a bump in the road where she was not up and running with a new concept within two days.  

Because of that I always ran two math curriculums.......my choices were Singapore and ABeka.  Sometimes we would concentrate on one but move to the other frequently.  The other book taught things differently and we always moved through the second appearance of that concept quickly.  Sometimes after a week or so I would pull the problem section back out and off she would go.  I never ever said something was hard.  Just quietly moved to the other book.  This also slowed things down.  Did the same with DS.  Both have math degrees now.....going into Cybersecurity.

Just read @mathnerd CWP are great.  I ran these one year behind where we were in Singapore.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds from your first paragraph that she isn't interested in direct instruction.  You might look at a different path, maybe project based, maybe smaller discovery based, maybe real life learning. Over time, you can explore the concept of teacher and of learner.  What does she consider the role of a teacher to be? Of a learner?

The school psych I worked with told me about the 'smile quotient'. It helped me work with my child to gauge level of challenge desired and what appropriate output looked like.  The sensory issues we had were in no way related to the level of challenge in academics, but they were related to the way the day was structured .and the unease of adults who were not trained to work with gifted children. It was more about sensory diet and the school psych here was able to work with the teachers my child was assigned to and move his sensory diet to appropriate for him.  

I have no idea if I am 'negating your truth' but I have found that because gifted students accomplishments are attacked so much on public chatboards, many parents of same do not violate their children's privacy by relating anecdotes without their permission.  

On narrating back - can she do it?  Does she need to do it? My child conferred with me and we agreed to drop all exercises, and all unchallenging problems.  As the instructor, I had to ensure that the terminology and the skill of presenting a solution was acquired, despite the volume reduction so the student was not excused from presenting solutions.

Edited by HeighHo
Link to post
Share on other sites

😂I see now that “negating my truth” is pretty opaque and steriotypically millennial phrase. I was born right on the edge in 1982 so it just slips out occasionally.  I just meant that I have often been told by people who don’t know the situation very well that my publicly high functioning child is either completely normal or (usually online when they have only my limited words to go by) a total mess. Neither is true.

Anyway, I like the idea of sliding back and forth with another curriculum. I wonder if BA could work. The online version (which we have) is very approachable and she might respond to the independent nature of the work.

I myself was a gifted kid who didn’t learn to dig in and “try” when things didn’t come naturally so I am acutely aware that this is something my kids need to learn. We have done music from an early age and this is one area where we have had a lot of success coaching them to try even when it gets challenging. With sensory challenges that has been a little one step forward/two steps back at times but we HAVE seen progress. It’s just hard to see the road ahead and the “how” sometimes even when you know the “what.”

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

So, what I'm about to say isn't in the standard parenting manual these days, but...

I have a kid who had major meltdowns over math when he was 7yo or so.  I just figured it was part of his sensory processing issues (yes, we did OT) and for quite a while, I took it in stride.  Then one day, I had had enough.  I informed him that his reaction to math was unacceptable and that it would stop right then and that I would be taking away his screen privileges for a month--and the month would start when the meltdowns stopped and stayed stopped.

I think he had maybe one or two more meltdowns over math after that and then nothing ever again.  

So, if she were my kid, that is what I'd do.  I'd also inform her that she's simply going to need to get over her "embarrassment" over math instruction.  If she can just intuit the math or teach it to herself with very little effort, she is not working at an appropriate level.  Period.

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think AOPS shared this online today.  It's a TEDx talk by a female math professor.  She talks about how mathematicians are slow, deliberate thinkers and how the current math curriculum is flawed.  That current math teaching filters out the wrong people (including girls).  Another thing that has helped my two kids with similar feelings is this by the founder of AOPS.  https://artofproblemsolving.com/articles/calculus-trap. My daughter now frequently paraphrases this part "If ever you are by far the best, or the most interested, student in a classroom, then you should find another classroom."  The quote is awkward re: homeschooling, but his point is that it's not expected to be easy.  

 

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

My youngest ds is being scarred of maths. He cannot even learn timetable well! Everytime I ask him to revise it he starts talking to himself, singing, fulling around but he cannot concentrate at all. The same with simple maths. It is like he has blocked it and doesn't even want to give it a chance to understand! I am still trying to figure out what to do, so I will follow!

It's so pity, because he is a very bright kid too, not less smarter than his brother. He has also started to read before 3yo on his own and he is very independent, I have never helped him with his school homework too. Beside my eldest ds is hyperactive and can concentrate and keep focus for long hours and can do thousand of the things, but the little one has a concentration problem instead 😞

Edited by Rush
Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

she says she finds the instruction part of the lesson embarrassing, that is it’s somehow embarrassing that someone is telling her how to do something.

My son was this way.  He told me once that teaching was cheating.  He would NOT let me teach him math.  He had to puzzle it out himself, and there were days when it was so hard that he would cry in frustration.  But he still wouldn't let me help.  But he was so driven, and loved math so much that I decided to stay out of the way.  Only later did I find out that he thought using a textbook explanation was also cheating. So I'm not quite sure how he learned fractions or any primary school math, I guess trial and error and the answers in the back of the book.   He used the Intensive Practice books in Singapore Maths because he had to do math in word problem format as he would NOT EVER drill. EVER.

With a child who is dreading math, the first thing I would do is stop Singapore Math for a bit, find a different program to use that would be suitable for self teaching, and let her self teach.  What about Dragonbox for an algebra introduction, or people talk about some hands on geometry program (Patty paper geometry?). Something that is designed to be learned intuitively.  Get the love back.  And then slowly reintroduce her to Singapore math, and see if she can self-teach.  

When my son was self-teaching, one of the requirements I had was if there were tears, you had to stop for 5 minutes.  And if you were really frustrated (and I could tell), you had to let me teach you *very briefly* about the topic. At one point I hid his math books until he would agree to my terms.  Mental health is just as important as physical health. And crying over math is not OK from my point of view.

Good Luck!

Ruth in NZ

 

Edited by lewelma
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Is she capable of teaching herself using singapore?  My kids have some subjects that they prefer self-teaching as much as possible.  We use singapore, and often they can reason through it by looking at the example.  If that doesn't work, they use the textbook.  If they don't get it at that point, they ask for help.  Younger will often get help if the example isn't enough, but older has usually preferred to try it on his own.  I would even consider letting kiddo look through the teaching tips in the home instructor's guide if that is helpful.  I think that my kids get frustrated because the back-and-forth of teaching takes more time than reading it would, son unless they're truly stuck, they'd prefer 'quick'.  For subjects that are less absolute, like 'Why did the revolutionary war happen?' they're fine with discussion.  I'd also consider doing something very different, like maybe Life of Fred,for a while.  That's meant to be read by the student, so kiddo might not feel like it has explicit lessons.  Older is doing AoPS, but does LOF once/week and enjoys the way that the material is taught so differently.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/16/2019 at 12:18 PM, Gabrielsyme said:

We have done lots of patient relaxed talking about it and she says she finds the instruction part of the lesson embarrassing, that is it’s somehow embarrassing that someone is telling her how to do something or asking her to narrate back what she did. I believe that she does feel this way but I’m not sure know to proceed.

I should add that she is a little bit 2E and has a sensory processing disorder so meltdowns have always been a part of our academic journey. She has done OT and it was incredibly helpful but she is still a sensory seeking kid and when things are hard she tends to have an outsized response. I know a lot of parents of gifted kids can relate the this but the hard part is often that I share something like this and I get one of two responses: a) “oh all kids are like that and cry about school you just think your kid is “special” or b) “wow that must be terrible, I’m so sorry.”  Ha. Sometimes I just want to hear “I’ve been there too.” In a way that doesn’t negate the truth of my experience.

The psychologist who evaluated my 2e kids likes to say that sensory stuff "matures" into anxiety. I know that it's a ripe age for sensory stuff to go through the roof, so you might consider seeing if she has some retained primitive reflexes. This age was a huge adjustment for both of my 2e kids, but also a time when we had to focus on some additional outside therapies (not all are created equal). For a child who is as accelerated as yours, it might be that she's experiencing greater frustration with the factors that make her 2e, but it's not obvious what the problem is. (I am not sure if you are dealing with more than just sensory stuff.) 

Folks on the Learning Challenges board might have ideas if you think you need to look into the 2e side of things more.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to update that we've switched to Beast Academy for a while and seen a big improvement. I think the way  BA is laid out has helped her switch gears emotionally because she has complete access to all the information she needs to learn the concepts. I suppose I could hand her the Singapore teacher's manual but it's not as conducive to self-study as BA. She's always been a kid who craves constant attention so self-teaching  can be tricky but I'm always pleased when it works out because it's just one more little step toward maturity. For her this tendency is due to SPD because she does not naturally self-regulate well and often tries to manipulate others into hanging around and carrying some of that responsibility. She doesn't have any  other diagnoses and the SPD is fairly mild but it's been an issue for three out of four of my kids.

I have tried posting on the Learning Challenges board but I generally feel more comfortable here because my older kids fit into the gifted category (I'll reserve judgement on the younger two) and I find that if I mention SPD here it can be taken in the context of giftedness and is less likely to be misinterpreted. I've had a few times when people got very intense very quickly over there giving specific therapy advice that just didn't apply to my kids. It kind of spooked me. I understand the temptation because I myself always think SPD when someone tells me that they have a really intense, smart kid who can't handle themselves but I've learned to be cautious about specific advice.  We did end up having our older two evaluated (they don't have other diagnoses, just high IQ/SPD) and did about a year of OT it was absolutely the right choice.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...