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    Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

    Good morning Mamas. I need ya. After the incredible tension and anxiety I felt yesterday, I am so thankful for a new morning and especially for this forum, rich with sound advice, cuz I'm dyin' over here. (No pressure, girls).

    I'll try to keep this brief. I have 4 kiddos. My #2, daughter, 4th grader, age 9 1/2, is, in general, more of a challenge. Hard to describe in typing (In an ideal world, I would hash this out with someone over the phone, or over coffee. And cake. All of the cake.) She is prickly. Hard to get next to. Seems to have a protective wall up.

    We took a little time off of regular Rod and Staff math a couple of months ago to drill multiplication flash cards, because math facts were/are an issue. So, she is now "behind" in math. I've told her we need to try to complete two lessons/day. Which has proven to be impossible. And maddening. Math is a real struggle for her. I feel like I've explained all I know how to. (I don't happen to be a math genius either). So, I need advice on whether I should maybe look into a math tutor to get her caught up? (I thought it might be helpful to change the person in authority for a minute too, to let tension subside, Lord willing). Is there another math curriculum I should look into?

    She can do other subjects sufficiently, IF SHE CHOOSES TO. So, the subject of math is a struggle intellectually, but other subjects are a struggle OF THE WILL. She will play with any and all things she can get her hands on, get up, walk around, get a snack, go to the bathroom, offer to do any other thing in the universe other than her school work, blah, blah, blah. It is completely exhausting my whole self trying to keep track of where all of the humans are physically, whether they are on task, actually making progress on their work, etc.

    Our whole home is not in disorder as this may imply. (Let's please not discuss the unfolded -yet clean- laundry). My 6th grader works pretty well independently, and my 1st grader works relatively well if I am sitting with her. But there are components of our school time that are making me want to resign. I am so demoralized and it is putting an incredible strain on my relationship with my daughter but makes me pretty unpleasant with everyone else too.

    Thanks girls. I am grateful for your time.
    Amy

    #2
    Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

    If normal tactics aren't working (no [insert activity] until school is done, etc) then you may want to consider that this is more than a heart issue. Many times, kids with various learning challenges, ADHD, or general executive function challenges will be extra stubborn. It's a self-defense mechanism because they feel overwhelmed or that the task before them is beyond their capability or that it will take so.much.time.
    Jennifer
    Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

    DS16
    MP: Lit 10, VideoText Algebra
    MPOA: High School Comp. II
    HSC: Spanish I, Conceptual Physics, Modern European History, and electives

    DS15
    MP: Biology, Lit 10, VideoText Algebra, Greek Tragedies
    MPOA: High School Comp. II, Fourth Form Latin
    HSC: Modern European History

    DS12
    7M with:
    Second Form Latin, EGR III, and HSC for US History

    DS11
    SC Level 4

    DD9
    3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

    DD7/8
    Still in SC Level 2

    DD 4/5
    SC Level C

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

      We’ve had a challenging year and our math time was often as you described. We hired a tutor and it has made a world of difference. We did a lot of troubleshooting before we got to this point but ultimately I realized it had to be outsourced. My daughter is more motivated in math now and she’s excelling. Sorry I don’t have anything really practical to offer. Just an encouragement that outsourcing can be a good option.
      Katy
      2017-2018
      DD 8, 3A
      DS 4, Junior Kindergartem

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

        Originally posted by jen1134 View Post
        If normal tactics aren't working (no [insert activity] until school is done, etc) then you may want to consider that this is more than a heart issue. Many times, kids with various learning challenges, ADHD, or general executive function challenges will be extra stubborn. It's a self-defense mechanism because they feel overwhelmed or that the task before them is beyond their capability or that it will take so.much.time.
        I'm with Jen! My oldest is going to be nine. We found the "special needs" forum by accident though when she was 6. At the time I didn't think there was a thing "wrong" with her. In the end, we had her evaluated and the evaluator commented that it was good she was here now. A child (especially girls) with mild learning challenges can usually sail through the younger grades. The evaluator said we would have been more likely to find the issue at 3rd/4th grade. I am not saying you should run out and seek an evaluation, but perhaps you can re-evaluate your situation and try not to "catch her up"? It is possible that she dawdles because the material is too hard for her? Is she doing 4A? Is she doing the 4M? Are you sitting with her to answer her student guides? Can you give us an idea of how her day is structured?
        Christine

        (2019/2020)
        DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
        DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
        DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

        Previous Years
        DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
        DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
        DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

          Jen, so helpful. Tell me more about "executive function challenges". How would I determine if that is the issue? "Extra stubborn" is such a perfect description. She has many great qualities but they are rather concealed by all of the anguish.

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

            Originally posted by amyjamison View Post
            Good morning Mamas. I need ya. After the incredible tension and anxiety I felt yesterday, I am so thankful for a new morning and especially for this forum, rich with sound advice, cuz I'm dyin' over here. (No pressure, girls).

            I'll try to keep this brief. I have 4 kiddos. My #2, daughter, 4th grader, age 9 1/2, is, in general, more of a challenge. Hard to describe in typing (In an ideal world, I would hash this out with someone over the phone, or over coffee. And cake. All of the cake.) She is prickly. Hard to get next to. Seems to have a protective wall up.

            We took a little time off of regular Rod and Staff math a couple of months ago to drill multiplication flash cards, because math facts were/are an issue. So, she is now "behind" in math. I've told her we need to try to complete two lessons/day. Which has proven to be impossible. And maddening. Math is a real struggle for her. I feel like I've explained all I know how to. (I don't happen to be a math genius either). So, I need advice on whether I should maybe look into a math tutor to get her caught up? (I thought it might be helpful to change the person in authority for a minute too, to let tension subside, Lord willing). Is there another math curriculum I should look into?

            She can do other subjects sufficiently, IF SHE CHOOSES TO. So, the subject of math is a struggle intellectually, but other subjects are a struggle OF THE WILL. She will play with any and all things she can get her hands on, get up, walk around, get a snack, go to the bathroom, offer to do any other thing in the universe other than her school work, blah, blah, blah. It is completely exhausting my whole self trying to keep track of where all of the humans are physically, whether they are on task, actually making progress on their work, etc.

            Our whole home is not in disorder as this may imply. (Let's please not discuss the unfolded -yet clean- laundry). My 6th grader works pretty well independently, and my 1st grader works relatively well if I am sitting with her. But there are components of our school time that are making me want to resign. I am so demoralized and it is putting an incredible strain on my relationship with my daughter but makes me pretty unpleasant with everyone else too.

            Thanks girls. I am grateful for your time.
            Amy
            I am not an expert, and we don't use R&S, so grains of salt and all that:

            In your shoes I think I would try to forget about being "behind" and require one lesson per day, or switch to having "math time" where she is required to work for 45mins and then she is done as long as she works mostly diligently for that time. Part of the issue may be that her day's math lessons look so overwhelming that it seems like an eternity to her, and thus she makes it take an eternity.

            The other thing I might do is look at a couple of placement tests for different math programs (CLE, Horizons, Beast Academy come to mind) and have her take a few of them (over the course of a week or something) to see if you can identify what is tripping her up or where she might have some gaps that she's compensating for with her, um, reluctance. Or take a week or two to do something like Kahn Academy where she does her math time online, with instruction from someone else, and it identifies her weak spots and explains stuff for her (bonus, it is free-er than a math tutor, although definitely not the same thing).

            In short (too late!), I would forget about her being behind and try a couple different things because she may have just hit a wall that takes a bit of time to get over, and trying to plow through at a fast pace to keep up will just crush everyone's spirits. We do some form of math all summer long, so this wouldn't be a huge deal for us here, but you might not want to do math all summer either. Last summer my kids did Prodigy and they loved that (another online math program that is in the form of a game).

            Also, when we dealt with this, I found that on a spiritual level it was God using my kid's math to teach me that He brought these tiny people into my life to unearth places in my heart that I thought didn't need work. I was a totally patient person until I had a kid with math struggles. I hope this doesn't sound prideful as he's still digging out those pesky sins of mine through my kids, but just know that He's there in the struggle he sees you and your daughter and He has redeemed all of this for his glory.

            Signed,
            Your Friend, whose kids have brought her to tears over math at one point too.
            Jodi
            ~~~~~~~
            2019-20 School Year:
            Ethan (7A)
            Matthew (5A)
            Silas (1st)
            Eleanor (4yo dabbling in PK as time allows)
            Andrew (brand new as of Oct 2019)

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

              If there was a learning issue, would that show itself in a Cottage school setting necessarily? This is our first year doing Cottage school and she has done very well. All As on her last report card. She is taking Narrative, Famous Men of Rome, First Form, and Literature.
              As far as daily structure, she wakes up around 8:00 but I usually have to wake her up (very deep sleeper, and still wets at night), eats breakfast and then we try to start school by 9:00. Lately I have been sitting at the kitchen table with her and my 1st grader, trying to maintain more supervision on all of the people lest they wander off. Lunch at noon'ish. Finish schoolwork after lunch. Lord willing.

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

                Amy,
                Oi vay. Tough situation, indeed. From all the personalities I have running around my house, I have one and only one dear child who probably fits the description of your daughter to a "T." So I am going to suggest a few things based off our experience of raising her, and hope that it will help you as well.

                First, the "prickly" part got me. We have this as well. But something I have found is that she is incredibly sensitive - so much so that I have found that at the moment I most want to yell at her, what she most likely needs is a good, solid, deep hug. I am not being trite here...it is a real, physical need. She will often not respond at first, but if I wait, she will melt and relax and the storm will start to pass.

                Second, the math. Oh, the math. Yes, this used to be one of her most difficult subjects as well...not because she could not do it, but it was just...

                *not what she wanted to be doing*

                And so it would be a battle every.single.day. First, if I were you I would back off with the idea that "we're behind and we need to catch up." That would have added a ton more pressure to my daughter and would have made her resist even more. Any time I raise the stress level for her - even if it is just a decision about breakfast - it is counter-productive. I still do it at times, because I am trying to help her move beyond her "normal" reactions, but I also know when I am fighting a losing battle. This sort of "let's catch up" thing would not go well for us. I would eliminate the pressure and simply do a lesson a day just like the book intends. But something I did at this age was that I allowed her to do most of it orally. She is wicked-smart, and math is simply a painfully-dull activity for her. To get through the rough patch, and to help her move as quickly as she wanted to, we would blast through most of it, and then she may only have ten problems that she had to actually write out. Something about having me help her, as well as go so much faster, was the kicker that got her over this hump. We did it that way for probably a year and a half before she took over and was able to handle doing her math herself. I would give these suggestions a try before either switching programs (because I really doubt that would help) or hiring a tutor (which is expensive and a last resort).

                As for the behavior with the rest of the day, YEP. Nodding my head right along with your description. Trust me, I continue to beat my head against my kitchen counter every day to watch her "pace." She even has a nickname....SAM (slow-as-molasses). When she was your daughter's age, I worried about this a lot more than I do now. Because I have seen her come through like a champ when the situation calls for it. I have seen her handle situations that a person twice or three times her age would have struggled with or been unable to handle emotionally. She IS HER OWN PERSON and I have to accept that every single day. It is too well-ingrained in her for me to be able to change it. But we work at it gradually, day-by-day and give her the space she needs to mature. We still place our expectations on her, but I have also back-off from micro-managing her. Your daughter is young enough for you to still keep tabs on her, giving her a suggestion of what to do next, etc. But the basic principle I would stress is to realize that your path with this child is not going to be the norm. Help her be a productive person, but it is going to have to be on her own terms. For us, it is a balance between my stubbornness (which is aimed at helping her become a civilized, competent person in society) and her stubbornness (which is aimed at implementing her own plan).

                I know this is not concrete help (aside from the math), but I suspect you will need to come up with your ability to handle your daughter according to what works for her. I just want to really support you, and acknowledge that these "challenging" kids march to their own rhythm, and thus far, I have not been able to "change" it...we are rather trying to "direct" it. Because the flipside of this challenging personality is that she has amazing potential. She has gifts and talents that are all her own, but that don't fit neatly into a single direction. This is the kind of kid that could either conquer the world, or live quietly in a library reading every single book. I don't really know yet which one that will be - but I lean toward conquering the world! (because she is a FIGHTER!....wonder where she got that???)

                Hugs to you this morning, and boy, does that coffee and cake sound wonderful!
                AMDG,
                Sarah
                2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                DS, 16
                DD, 14
                DD, 12
                DD, 10
                DD, 7.5
                DD, 5.5
                +DS+
                DS, 18 months

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Advice for Math, and Also Challenging Child in General

                  First, I very much agree with what Jodi said!! As for executive function, etc. — if she’s not struggling in her other subjects or isn’t showing similar trouble in daily life, then I would follow Jodi’s recommendation and see if things improve. If they don’t (give it a few months) then you might want to consider an eval for math-related learning challenges.
                  Jennifer
                  Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

                  DS16
                  MP: Lit 10, VideoText Algebra
                  MPOA: High School Comp. II
                  HSC: Spanish I, Conceptual Physics, Modern European History, and electives

                  DS15
                  MP: Biology, Lit 10, VideoText Algebra, Greek Tragedies
                  MPOA: High School Comp. II, Fourth Form Latin
                  HSC: Modern European History

                  DS12
                  7M with:
                  Second Form Latin, EGR III, and HSC for US History

                  DS11
                  SC Level 4

                  DD9
                  3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

                  DD7/8
                  Still in SC Level 2

                  DD 4/5
                  SC Level C

                  Comment

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