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Frustrated with Math...help please!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My dd who 8 yrs old is driving me crazy

the problem is Math !!!

I will sit there explain it to her..she will look at me with vacant eyes....as if she is saying Duh!!!

ill ask if she gets it...she will start stuttering trying to stall..then i get mad...have to get on to her cause she is not paying att... then finally after tears..some times mine ,sometimes hers..she will straitenup and pay att and actually learn and answer questions Correctly..

its a visous cycle...

It makes me not want to even teach her math

like tonight we were doing lang. did 4 pages easy ...no issues...

but then math happen...she was doing clocks..now i have sat so many times explained them to her...she has done soooo many worksheets and gotten them right..so i know she knows it...

well tonight she got everyone wrong!!! she couldnt even tell me the hour or min hand ...

so out of frustration i told her she going to public school..( did not mean it..not really)

i know i shouldnt threaten but i just am starting to feel very aggravated that every time it comes to math she either doesnt pay att. or completely forgets and makes me have to get on to her to do her work...

but with science,history and lang she is fine. ...

it would be one thing if this happend once in a blue moon but its EVERY time.....

sometimes i wonder if i am doing something wrong like does she need school to learn math?

she has done abeka and computer math...and i cant afford to just start buying different curriculum's kwim

like right now she has learned

add.- single & dbl & triple

sub. -single



intro into fractions

clocks (thou she apparently forgotten again)


counting my 5,10's (she can count by smaller numbers but stills gets jumbled a bit)

and counting in general like she can count, but the other day every time she got to 119 or 219 or 319 ect she would just jump to 200 300 400 ect..like she couldnt grasp at the moment she needed to go 120, 220 ,320

like is this normal ???

we still have a few months left for our year (we school yr round) and so she is finishing up her 2nd yr...but she is defiantly not at grade level in math(not that i feel a child has to learn something by a certain age ..but still i want her to progress not regress )..she hasnt even start multiplication which i dont think she is ready for

I know she is smart because she is so educated on science and history (she loves watching documentarys) like she tells me stuff...and in lang she progressing at a reg pace....

but in math she like moves forward 1 step the back 2..kwim

sigh....sorry to ramble soo long but i need some advice please...

Thanks so much in advance
post #2 of 12

I think there is a relationship dynamic that needs to change before anything else does.

Could you think clearly if you had someone standing over you, pressuring you, mad at you, and threatening you? Heck, I'm an adult, and I don't deal with that well.

My son was having trouble with math, and yes it was frustrating because I knew he was plenty smart, and could do it. But he wasn't ready. Something wasn't clicking.

I had to back way, way off. I went back to the point where I could see he had started to get a little shaky. We did a little every day. Not to make him learn, but to give him the opportunity to practice and gain confidence. He's got a brilliant mind for words, and for problem solving. Memorizing tables and lists are not his thing. He just needed more time and less fire-breathing from Mama.

Your daughter may not have the same grade-level abilities for math as for other disciplines. That's not a horrible thing, and she'll probably do better if she's given a little space to breathe. When I was going through this with my son, I realized that algebra didn't "click" for me until I was in my mid-twenties. Before that, it was a struggle. Afterwards, no problem. But my brain wasn't ready for it at 14, and so I hated it.
post #3 of 12
This article may help you: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...r-own-learning

And I bought this book based on the reviews. I just got it today so I haven't read it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/020...ef=oss_product
post #4 of 12
Some thoughts:

now i have sat so many times explained them to her...she has done soooo many worksheets and gotten them right..so i know she knows it... well tonight she got everyone wrong!!
If you in fact knew that she knew it, then why make her do more worksheets on it?

Either she does know it, and she's doing poorly on the new sheet because she's bored stiff by it and just not caring (which is not an attitude we want to encourage about education!) ... Or, she doesn't actually know it, and only did well on previous worksheets due to prompting, or following a pattern, or 'sort of' getting it enough to get by without really absorbing it.

So one thing to consider, is exactly where the problem is. If it's actually a problem with comprehension, then a new approach is needed -- either a new curriculum or just a revisiting of how you're sitting down to 'do math' together.

But if it's a problem of just "doing the work" though she actually does understand it... then you have to ask yourself, why do you need for her to continue proving, over and over, than she does indeed know this stuff.

My guess would be leaning more towards the "not really having true comprehension" side of things, if only because that is really, really common at this age, and also really, really common with a whole lot of math curricula. They teach tricks and formulas and you do endless worksheets which are completely abstract and separate from real life... and they get no real understanding of what math MEANS. It's just a meaningless TASK to be done.

I had a very, very similar situation with my son when he was that age. I finally did exactly what cappucinosmom said... I backed COMPLETELY off. His "grade 3" year, we did NO formal math WHATSOEVER.

At the end of the year, we do standardized testing (kept his dad, my ex, pacified). At the end of grade 2, his grade equivalent for math was something like 1.8. At the end of grade 3, where we had done NO MATH (just a quick dash through a 'homework helper' kind of book a few weeks before the test as a refresher), he got like a 4.8 equivalent.

Yup -- he progressed MORE when we did NOTHING.

I have come to believe quite firmly that 90% of early math learning is DEVELOPMENTAL rather than TAUGHT. In other words, kids will understand what they're ready to understand. When they're ready to understand it, they will generally understand it quite quickly and quite thoroughly. Before that point, though, you're just beating both your heads against a wall, for no other reason than trying to keep up with a completely ARTIFICIAL and ARBITRARY 'scope and sequence' devised by governments to keep uniformity across school boards... with no real connection to how kids develop, especially as individuals!

We also eventually switched to a more hands-on math program, which also emphasizes COMPREHENSION and not just rote worksheets... That's RightStart, and it has made all the difference. I'm now using RightStart with my younger daughter from the beginning, but being very careful to go at HER pace.

RightStart is only one great program, there are other options as well -- including just dropping math altogether and picking it up later when she's ready to be receptive to it. You could do some reading on Montessori philosophies and how it relates to children leading their own learning, and the kinds of activities they do before doing "worksheet" math. You could do some research on Waldorf philosophies, and how they do math completely differently, it's all story-based and artistic. Noble Knights of Knowledge is a really, really cool math program based on Waldorf principles.

You could check out the old report of the independent school, where the kids did no real math at all until grade 6, then decided they wanted to do it, and learned the whole up-to-grade-6 curriculum in a matter of weeks. SO MUCH of elementary math is repeated year after year after year... There's really no big harm in waiting until they're ready to take a big bite, rather than spoonfeeding it a nibble at a time for years and years.

But anyway... yeah, everything you say is "normal", but it doesn't HAVE to be. It's not because she's "stupid" or anything. She might just be a 'late bloomer' math-wise, or she might be just "fine" and just needs a different approach. In either case, it's NOT worth getting mad at her about. I KNOW THIS FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. It took us YEARS to heal from how I treated his early learning!!! He grew to despise all external efforts to 'teach' him anything!

If something's not working, most of the time it is NOT the kid's fault. It's in our own misconceptions about what their learning should look like (which is also not really OUR fault either, we're programmed to think a certain way based on our own schooling...), and it's in shoddy curricula that are no better than what they'd get in the public schools.

My 2 cents.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your advice...I am going to check out the sites,but I am thinking that maybe backing off for a while might be the best option....
Just focus on her other studies for awhile....
post #6 of 12
I would suggest you both spend a good length of time doing something you both enjoy. This might be reading for pleasure, puzzles, board games, crafts, ect.

After you b o t h have had a change to recoup..then I would slowly work in lessons on things that she does well. Give her a chance to feel confident instead of pressured. I would spend some time looking for fun ways to learn math when your ready. If something is difficult..it doesn't have to be a worksheet or book. She might have a different learning style when it comes to certain subjects. My ds really enjoys trying to solve mysteries. I found a couple of mystery type activity packets from Hilights Magazine and I will sometimes bring those out when we are having a hard day. He doesn't notice he is learning geography, math, spelling, or reading when we do this.
post #7 of 12
Since math seems to be the difficult subject for her, maybe she isn't trying to have an attitude. You say everything is great with language, etc. So, when things get super frustrating, it is easy to act out. Also, if you think it is too easy (or if it is very confusing) it is hard to pay attention.

I would just play with math over the summer--do games that use the skills she already has to reinforce them. Then, I would assess her before you start in the fall to see what has been retained or lost. Finally, I would try as much hands on as possible. If she truly did lots of worksheets on clocks and then doesn't understand clocks, then the worksheets seem to be a waste of time.

Finally, you might consider dycalculia -- http://www.dyscalculia.org/

post #8 of 12
I agree with the previous poster... much of math is developmental, and can only be learned when the child is ready. In fact, WILL be learned when the child is ready.

On the other hand... I have an 8 year old who is struggling with math right now, too. To the point of tears and yelling most days. But I also feel like she's just very, very emotional about it now... not that she really couldn't do the work if she could get a handle on her emotions. So, rather than taking a complete break, we're taking a "watching" break. She sits next to me and watches me do her lesson. I talk through every step of the process, so she can hear the reasoning behind things... and she doesn't have any pressure to give answers or do any writing. (That's another struggle for her... I think there's probably some dyslexia going on, so writing is tough.) So math is still happening every day, but I'm trying to relieve some of the emotions that are making it impossible for her to even think about it.

Thanks for bringing up the topic. I'm finding lots to think about here.
post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by Gracefulmom View Post
and she doesn't have any pressure to give answers or do any writing. (That's another struggle for her... I think there's probably some dyslexia going on, so writing is tough.) So math is still happening every day, but I'm trying to relieve some of the emotions that are making it impossible for her to even think about it.
That's a great point (emotions really can interfere with the learning). My 7 yr old is dyslexic and hates "writing" too. We do oral math often. It really helps.

post #10 of 12
Sometimes, a child gets stuck on a concept. When that happens, we try to sort of surf around in that area, do review, pull from other resources. Try to come up with creative ways to explain the concept and try it out. Once she relaxes, which can take time, it will be easier to learn.
post #11 of 12
Maybe she is "stuck" or maybe she is just bored. Whatever the reason, she is telling you that she needs some time and space before she is ready to "progress" - I agree with the other PPs that a break is much needed and a new approach too.
Try to incorporate her into math on a daily basis - cooking, shopping, weighing the produce, etc. I bought DS an old fashion clock style watch and am letting him figure it out himself (he alreayd gets the digital). He looks at it, looks at the digital clock and is slowly getting it - and now asking us questions about it. Board games, card games, puzzles, blocks, tanagrams, etc - all great fun no pressure ways to sneak in some math time AND to reconnect.

Sometimes there is anxiety over demostrating a skill - especially if she is bright. Really bright kids tend to be incredibly sensitive and inituitive too - and often harder critics on themselves. Some can be afraid to try something new for fear of failure or struggle - cuz they are "supposed to be smart"
I remember sitting for HOURS doing (or not doing) homework at that age - I was bored and miserable. I HATED it. My mom would yell and tell me that she knew I was capable of the work and that I was "just being lazy." Which just made it soooo much worse, and honestly has stuck with me to this day. It was a daily ordeal until we moved and my new school accelerated me a whole grade. The challenge and stimulation made a huge difference for me - I would do all my homework independently in a half hour, rather than 3+ hours of torture. even now, if I am not stimulated, I find it hard to focus on task. It is not laziness, just my mind is going so fast on so many different things, it needs motivation to concentrate on one particular thing. especially if it is super basic. Basic is FRUSTRATING. Like this is such a waste of my time, I could be doing...and the list in my head starts.

Kids learn in different ways too - maybe the worksheet format is just not working for her. You said she loves history and documentaries. And really excells in that - perhaps cuz it is a visual thing? Definitely more stimulating than a worksheet.
I would read up on Visual Spatial Learners. I just discovered this, and WOW! I describes my son perfectly - and me too!! I wish someone had handed this to my parents when I was a kid! We are going to try out the Miquon books with DS for math - since it discovery based and cheap (I just paid $4 a book!) and supposed to be great for VSL. Heard RS is awesome too, but I don't have the cash to lay out for that right now.

GL mama. Atleast you are seeing there is a problem and actively looking for a solution. Not all kiddos are that lucky - Kudos to you.
post #12 of 12
I just read this great article on the benefits of delaying math education:

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