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When do you start skipping stuff? Fast learner in all areas


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My just turned 6 yr old went through Singapore Math 1A quickly. He clearly already knew everything before we started but I still made him do every single part. Now I am sitting with him painfully working through the workbook and wondering if I should just put it aside and move on to 1B. He clearly knows the stuff in the workbook. Also, I am no longer sure Singapore Math is the way to go. I never felt it had a lot of repetition, so maybe it is just 1A that feels this way. Also, for reading, I postponed starting to teach him. But when I did pick up the book, it felt like he was learning from it at first, but now, again, going through it fast. So much so that even though we are less than half way through, he already tested out of the book and can read the stuff at the end of the book. Then I decided to add in Considering God's Creation and he got everything very fast. He started watching Crash Course videos with his older brother and loving it. He actually seemed to get it. 

I am not sure what to do next. He builds Lego sets with the age range of 8+ and follows all the instructions, by himself, and builds them well with no frustrations. 

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This might be a confusing answer, but I never really skipped stuff.  I just found a better way of doing it that met his needs without bogging him down.  It's why MEP was a good fit when he rebelled against MUS.  MEP moved through the standard progression "slower", but it made him think deeper about his answers and approach.  He could use the information he knew in a different way.  It's also why Right Start was not a good fit.  Right Start drew on a variety approach, but it was mostly skill training and fine motor work. One wasn't needed, the other was difficult to do a whole lesson's worth.  Gattegno hit our sweet spot.  We could move as fast as he needed, move forward and backward, and give time to explore.

The same with reading.  We did 100 EZ Lessons, and he did it in just about 100 days, with a few added for review.  From there we moved to reading, and then readers that expected him to comprehend.  I just filled in gaps along the way, since 100 EZ Lessons doesn't teach all the phonemes.

When French stopped meeting his needs, we got more fluid and found a different path. I found better history resources for middle school.  I let him pick what he needs for subjects, within minimal constraints.  More often than not he likes going for the deep end and pushing himself to meet the material.

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When we were using Singapore Math, and one of my kids seemed to already know or immediately get a section as we reached it, I eventually learned to just let them do the more challenging questions from the Intensive Practice books and the Challenging Word Problems books and move on.  The Workbooks were great for one kid, sometimes useful for another, and a waste of time for two others.  

If I wasn't sure whether they needed it or not, I would give one or two IP questions and then judge from how easily they did that whether they needed the easier practice first, or whether to just assign the IP and CWP, or sometimes only the CWP if they really had it down.  We never skipped topics entirely, but there was no point to making them slog through work that was too easy and meant to cement concepts that were already rock solid.

Singapore is really good, but Beast Academy is our favorite.  We started out just planning to use it as a supplement to Singapore and then gradually switched over.  Every concept is applied in new and interesting and challenging ways, so that every topic, even ones they already understand, is full of real work and new insights.  We don't skip anything in BA, and they don't mind at all (unlike before I learned to pick and choose what to assign in Singapore).

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34 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

This might be a confusing answer, but I never really skipped stuff.  I just found a better way of doing it that met his needs without bogging him down.  It's why MEP was a good fit when he rebelled against MUS.  MEP moved through the standard progression "slower", but it made him think deeper about his answers and approach.  He could use the information he knew in a different way.  It's also why Right Start was not a good fit.  Right Start drew on a variety approach, but it was mostly skill training and fine motor work. One wasn't needed, the other was difficult to do a whole lesson's worth.  Gattegno hit our sweet spot.  We could move as fast as he needed, move forward and backward, and give time to explore.

The same with reading.  We did 100 EZ Lessons, and he did it in just about 100 days, with a few added for review.  From there we moved to reading, and then readers that expected him to comprehend.  I just filled in gaps along the way, since 100 EZ Lessons doesn't teach all the phonemes.

When French stopped meeting his needs, we got more fluid and found a different path. I found better history resources for middle school.  I let him pick what he needs for subjects, within minimal constraints.  More often than not he likes going for the deep end and pushing himself to meet the material.

I was doing OPGTR and should have stuck to just that.  By skipping over things…I have been thinking of ditching the rest of the workbook and moving on to the next level. I still covered it all from the textbook. I am also thinking I should toss the TGTB LA book and just stick with OPGTR and FLL.

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My daughter recently turned 7, and I let her test out of anything that she wants. If she already knows it then I don't need to teach it to her. If I'm worried about it then I just find ways to reinforce it. We're about 3/5 through Saxon 3. She's been able to multiply for some time, so there's no reason for us to do those lesson if she's not up for it. I have her do the end of lesson problems and then move on. That's what we did today.

It's the same with language and reading in my mind. She reading the Harry Potter series right now. If she wants to read something below that level then great, but don't her to do it just to check a box.

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My older started with Singapore 2A in K and it was fine - I had to teach the number bond model, but other than that it was fine.  When we got to a section that had several exercises of practice, I'd pick one and if student could do it correctly we moved on.  We did all of 2 and 3 in one year, and after that did one level each of the next few years, then did 6 in one semester and started pre-A in the spring.  With students who already know things or pick them up quickly, you can move more quickly through things that they know and then either add more depth or more breadth.  My kid liked military history, so they read about that in more depth.  For math, there were years when we finished the level with several weeks to spare, so we added more breadth with some probability and combinatorics or math puzzles.  Or you can always let the have more free time - not wasting time was one of my goals for homeschooling so on days that my kids finish quickly we enjoy the extra time.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is likely a controversial opinion, but I think most people don’t skip enough. If you glance at any of Vygotsky‘s theory of mind material, you‘ll discover that children (and adults) have „optimum“ learning zones: the base would be the test in which your child scores 100%, he has full knowledge of the content. A lot of parents fall into the trap of setting most of the material at this level in front of their child, because a. the child enjoys doing work they know and b. the parent doesn’t face the anxiety of seeing their child fail. 

The level at which to pitch material is much higher IMO, especially with kids whose cognitive abilities are fluid and „quick“ (for lack of a better term). Through some trial, I‘ve settled on a 50% failure rate for introductory material for my child; people might think that’s crazy, but it meets the criteria of being a real mental challenge but not discouragingly difficult. It also allows children to get comfortable with trying a solution, failing, and trying again. Which is probably the biggest hurdle smart kids have to overcome.

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Just now, GracieJane said:

It is likely a controversial opinion, but I think most people don’t skip enough. If you glance at any of Vygotsky‘s theory of mind material, you‘ll discover that children (and adults) have „optimum“ learning zones: the base would be the test in which your child scores 100%, he has full knowledge of the content. A lot of parents fall into the trap of setting most of the material at this level in front of their child, because a. the child enjoys doing work they know and b. the parent doesn’t face the anxiety of seeing their child fail. 

The level at which to pitch material is much higher IMO, especially with kids whose cognitive abilities are fluid and „quick“ (for lack of a better term). Through some trial, I‘ve settled on a 50% failure rate for introductory material for my child; people might think that’s crazy, but it meets the criteria of being a real mental challenge but not discouragingly difficult. It also allows children to get comfortable with trying a solution, failing, and trying again. Which is probably the biggest hurdle smart kids have to overcome.

I'd agree with that! 

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Also: as it relates to math, an alternative to accelerating (that can be even more useful) is introducing super complex word problems. Forcing the mind to hold multiple variables and discard irrelevant ones is a dynamite skill to teach young children, and it can be done with very simple addition problems.

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1 hour ago, GracieJane said:

Through some trial, I‘ve settled on a 50% failure rate for introductory material for my child; people might think that’s crazy, but it meets the criteria of being a real mental challenge but not discouragingly difficult.

I'd like to hear more. What kind of material are you presenting this way?

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6 minutes ago, UHP said:

I'd like to hear more. What kind of material are you presenting this way?

Mainly math and reading. For my children this is generally material at grade level +2. I don’t see much value at accelerating beyond 2 years, but I’m sure someone with gifted children could argue that. 😉 

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1 hour ago, GracieJane said:

Mainly math and reading. For my children this is generally material at grade level +2. I don’t see much value at accelerating beyond 2 years, but I’m sure someone with gifted children could argue that. 😉 

Do you mind giving a little detail? I don't think I have the picture, I wonder what it looks like the 50% of the time you present some math material and they "fail to do it," the 50% of the time you present some reading material and they "fail to do it."

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3 hours ago, GracieJane said:

Mainly math and reading. For my children this is generally material at grade level +2. I don’t see much value at accelerating beyond 2 years, but I’m sure someone with gifted children could argue that. 😉 

I definitely accelerate past 2 years, but that's just where my kid is. She's starting Grade 4, and keeping her at Grade 6 level or below would be silly, since the thing she's currently most enthusiastic about is graphing functions. 

Not that she doesn't have some Grade 6-level gaps to fill in, but it can't be her whole program. 

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17 minutes ago, UHP said:

Do you mind giving a little detail? I don't think I have the picture, I wonder what it looks like the 50% of the time you present some math material and they "fail to do it," the 50% of the time you present some reading material and they "fail to do it."

Sure. For example: in Kindergarten, I handed my child a 2nd grade student math book and told him to do the first page. He had no idea how to subtract two-digit numbers or how to break denominations of currency, so he just looked at me and said „I don’t know“. And I said „huh, this is super hard, let’s figure it out“. It probably took 15 minutes to do one question. But in those 15 minutes, he learned more than he could have in 2 hours of Kindergarten drill worksheets. We did this every day, him getting it wrong most of the time and then both of us fixing the mistake. Within two months, he was racing through the content on his own. A 5 year old doing work intended for a 7 year old looks very different: it is much slower, looking at one or two problems per day, getting it wrong a lot and trying different ways to solve it. But the result is a set of unique skills quite useful for solving complex problems and a way of learning that accelerates naturally. 
 

We did the same with reading. As soon as they could sound out letters, we started with mat/cat/bat. It probably took two months just to learn those three. 🙂 They just got it wrong, over and over again. Again, the goal is to give the child something very hard and work very slowly, making lots of mistakes and fixing them. The content is learned in the process, but the cognitive skills he develops from it is the real reward. 

 

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15 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I definitely accelerate past 2 years, but that's just where my kid is. She's starting Grade 4, and keeping her at Grade 6 level or below would be silly, since the thing she's currently most enthusiastic about is graphing functions. 

Not that she doesn't have some Grade 6-level gaps to fill in, but it can't be her whole program. 

I understand, that’s why I qualified my statement. 🙂 I like „novel“ -, instead of accelerated problems beyond 2 years, but I totally think it’s just parental preference.

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12 minutes ago, GracieJane said:

We did the same with reading. As soon as they could sound out letters, we started with mat/cat/bat. It probably took two months just to learn those three. 🙂 They just got it wrong, over and over again. Again, the goal is to give the child something very hard and work very slowly, making lots of mistakes and fixing them. The content is learned in the process, but the cognitive skills he develops from it is the real reward. 

Were you following a program or did you improvise reading exercises on your own?

My daughter learned to read from the "100 Easy Lessons." I know some people for whom it didn't work, but it amazed me and kind of changed my whole view of education. I've been thinking to myself since then, about whatever topic: if I can find a way to make this really easy for her, then it will be easy for her. She'll learn it and know it. That might be the opposite of what you're describing.

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8 minutes ago, UHP said:

Were you following a program or did you improvise reading exercises on your own?

My daughter learned to read from the "100 Easy Lessons." I know some people for whom it didn't work, but it amazed me and kind of changed my whole view of education. I've been thinking to myself since then, about whatever topic: if I can find a way to make this really easy for her, then it will be easy for her. She'll learn it and know it. That might be the opposite of what you're describing.

I didn’t follow any set program for the initial stages of learning to read, but they started early a few dedicated vocabulary instruction curricula once they could sound out words. The mechanics of reading are sort of black-and-white, so I think parents should just go with the program that works. 🙂

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1 hour ago, GracieJane said:

I understand, that’s why I qualified my statement. 🙂 I like „novel“ -, instead of accelerated problems beyond 2 years, but I totally think it’s just parental preference.

What do you mean about "novel"? 🙂 

I tend to teach very conceptually, so I basically start concepts as soon as a kid is ready for them. I also tend to lay a groundwork for later skills early, so we don't get stuck. 

We definitely move at whatever pace makes sense within that space, but it has wound up a lot more than 2 years ahead. It wasn't really the plan 🙂 . Just kind of happened that way. 

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1 hour ago, GracieJane said:

It probably took 15 minutes to do one question. But in those 15 minutes, he learned more than he could have in 2 hours of Kindergarten drill worksheets. We did this every day, him getting it wrong most of the time and then both of us fixing the mistake.

So when you do this do you present the same hard thing every day until it becomes easy, just work through problem after problem like this through the entire workbook, or something else entirely? 

(I have a hard time finding the pace for my 4.5 year old.)

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5 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

What do you mean about "novel"? 🙂 

I tend to teach very conceptually, so I basically start concepts as soon as a kid is ready for them. I also tend to lay a groundwork for later skills early, so we don't get stuck. 

We definitely move at whatever pace makes sense within that space, but it has wound up a lot more than 2 years ahead. It wasn't really the plan 🙂 . Just kind of happened that way. 

I would hardly argue with a math PhD over her math curriculum! 😉 

By „novel“ I mean moving problem sets laterally (like the aforementioned convoluted word problems) rather than moving vertically to superordinate skills of that makes sense.

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3 minutes ago, GracieJane said:

I would hardly argue with a math PhD over her math curriculum! 😉 

By „novel“ I mean moving problem sets laterally (like the aforementioned convoluted word problems) rather than moving vertically to superordinate skills of that makes sense.

Ah, yes, that makes sense. I suppose that's literally the opposite of what I do, lol -- I try to start concepts as early as possible, but I don't worry a ton about making things more complicated or difficult as long as I feel like kids are getting a good feel for the concepts from a good variety of angles. 

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7 minutes ago, Clarita said:

(I have a hard time finding the pace for my 4.5 year old.)

What kind of math have you been doing with your 4.5 year old?

I have a recommendation: the author of "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" wrote another book in the 60s called "Give Your Child a Superior Mind." At the end there's a math curriculum for four-year-olds, that I had a great time following with my kid aged 5.5.

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11 minutes ago, Clarita said:

So when you do this do you present the same hard thing every day until it becomes easy, just work through problem after problem like this through the entire workbook, or something else entirely? 

(I have a hard time finding the pace for my 4.5 year old.)

I personally vary things up so my kids don't get bored 🙂 . I do all the operations early, for example, and I'm probably going to do negatives with my 5 year old soon. 

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1 hour ago, UHP said:

What kind of math have you been doing with your 4.5 year old?

The only one that really worked with him (that I tried) is the Montessori scope and sequence. Then, I feel like we are just a tad slow. We are going to do adding with "borrowing" next. In this case he can explore more complicated math with the materials on his own beyond what we are doing in the official lesson. Like he can explore algebra while we are learning to add and exchange for 10s.

I tried Singapore pre-k with him and that was a waste of money. He blew through the book in a month. 

I'll check "Give Your Child a Superior Mind" book out. Thanks! 

3 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I personally vary things up so my kids don't get bored 🙂 .

I tell him random stuff while we do life, but I'm not talented enough to do that for our "formal" lesson time. I have to study what/how I can explain something to him before doing it. 

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Jumping in a bit late.

I don’t hesitate to condense & accelerate material, but I am reluctant to skip it entirely. I’m more likely to hunt for curricula with a higher built-in challenge level at that point.

When accelerating through RightStart wasn’t working, we moved to Singapore & used the Intensive Practice book en lieu of the Workbook. Then we hopped over to BA & that’s where we’ve been ever since. We also incorporate lots of mathy novels (began with picture books), tabletop games, & other activities. 

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You may be able to skip right into Beast Academy 2A. They give a pretest on their website, so you will see if it is at the right level. BA is a very fun (with math and logic puzzles) and yet rigorous approach to math that requires thinking and truly understanding the material more than repetition.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/2/2021 at 6:01 PM, UHP said:

I have a recommendation: the author of "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" wrote another book in the 60s called "Give Your Child a Superior Mind." At the end there's a math curriculum for four-year-olds, that I had a great time following with my kid aged 5.5.

My library doesn't have a copy and Amazon is selling some copies "Superior Mind" for close to $1000!  I'm curious could you drill down on what you like about his math curriculum or maybe share some photos?   

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24 minutes ago, daijobu said:

I'm curious could you drill down on what you like about his math curriculum or maybe share some photos?   

I've written a little bit about it here: 1 2 3 4. Links 2 3 and 4 have long excerpts.

My copy cost 60 dollars, I see there are some on amazon for under 50. I can't explain! When I see a crummy paperback for 1000 dollars on amazon I sometimes wonder if there is a flawed computer program setting the prices.

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My son did 1A as and after school project at 5.  I wouldn't say going through it quickly at nearly 6 is surprising.  You don't need to do every problem or you can skip the workbook altogether if you have the text with problem sets.  Or you replace it with one of the more challenging Singapore workbooks.  I only used a bit because of the cost of getting them though.

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