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    Math Trouble

    My bright, very verbally-oriented 3A daughter is not doing well in math. Specifically, she is really slow to memorize the multiplication/division facts. Normally I have her complete all the facts she knows in the lesson amd then allow her to use a chart to look up the other answers. (Of course, we follow up with flashcards. We don't do the speed drills because, for this child, they only reinforce "failure.")

    Today I did not allow her to use a chart: she got only 57% correct. She's on lesson 144, so she's done multiplication up to the 9s and division through the 8s. (Strangely, she knows all the facts with 12s--and of course the easy x10s and x11s--but 6x7, nope, no matter how many times she's seen it. She has demonstrated that she can memorize facts; it's just painfully slow and seemingly without rhyme or reason.

    My question is, what do we do next year? Move on to R&S 4 since these facts are reviewed, repeat R&S 3 but faster, or do 3rd grade in another math curriculum? I am going to keep working with her over the summer. Any suggestions for materials to use then?
    Heather

    DD 9, MP 4A
    DD 6, MP 2
    DS 4 & DS 4--going to Pre-K three mornings/week
    DS 1

    #2
    Re: Math Trouble

    Hi Heather.

    Please know that R&S Math 4 moves into fractions, so simply moving your daughter into the 4th grade curriculum probably isn't the wisest idea. When I used to tutor math students (5th - 8th), the number 1 issue the students had was that they had failed to master the multiplication tables in earlier grades. In fact, in my (mathy) viewpoint, addition and subtraction facts are equivalent to the ABCs and multiplication/division facts are equivalent to phonics in Language Arts. There is simply no point in "learning to read" if a child doesn't know her phonics. Therefore, there is simply no point in continuing if your child hasn't mastered her multiplication facts yet. Multiplication facts, at the basic level, are simply exposure, exposure, exposure.

    That said, it's time to stop everything and only master the multiplication facts, no "cheat charts" in sight. I recommend the method of starting your child where she is comfortable, then moving forward:

    1. Re-sort the flash cards into 1's, 2's, etc.

    2. Either in order or mixed, hold up the flash cards for her, one family at a time. If she can get the answer in 1-2 seconds, place it in the KNOWN pile. If not, place it in the UNKNOWN pile. Don't be discouraged if the KNOWN pile is small the first time through this exercise.

    3. On the first day, do only a few sets (1-3 or 1-4.... 1-5 if things are going well). Now quiz through the KNOWN and the UNKNOWN again. Spend 15 mins "doing math".

    4. Each day, quiz both sets, starting with the known. Slowly add a new family, creating a third stack. Quiz every stack, slowly adding the "new family" into the known or unknown stacks.

    5. Continue to "go for time". Don't let yourself add a new card to the KNOWN set until your child can answer in only 2 seconds.

    6. To really make progress, do the flash card drills in *both* the am and the pm. Maybe Daddy can quiz a set at night.


    It's important to remain calm and firm during this process. Stay matter of fact, "Honey, we are going to stop our textbook math for a bit and master the multiplication facts until you are very sure of them. This is an important third grade skill, so let's get this taken care of, shall we?" One of the true beauties of Rod and Staff math is that it focuses only ON math facts for years, leaving "other" math topics aside until the facts are mastered. Your bright daughter can master these math facts, but simply needs to get the needed reinforcement now before she loses her confidence. She would be better served to gain her confidence now in flash card drills, leaving the textbook aside (especially if she is using a chart for her work... yikes), even if that means she picks up the 3rd grade math book next year.

    On the bright side, if you follow the MP math progression "as written" your child will have Algebra credit before high school. OTOH, not every student is *ready* for that!!!



    Jen
    DS, 28 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace)

    DS, 26 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

    DD, 23 yrs, graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; 2nd grade teacher.

    DS, 13 yrs, 9th grade; attends a private classical school, 7th - 12th.

    All homeschooled for some/all of their K-12 education.

    Me: retired after 16 years of continuous homeschooling, now a high school chemistry teacher at a large Catholic high school

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Math Trouble

      Jen in Japan,
      I hope you don't mind if I steal this advice for my first grader as well. She has suddenly forgotten half of her addition facts (dont get me started on substraction) and is torturing us both by counting on her fingers for nearly every problem. This from the child who could add up to 10 before she was 3! They like to keep us guessing, don't they?

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Math Trouble

        Jen,
        This was great - so glad you are rejoining the ranks!

        AMDG,
        Sarah
        2020-2021
        16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
        DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
        DS, 17
        DD, 15
        DD, 13
        DD, 11
        DD, 9
        DD, 7
        +DS+
        DS, 2

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Math Trouble

          Yes, so stealing this as my own Jen, thanks!
          -Amy

          Nine babies, 6 graduated, 5 married, 17 grand babies 7 and under!
          2020/21 MP 3rd, 6th, 11th MPOA, College student. Starting 8th year using Memoria Press
          Director of Coop 412, a Classical Christian Coop using MP and based on Ephesians 4:12.

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Math Trouble

            My third grade daughter was having issues with multiplication as well. I know it's not MP curriculum, but we picked up Times Tales and it's worked wonders! It goes over the tricky tables from 4 to 9. She watched the video twice and has them down pat! Rod & Staff is very straight forward, and I like that. But, my youngest has an abstract way of learning and it sometimes isn't always a good fit for her. So we supplement with Khan Academy, YouTube videos with catchy tunes and instructional DVD's. This has worked wonders to solidify what she is learning.

            Beth
            Beth
            DD12 - 7M
            DD10 - 5M

            "When you're good to others, you are best to yourself."
            -Benjamin Franklin

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Math Trouble

              Jen,

              Thank you for laying this approach out so clearly for me. We are about to get started!

              Thanks, too, for the encouragement that she *will* learn these. I have been very frustrated, and not very patient, sadly. We will keep this up over the summer with the hope that she'll be ready for 4th in the fall. But, if we have to go slower, I know it's okay if she doesn't do Alegebra I in 8th grade. I think I just needed someone else to say it!
              Heather

              DD 9, MP 4A
              DD 6, MP 2
              DS 4 & DS 4--going to Pre-K three mornings/week
              DS 1

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Math Trouble

                Originally posted by GrammarGirl View Post
                Jen,

                Thank you for laying this approach out so clearly for me. We are about to get started!

                Thanks, too, for the encouragement that she *will* learn these. I have been very frustrated, and not very patient, sadly. We will keep this up over the summer with the hope that she'll be ready for 4th in the fall. But, if we have to go slower, I know it's okay if she doesn't do Alegebra I in 8th grade. I think I just needed someone else to say it!
                If it helps at all, I was not a strong math student and took Pre-Algebra in 8th and Algebra I in 9th

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Math Trouble

                  Originally posted by Michael View Post
                  If it helps at all, I was not a strong math student and took Pre-Algebra in 8th and Algebra I in 9th
                  Thank you, Michael. I graduated from a small Christian school that didn't even offer Algebra to 8th graders. My senior year, they couldn't find a teacher who could cover advanced math: so I got only Algebra I and II and geometry. No harm done; I became an English and history teacher ... who wasn't any good at helping kids with their math homework in study hall!
                  Heather

                  DD 9, MP 4A
                  DD 6, MP 2
                  DS 4 & DS 4--going to Pre-K three mornings/week
                  DS 1

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Math Trouble

                    While I agree that for some kids it just takes time to get the facts down pat and that repeated drill will eventually get you there, I would be concerned about a 3rd grader who cannot answer 6x7 on an untimed worksheet. Timed tests test for rapid recall and those who do not have their facts down pat will not be able to do well, but for untimed tests there is no reason to get any of these facts wrong. I wonder if she truely understands what multiplication actually is- repeated addition. A third grader who has been taught multiplication to the point of having to memorize all the facts should understand this concept. I have not used R&S but my understanding is that they do teach this concept quite well so a student should understand it. If a student cannot rapidly recall that 6x7=42, it should be easy enough to remember 6x6=36 (if you drill the squares) and then simply add 6 to get to 42. Or if they cannot remember 6x6 then they can do 6x10=60 and know that they need 3 fewer 6's (because 7 is 3 fewer than 10) so subtract 18 to get to 42. If nothing else, they should be able to mentally add 6+6=12+6=18+6=24+6=30+6=36+6=42. These tricks are not idea for taking timed tests or for rapid work later, but they are essential for those times that we have mental blocks and simply forget a memorized fact.
                    If she simply does not have the facts down to rapid recall, then I would let her use these mental "tricks" to get to the facts slowly until the rapid recall sets in better or maybe even use a facts chart while you continue to drill facts and go on to the next concept in the book. However, if she is not understanding what multiplication even is this might be making memorizing the facts much harder (memorizing random numbers is much harder than remembering numbers that follow a pattern) and will certainly affect her ability to do middle school level math. If she is not grasping the concept of multiplication, I would back up to the charts where each number fact was introduced and remind her how you are just adding groups of each number and have her practice skip counting with the pictures or reciting the facts with the pictures like they did when it was first introduced. Help her to see that the facts she is memorizing are simply skip counting or repeated addition.
                    Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
                    DD, 27, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
                    DS, 25, BS '18 mechanical engineering
                    DS, 23, BS '20 Chemsitry, pursuing phd at Wash U
                    (DDIL married #3 in 2020, MPOA grad, BA '20 philosophy, pusrsing phd at SLU)
                    DS, 21, Physics and math major
                    DD, 18, dyslexic, 12th grade dual enrolled
                    DS, 14, future engineer/scientist/ world conquerer 9th MPOA diploma student
                    DD, 8 , 2nd Future astronaut, robot building space artist

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Math Trouble

                      Originally posted by momgineer View Post
                      While I agree that for some kids it just takes time to get the facts down pat and that repeated drill will eventually get you there, I would be concerned about a 3rd grader who cannot answer 6x7 on an untimed worksheet. Timed tests test for rapid recall and those who do not have their facts down pat will not be able to do well, but for untimed tests there is no reason to get any of these facts wrong. I wonder if she truely understands what multiplication actually is- repeated addition. A third grader who has been taught multiplication to the point of having to memorize all the facts should understand this concept. I have not used R&S but my understanding is that they do teach this concept quite well so a student should understand it. If a student cannot rapidly recall that 6x7=42, it should be easy enough to remember 6x6=36 (if you drill the squares) and then simply add 6 to get to 42. Or if they cannot remember 6x6 then they can do 6x10=60 and know that they need 3 fewer 6's (because 7 is 3 fewer than 10) so subtract 18 to get to 42. If nothing else, they should be able to mentally add 6+6=12+6=18+6=24+6=30+6=36+6=42. These tricks are not idea for taking timed tests or for rapid work later, but they are essential for those times that we have mental blocks and simply forget a memorized fact.
                      If she simply does not have the facts down to rapid recall, then I would let her use these mental "tricks" to get to the facts slowly until the rapid recall sets in better or maybe even use a facts chart while you continue to drill facts and go on to the next concept in the book. However, if she is not understanding what multiplication even is this might be making memorizing the facts much harder (memorizing random numbers is much harder than remembering numbers that follow a pattern) and will certainly affect her ability to do middle school level math. If she is not grasping the concept of multiplication, I would back up to the charts where each number fact was introduced and remind her how you are just adding groups of each number and have her practice skip counting with the pictures or reciting the facts with the pictures like they did when it was first introduced. Help her to see that the facts she is memorizing are simply skip counting or repeated addition.
                      She does understand the concept and has used repeated addition to avoid failing a test! It takes forever to answer the problems that way.
                      Heather

                      DD 9, MP 4A
                      DD 6, MP 2
                      DS 4 & DS 4--going to Pre-K three mornings/week
                      DS 1

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Math Trouble

                        Currently I am teaching middle school science at a 200 student brick and mortar school. The 8th grade has just 18 students.

                        Only 7 are in Algebra I. Only 3 are passing Algebra I.

                        That's only a small sample by which to judge (17% of 8th grade is passing Algebra I), but with my own children, now adults, always in the high 90's percentiles in school, only 1 out of 3 understood Algebra at 13 yrs. The others tried to memorize the algorithms... until they just couldn't do it anymore. I have long looked at the MP sequence and understood that many families will need to adjust fire in math as needed by the end of high school.

                        How's that for mixing my metaphors?


                        Jen
                        DS, 28 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace)

                        DS, 26 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                        DD, 23 yrs, graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; 2nd grade teacher.

                        DS, 13 yrs, 9th grade; attends a private classical school, 7th - 12th.

                        All homeschooled for some/all of their K-12 education.

                        Me: retired after 16 years of continuous homeschooling, now a high school chemistry teacher at a large Catholic high school

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: Math Trouble

                          Originally posted by GrammarGirl View Post
                          She does understand the concept and has used repeated addition to avoid failing a test! It takes forever to answer the problems that way.
                          That's good that she understands this. Yes, these tricks take longer than brute memory. That's why we drill facts ad nauseam. But if she grasps the concept and continues to drill the memory will come. Personally, in my homeschool, I would be just fine moving on with concepts all while continueing to drill facts. Don't move on and stop trying to memorize facts. But also don't stress about needing to stay on the multiplication unit for a year or two just because she can't fully memorize the facts yet.
                          There are many great suggestions above for continued drill practice. Rest assured, it will eventually solidify in her brain.
                          Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
                          DD, 27, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
                          DS, 25, BS '18 mechanical engineering
                          DS, 23, BS '20 Chemsitry, pursuing phd at Wash U
                          (DDIL married #3 in 2020, MPOA grad, BA '20 philosophy, pusrsing phd at SLU)
                          DS, 21, Physics and math major
                          DD, 18, dyslexic, 12th grade dual enrolled
                          DS, 14, future engineer/scientist/ world conquerer 9th MPOA diploma student
                          DD, 8 , 2nd Future astronaut, robot building space artist

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: Math Trouble

                            Originally posted by momgineer View Post
                            Rest assured, it will eventually solidify in her brain.

                            Here's the most concise comment on the entire post.

                            Upon thinking of it... your child is in Math 3 right?... if it were me, I'd probably drill facts, facts, facts only for a few weeks, then back up a few lessons to where she seemed more confident, then gently move forward again. Although it's true that it makes no sense to allow her to use a "cheat sheet" and plow onward straight into Math 4, it might make sense to allow some of this to settle into her brain and to gel over time. Ideally, she will leave Math 3 believing in herself and believing that the multiplication tables are doable. Also, you are right: Math 4 picks up with multiplication, but I warn you that it does move very quickly into fractions!

                            As for the speed drills... you could give them to her *as her only written work of the day* (untimed), or you can set them up as a new milestone. Here's how I'd do it. I'd pick a drill from the booklet which I knew would not be too overwhelming, then let her take the test, timing it on your own watch. At the end, declare that THAT is the time to beat from now on. Even if it took her 5 mins to do the page, make that be the time that must be beaten. Every time she beats her goal time, she gets a sticker. If she doesn't beat it, oh well.

                            What we do: I set up a sticker chart for my 9 year old. For every 20 stickers, he gets to skip vegetables at a single dinner. Since my kids are veggie phobic, this is a desired reward. Simply pick a reward that she can work toward that is worth the long payout, but isn't too "expensive" for your tastes.


                            Good luck "baby stepping" her into multiplication confidence!


                            Jen
                            DS, 28 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace)

                            DS, 26 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                            DD, 23 yrs, graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; 2nd grade teacher.

                            DS, 13 yrs, 9th grade; attends a private classical school, 7th - 12th.

                            All homeschooled for some/all of their K-12 education.

                            Me: retired after 16 years of continuous homeschooling, now a high school chemistry teacher at a large Catholic high school

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: Math Trouble

                              Originally posted by Jen in Japan View Post
                              Here's the most concise comment on the entire post.

                              Upon thinking of it... your child is in Math 3 right?... if it were me, I'd probably drill facts, facts, facts only for a few weeks, then back up a few lessons to where she seemed more confident, then gently move forward again. Although it's true that it makes no sense to allow her to use a "cheat sheet" and plow onward straight into Math 4, it might make sense to allow some of this to settle into her brain and to gel over time. Ideally, she will leave Math 3 believing in herself and believing that the multiplication tables are doable. Also, you are right: Math 4 picks up with multiplication, but I warn you that it does move very quickly into fractions!

                              As for the speed drills... you could give them to her *as her only written work of the day* (untimed), or you can set them up as a new milestone. Here's how I'd do it. I'd pick a drill from the booklet which I knew would not be too overwhelming, then let her take the test, timing it on your own watch. At the end, declare that THAT is the time to beat from now on. Even if it took her 5 mins to do the page, make that be the time that must be beaten. Every time she beats her goal time, she gets a sticker. If she doesn't beat it, oh well.

                              What we do: I set up a sticker chart for my 9 year old. For every 20 stickers, he gets to skip vegetables at a single dinner. Since my kids are veggie phobic, this is a desired reward. Simply pick a reward that she can work toward that is worth the long payout, but isn't too "expensive" for your tastes.


                              Good luck "baby stepping" her into multiplication confidence!


                              Jen
                              I'd been thinking about doing something like that with the speed drills. I love the veggie idea as a motivator.

                              At this point in the year, I don't think it matters whether we finish the math book. There are very few new concepts to cover, and they'll all be covered again in 4th. She is pretty quick to pick up new concepts, so I am comfortable focusing on the facts. We did what you suggested with the flashcards today, and it really helped keep our day less angst-ridden. When I explained that a very knowledgable mom on the MP forum had suggested this approach, DD said, "This is what I've been asking you for!" Ugh, I should have listened when she said she needed more time before dumping more facts on her, but it's so hard to know when kids are just trying to get out of a challenge.
                              Heather

                              DD 9, MP 4A
                              DD 6, MP 2
                              DS 4 & DS 4--going to Pre-K three mornings/week
                              DS 1

                              Comment

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