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finger counting

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    finger counting

    Hello...I asked a question on one of the math threads in the other forum a while back, and someone kindly suggested I check over here for suggestions in the SC forum. I am not sure how to link to the other thread, I am sorry! A bit of background- I have a 9 year old son who has an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, probably the inattentive type of ADD, (psychologist didn't evaluate him, that is another story) and some other unrelated physical health problems, such as a heart problem, multiple severe allergies, asthma, icthyosis, and slight hypotonia. Wow, sounds like a lot when I write it all down like that! - but he's all around doing terrific, although he does have his issues.

    However my question is pretty simple. He is doing ok in math, but he consistently counts on his fingers. He can do it really quickly, so quickly in fact that he progresses nicely in things like X-tra Math , and can do speed drills pretty quickly, as long as they are the one-step kind. But- because of his reliance on counting on fingers so rapidly and habitually, even with skip counting all his multiplication/division problems- he is finding memorizing the facts almost impossible, which is slowing him up seriously in doing multi-step problems, because of the suspected ADD thing, if that makes any sense.. he loses his train of thought as he focuses on the skip counting part, and then freaks out when he has to turn his thoughts back to the next step in the problem at hand and can't remember what he was doing and why? Then the anxiety kicks in, temper flares, heads explode, ah, math is fun around here, lol!

    Any suggestions would be so greatly appreciated!
    DD 12, using 6M core with 7th Grade COTR
    DS 10, using 5M core

    #2
    Re: finger counting

    Hi, Maria.

    Do you think it would help to allow the fast finger counting for his work right now, but also double up on your efforts to teach math facts as Facts to Know (i.e., without fingers)?

    You could teach with flash cards for rapid recall, and have three piles.
    A = cards known without fingers. There are probably more of these than he might think. B = cards known but only with finger counting. C = unknown. Try to move all cards to the A pile over time. Explain that as his one-step problems become two- and three-step, he will appreciate being able to compute finger-free. Mark his progress in some way, so this becomes an encouraging, not anxiety inducing, part of his arithmetic lesson each day.

    If the mere mention of flash cards causes an anxious reaction, you could do this orally. You have cards, but you do not show him each one. You merely say, "3+5" and he responds. Then you place that card in pile A, B, or C.

    This work would be accomplished in lessons separate from his actual math homework. The hope would be an eventual transfer to fewer facts requiring fingers, and more facts recalled with automaticity.


    My son (Adhd, anxiety, hypotonia) used fingers too. At first in his "math life," this was not a hindrance. As he became older, recall was more important. So, too, the social advantages to mental calculation without fingers. If you can help him now, he may thank you later!

    Cheryl

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      #3
      Re: finger counting

      Originally posted by cherylswope View Post
      Hi, Maria.

      Do you think it would help to allow the fast finger counting for his work right now, but also double up on your efforts to teach math facts as Facts to Know (i.e., without fingers)?

      You could teach with flash cards for rapid recall, and have three piles.
      A = cards known without fingers. There are probably more of these than he might think. B = cards known but only with finger counting. C = unknown. Try to move all cards to the A pile over time. Explain that as his one-step problems become two- and three-step, he will appreciate being able to compute finger-free. Mark his progress in some way, so this becomes an encouraging, not anxiety inducing, part of his arithmetic lesson each day.

      If the mere mention of flash cards causes an anxious reaction, you could do this orally. You have cards, but you do not show him each one. You merely say, "3+5" and he responds. Then you place that card in pile A, B, or C.

      This work would be accomplished in lessons separate from his actual math homework. The hope would be an eventual transfer to fewer facts requiring fingers, and more facts recalled with automaticity.


      My son (Adhd, anxiety, hypotonia) used fingers too. At first in his "math life," this was not a hindrance. As he became older, recall was more important. So, too, the social advantages to mental calculation without fingers. If you can help him now, he may thank you later!

      Cheryl
      Thank you so much, Cheryl! We will try doing the facts separately from his normal math work time. The flashcards are a bit anxiety producing, as are games like extra math which is essentially flashcards. I did stop showing them, and instead ask a few facts in seqeunce for multiplication day after day until after a month he has 4 facts from the 6 multiplication set almost memorized. With multiplication, what seems to be helping a little bit is the sequence of facts- remembering where they fall in the sequence lets him stop skip counting with fingers and remember the answer. But I think when it comes to addition and subtraction in particular, he just doesn't know "how" he can can remember without using fingers. It's just so automatic to go to the fingers, that he does it even with things like 3-1 or 2+2. If I say try to just remember it without fingers, I can see him just using the fingers- but imagining them in his head instead of doing it physically- so that it looks like he is just remembering, but he is really just adding up or counting backwards in his head. I am not sure how to teach memory of facts to this child- there doesn't seem to be any hook to hang them on- without fingers, they are just a loose jumble of numbers floating around in his head with nothing to connect them to memory. Thank you for the suggestions! I really appreciate it!


      Maria
      DD 12, using 6M core with 7th Grade COTR
      DS 10, using 5M core

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