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Math is inducing anger and frustration


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Hello, all. I need some advice on math for my 7 year old 2nd grader. We have always homeschooled and are currently finishing up CLE LU 110, getting ready to move into CLE math 200s. CLE started out amazing for him, he liked how it was straightforward, didn't look 'babyish' and he found it fairly easy. Well, as CLE has ramped up a bit, caused him to think harder, and increased problem load, he is getting irritable and frustrated as soon as the math book comes out. He gets aggravated when I try to teach or help him. Often he just takes the math book and wants to do it on his own, yet I still keep close tabs on what he's doing. He understands the concepts just fine, but something about it is overwhelming him. Crossing out problems helps a bit, but just getting started is becoming a nightmare in our homeschool.

About him...he's a VERY visual learner and quite artistic in terms of drawing and creating things. He memorized all the states and capitals at 4, and then moved on to every country on every continent in the world. He draws them ALL from memory, free-handed, complete with every little crevice and detail. Ask him to draw Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, New Zealand, ANY country or island, and he can do it, from memory, freehand. But ask him 9 + 6 and he goes bananas. He knows it after thinking for a bit, but still goes berserk at having to even 'deal' with such nonsense.  ;-) All morning he's been going through a flag book and drawing all the flags of the countries of the world. He's also a great reader, definitely on second or third grade level, but doesn't care much about reading unless it is something nonfiction or that interests him. Oh, and he'd play Minecraft all day if I'd let him. Ha! He also exhibits symptoms of ADHD when it comes time to do school work. He is inattentive during schooling and quite fidgety. He has incredible reading comprehension, even when he's drawing or wiggling the whole time I'm reading to him.

Any ideas for a math curriculum that might work for a kid like this? I'd appreciate any input. Thanks!

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Sorry, my sig is old. He wasn't grabbing the abstract concepts in level 1 and I hated the book juggling, so we opted for the CLE 100s for first grade instead. I tried Singapore 1 after using Singapore Essentials in Kindergarten successfully. But Singapore Essentials and Singapore Level 1 were two different beasts. We needed more simplicity and straightforward material. 

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There are fun looking Minecraft math workbooks on Amazon.  You can use CLE to teach lessons and use the Minecraft as a fun way to practice/review.  (Only do a handful of problems in the CLE book or just do them orally or on a separate paper so that he doesn't see the overwhelming numbers.)

 

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If he's a visual learner, why not tap into that with something like Math U See?  I'd suggest Right Start or Gattegno, but I think he might prefer the quietness of MUS over the more interactive lessons of RS.  The pages are clean, he can visualize the blocks, and there's a video lesson that he can watch if he wants to do it by himself.  If so, I'd have him teach you the lesson when he wants to test/move on, though, just to be sure he has it.

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My fidgety ADHD plus PANDAS (so even more issues with concentration/thinking) is enjoying CTC math so far this year. We are also looking at The Good and The Beautiful as I'd like him to slow down a bit and do some hands on stuff, and he'd enjoy the story aspect of it, but otherwise maybe do the free trial of CTC?

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It sounds like MUS would be a better fit, but it also sounds like there is an element of disobedience in him not wanting you to teach him.  If you try MUS, I would make watching the videos mandatory, non-negotiable, full-stop.  He has proven that he can't self-teach.  Don't let him attempt it again just to end up frustrated and crying.  You might also do well to split the wok in half, with half done in the morning and half in the afternoon.  Implement an incentive for the first two months.  This will give him the external motivation he needs to get over the feeling that he will never be finished.  After that you can remove the incentive or reassign it to a different target behavior.

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He's so young. I'd drop the formal math for a month or two and work on those math facts through games (Corners, Going to the Dump, Sum Swamp, Knock Out...), read lots of living math books (see livingmath.net for book lists - I could suggest titles, but theirs are super comprehensive), and play with Cuisenaire rods and other manipulatives.

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The Life of Fred math books might be a good fit. Also, CLE math is advanced. One can easily work a grade behind and still be on grade level. So you could put aside CLE math for now and use games to work on math facts and come back to it when he is ready to start 3rd grade. 

Susan in TX

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I'll be the dissenter against LOF.  The topics are not presented in an orderly manner, and for a few of the lower grade books it can seems weird or odd.  Others, I described our math time as "hitting the topic full speed with Fred, and then meandering leisurely with Right Start".  There's not a whole lot of instruction in Fred and it's a great introduction with stories that will be fun and great to read, but no....I wouldn't recommend it as a main program in the early grades.

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19 hours ago, happynurse said:

He also exhibits symptoms of ADHD when it comes time to do school work. He is inattentive during schooling and quite fidgety. He has incredible reading comprehension, even when he's drawing or wiggling the whole time I'm reading to him.

So I agree he was young. Is he a summer bday by chance? My dd has ADHD and was very ADHD at that age, sigh. Now she's on meds and doing well in college. But at that age, yeah that was pretty much a trip. We'd work 10 minutes with a timer and send her out for laps. In that sense, CLE is a very counter-intuitive choice, with the long lessons, repetition, etc. 

I agree with the suggestion to play games. Most of the math he needs to do he could do with games. I use games and activities almost exclusively with my ds (aside from some Tang Math worksheets and some random workbooks for topics I bring in). So maybe not exclusively, but a lot, lot, lot. Ronit Bird is useful if there's a number sense disability. Family Math is a nice overall book. Ronit Bird is gold for us.

So what I see is you don't know the extent of what's going on. People think ADHD is a behavioral problem, but there are other things that go along with it, like Executive Function (EF), working memory, and processing speed issues. So when we had full psych testing, my dd turned out to have a disability level discrepancy between her IQ and processing speed. She was given accommodations in her paper trail and now uses them in college (extended time, limited distraction testing environment, etc.). Processing speed shows up heavily with math, and it might help you to have some data to know if that's *part* of what you're seeing. You also seem to make the assumption that if he's smart (which he clearly is!!), then he can't have any SLDs. That too would be a bad assumption. 

So maybe start thinking about some evals, digging in, getting some data on what's going on. I know it seems early. I called at this age (end of 1st) with my dd and the receptionist at the psych's office blew me off!!! I regretted that a long time, because she was 12 before we finally got full psych evals. That was a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of time without mistakes and professional counsel on how to handle significant ADHD in a very bright dc. My dd ended up with very high ACT scores, top scholarships, but we had a lot of bumps. Getting good evals, good advice can be your friend here.

So read about the ADHD and learn more about it, because it's WAY MORE than just behavior. Consider evals, sooner rather than later. Ponder meds. If you're not going to medicate, you will have to be the complete accommodation yourself with higher structure, shorter work amounts, movement breaks, etc. At this age, a short acting single dose med might be radical. It also sounds like his reading is under-performing for his likely IQ. Do you have achievement testing to know where he's actually at? 

So then what math, haha, since that was your actual question. I used RightStart with my dd through 2nd and then moved her, after bumps and trying a bunch of things, to BJU. BJU had the balance of together, independent, built-in review, challenging problems, not too much work, etc. For high school, I finally moved her over to MUS because I was dealing with my significantly more complex ds who needed my attention. 

I think you don't know at this point why he's "freaking out and going bananas" with 9+6. You don't know if it's math SLD (could be), anxiety (could be), low processing speed from the ADHD (could be), poor word retrieval (also could be). It's probably some combination. What I can tell you is that testing is the way to get data to sort that out and that you want to get as much information as you can to help you make good changes to how you work with him. YOU will be the magic here, not the curriculum. You could probably make any curriculum work if you get the information on how he's thinking, what's going on, and use strong support strategies.

Support strategies? 

-EF accommodations 

-STRUCTURE

-short work sessions and breaks, use TIMERS

-Zones of Regulation check-ins

-calming strategies

-prewarnings (this is what's coming up, let's do this to get calm, what tool do you want to use to help you feel peaceful while we do this, what is our plan if you feel xyz, etc.)

-being aware of issues with processing speed and giving him time

-going to visual instead of only using language

-building working memory

 

Edited by PeterPan
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16 hours ago, Paradox5 said:

Other options with more fun:

McRuffy

Saxon

BJU

What is CTC?

 

CTC is an online math program that I have heard many people rave about lately.

 

I highly recommend BJU, MUS, TGTB as excellent choices for your son. Right Start might be great too, just my own ADHD brain did not have the energy to try to do it.

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19 hours ago, Farrar said:

He's so young. I'd drop the formal math for a month or two and work on those math facts through games (Corners, Going to the Dump, Sum Swamp, Knock Out...), read lots of living math books (see livingmath.net for book lists - I could suggest titles, but theirs are super comprehensive), and play with Cuisenaire rods and other manipulatives.

 

I agree with Farrar. Before you think about switching curriculum, try taking a break from the work and just playing with ideas for awhile. There are so many interesting things to do with math beyond the regular textbook work, and it will give his brain a chance to recharge.

Here are a couple of posts from my blog that may help:

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Miquon. It's really inexpensive, and you mentioned he's very visual. You can take it slow, ramp it up, repeat lessons, go in order or go in "threads." Just make sure you get a big enough rod set for it to be FUN.

I am with Peter Pan that there might be problems with some underlying stuff and mentioned Ronit Bird. I think that also uses cuisinaire rods and is relatively inexpensive. If Miquon seemed right but too hard, then Ronit Bird might be just right.

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Thank you, everyone for your help. I've read through all of the responses and am grateful for all of the advice and encouragement. A couple of questions...

I own Rightstart A and B, 2nd edition. He hated it in K, that's why we used Singapore Essentials instead. He preferred a workbook. But now I'm wondering if it's worth a revisit? I am not sure where Level B falls in regard to 2nd grade math.

Also, I glanced at Ronit Bird, but am a little confused by it. Is it a curriculum? A book or series of books that the parent fleshes out? Is there a manipulative kit that goes with it or do you supply your own? I'm trying to decide if it would be a better investment opposed to revisiting Rightstart B, which I already have. 

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23 hours ago, happynurse said:

I own Rightstart A and B, 2nd edition. He hated it in K

So I used RightStart with my dd (age 20, now in college), and I use Ronit Bird with my dd. Actually I'm doing RightStart Fractions with my ds right now, hehe, so there you go. Anyways, do you know *why* he was having trouble with RightStart? Was it too fast, too hard, not comprehended well? Was it hard to get the language out? Was it hard to do the mental math? Were there little things he didn't like (like the taps or songs)? 

Ronit Bird is available as inexpensive ebooks, and that's where I HIGHLY recommend you start if you want to try Ronit Bird. They're inexpensive and include embedded videos showing how to do the tasks. Her Dots, C-Rods, and Multiplication ebooks together comprise most of what's in her print book Dyscalculia Toolkit. My ds has dyscalculia, so for him the pace of RightStart was too much. I bought the 2nd edition (to replace the 1st edition that I used with my dd years ago) and quickly sold it off because it wasn't within reach for him. 

So RightStart B, at least in the 1st edition, quickly reviewed all the concepts from A and then moved forward. It's a great level, Cotter's foundational, original work, exceptionally well done. When I taught my ds 4 digit addition and subtraction, I taught them to him RightStart style. But whether the curriculum will work for him, well it really depends on what is going on. 

With my dd (who is now 20 remember), I was very slow to do evals when we had problems. When she was 1st grade age, I called about evals, got the blow-off, and I let that stand. Well that let a lot of water go under the bridge before evals. With my ds (now 10), I was much more assertive, saying no I have to have evals to teach him. So if you ask me, I'm always pro eval. You can look for a psych off the Hoagies Gifted list if you want. They'll tend to be more whole person, looking for strengths. I used a neuropsych with my dd, and that's kind of considered overkill. However his eval was good and he did some extra testing that turned up things we are STILL dealing with, all these years later. So evals are your friend, giving you information to work with him better. When you don't know why things are happening, sometimes evals are the way to sort that out.

So I would think the sensible thing would be to *try* a little RightStart B, since you have it, see what happens. Try modifying the CLE and see what happens. And figure out what ebook of Ronit Bird you'd get if that would be appropriate. Her Dots ebook covers math facts, where C-Rods moves into place value and multi-digit add/subtract.

Did you look at the BJU Math? If there's no math SLD (dyscalculia), then BJU might be your ticket. https://www.bjupresshomeschool.com/category/math

Edited by PeterPan
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                                            Family Math (Equals Series)                                     

Here's the link for Family Math. The games in Ronit Bird are a good fit for my ds also. 

And no, Ronit Bird is tutorial information, intervention for math disability, not a full curriculum. However if there's a math disability, Ronit Bird's stuff is AMAZING. I use it with other materials (Tang Math, other workbooks, etc.).

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