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1ST Grader failing math!

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure what to do, my DD is a young 6 year old and is not quite getting the math(addition and now subtraction) that is being taught in 1st grade.  I personally think they are presenting it too abstractly and she is just not there yet.  We get worksheets for homework and it is very confusing to her.  Anyone experience this w/ their 1st grader?  Any advice?

post #2 of 35

My son went to summer school in kindy and 1st grade for math.    he also rec'd extra help during school hours w/his math.   1st grade math is hard.   I think they do throw a lot of stuff at them and they are like WHOA!!   They touch on all topics and go back in detail as the year goes on with certain concepts.  Counting $$, telling time, patterns, adding, number groups, skip counting...etc.  

I don't have much advice, other than talk to the teacher.  I'm assuming P/T confs are soon for you also.   It was about this time last year DS was put into the intervention team for math (and also reading).  We discussed it at confs.   And it should get better.  2nd math seems to be much easier for DS.   So far it's been mostly a review.  No new concepts brought in.   But he tested out of math summer school this summer.   We did lots of worksheets and I would try to make anything I could a math lesson for him. Counting steps or squares in the tile, measuring, telling the time, making change and plain ol' wkshts I printed on line. 

post #3 of 35

 

It sounds like she would benefit if you make or buy some manipulatives to supplement the worksheets. You can use coins or beans or lego blocks or any small counters. Cuisinaire rods, bead strings, base 10 blocks.... if you don't want to make them, your local school supply store probably has a variety of manipulatives in stock. 

 

You can either use the manipulatives to work with the homework that the teacher sends home or work on games and activities with them as an extra.  

post #4 of 35

Like the above had said, she could benefit from manipulatives either homemade or store bought. Have her set-up the problems with beans. Make cards for the various symbols (+, -, =) so that she can place them where needed.

 

I also recommend an abacus. It can help a child that age visualize all sorts of math problems.

post #5 of 35

We are in the same boat.  DD's teacher has been helpful--she's given me the math workbook they use.  She also suggested we get DD a tutor which we're thinking about.  DD is not retaining much.  She'll get one question right on a worksheet but not the next--so I think she's guessing a lot.  We've been doing a lot of work at home. She's also having trouble reading and getting intervention help with that at school,but I don't think they do that for math in first grade.  She definitely does much better one on one than in the large class.

 

Things we do at home to make it fun is play a game like horse (for each question she gets right she gets closer to winning a piece of candy), if we're counting by 5's or 10's I'll have her do it while she's dancing or hopping up and down--she loves that.  We've also used skittles as our manipulatives.  (I sound like a candy pusher)  I just asked her teacher about old fashioned math flash cards, too, because I think she might do better with having some addition and subtraction memorized and in her pocket for word problems.

 

post #6 of 35

Just two words:  Singapore Math.  You can buy the workbooks for about $10 each.  It's a great curriculum.

 

What curriculum does your school use?  Many of the modern curricula are really terrible.  They're a mile wide and an inch deep.  They neglect skills and concepts that kids really need while wasting time on extraneous issues (lattice multiplication, anyone?) that don't really help.  That's why I recommend Singapore Math.  I used it for my older daughter and I'm planning to use it for my younger daughter when I've got her reading improved.

post #7 of 35

my son loves to play "math" on a website called www.ixl.com.  His school sent out summer homework and it was to do around 200 review problems on the site (he's in 2nd grade this year).  If you look, there is a whole "1st grade" with problems divided by specific category "adding numbers 1 thru 10".  He thought it was fun and it really helps review all the concepts.  He does a couple of categories a week to keep up with second grade math.

 

Good luck! 

 

Ps.  My son's second grade teacher has a theory that all math is based on the basic addition and subtraction facts, that if kids get those learned to the point of almost being second nature, that all math will be much easier.  We do flash cards with him on Thursdays just going over those math facts.  His average for the first quarter in math was 98, so it is working.

post #8 of 35

It's hard to understand if you can't actually see it.  Get me?  Since the Girls were little I've done things with math in almost everything we do.  We have to remember there are 100's of teaching moments a day. 

post #9 of 35

I would try going back to the basics to make sure she is comfortable with numeral recognition and one-to-one correspondence.  Also, the internet has a lot of free kindergarten math worksheets that could be helpful for her to try.  They focus on the basics and will help her get her confidence back, too.  

post #10 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for your great suggestions, I will definitely start with some basic manipulatives that we can use at home.  I don't know if they use the manipulatives a lot at school but I do know that those goofy worksheets can be very confusing for a beginner.  I'm trying to make it fun so that she doesn't get frustrated.  I do think that once she's able to think a little more abstractly the light bulb will come on.  I have tried some of the websites and am always searching for ones that are fun and well designed..any suggestions would be appreciated.  I am going to check out the learning store too.

post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by FedUpMom View Post

Just two words:  Singapore Math.  You can buy the workbooks for about $10 each.  It's a great curriculum.

 

What curriculum does your school use?  Many of the modern curricula are really terrible. 

I agree with both comments.

 

Does she not understand the concepts of addition & subtraction or not know the way that they're supposed to do the problems. My son's program is awful for the various ways they try to introduce the concepts. I always imagine that a student who has any trouble with the concept will be confused by doing "number partners" and then "equations" and then "number trees" that all are basic addition.
 

 

post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 

Yes, it seems like everyday they are introducing a new concept that is similiar to the one before it but called something different which she can't seem to keep track of.  I think I will just start with the basics(using manipulatives for addition/subtraction) and then work on the different concepts associated with that. 

I'm not impressed with the curriculum- I think it's Mcgraw-Hill.  I'm definitely going to check out Singapore Math as a few poeple have suggested.

post #13 of 35

We are homeschoolers, but I was getting frustrated with my 8 yo and math so I decided to make a change.  We have been using Dreambox (www.dreambox.com) and he really likes it.  It covers K - 3rd grade and costs $12.95 per month (less if you sign up for six months).  It tracks how your kid is progressing and moves along based on what they know and how fast they can do it.  It will also keep your kid's results for six months after you stop so if you decide to rejoin you start where you left off.  You can do a free two week trial before you pay.

 

Good Luck!  There shouldn't be so much pressure on math at 6.  No wonder so many people grow up hating math!!!!

post #14 of 35

Use manipulatives as often as you can with her-- suggest this to the teacher at school, too, that she have access to them.

 

Eventually she will not rely on them.  She will "see" them in her head-- for example, my husband thinks of numbers arranged like they are on playing cards.  Some people like to memorize the way numbers appear on a die.  There is also an abacus that she may like.

 

The process from moving to the abstract should not be rushed at all.  It is essential that she has this as a solid foundation. 

 

Don't think of your daughter as failing math, either-- think of it as the teacher failing to teach her math.  Big difference.

post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 

Wow! Thank you for your advice.  I do feel like the teacher may not be spending enough time on one topic but spending a day or two and then moving on to something else.  It's hard for me to focus on one concept with her when she brings home a different concept each day.  They are teaching strategies that are harder than the actual problems.  Example:  when adding 2 numbers such as 8+7 one could use doubles(7+7 and add 1) to figure it out.  How the h&!@ would she know that if she barely knows 2+2 and 3+3?  I think they are putting the cart before the horse.

post #16 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by somasomi View Post

  when adding 2 numbers such as 8+7 one could use doubles(7+7 and add 1) to figure it out.  How the h&!@ would she know that if she barely knows 2+2 and 3+3?  I think they are putting the cart before the horse.



Yeah, no good.  The 1st graders at DD's school (they use Everyday Math) are not at that level yet.  They are still doing math facts up to TEN, which is what they should be doing.  If they are beyond that, they get enrichment.

post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by somasomi View Post

  I do feel like the teacher may not be spending enough time on one topic but spending a day or two and then moving on to something else.  It's hard for me to focus on one concept with her when she brings home a different concept each day. 

 

That is the biggest complaint for Everyday Math. It jumps too much w/o skill building or making sure the skill is in place. The thought is that it circles back and retouches on topics....but that does not work for some kiddos!!

 

They are teaching strategies that are harder than the actual problems.  Example:  when adding 2 numbers such as 8+7 one could use doubles(7+7 and add 1) to figure it out.  How the h&!@ would she know that if she barely knows 2+2 and 3+3?  I think they are putting the cart before the horse.

 

 

Yup. That is what my DDs (also young 6) are doing in 1st grade. That said-- the basic facts were covered in K so the kids are EXPECTED to know the basic facts through 5 (any combo of numbers 0-5). So the thought is that they are building on what they learned in K. Not saying that is right, but that is the basic thought pattern for the schools (at least here)



Our school has done doubles up to 10, practiced math facts to 20 (required knowledge for 1st by the end of the year), counting pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, time to the hour/half hour, and patterning (frames/arrows), counting by 2s,5,s10s.

 

 

That said-- I have volunteered in the class. There are about 22 kiddos. About 3-4 are not getting the math at all, about 3-4 are way ahead of the curriculum and the rest are in the middle. Hopefully  our school is doing some pull-out support for the 3-4 that are struggling and I know they are doing some enrichment (not pullout but independent work) for the 3-4 that are ahead. The rest keep moving forward.

 


Edited by KCMichigan - 11/18/11 at 5:08pm
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by somasomi View Post

I do feel like the teacher may not be spending enough time on one topic but spending a day or two and then moving on to something else.  It's hard for me to focus on one concept with her when she brings home a different concept each day.  They are teaching strategies that are harder than the actual problems.  Example:  when adding 2 numbers such as 8+7 one could use doubles(7+7 and add 1) to figure it out.  How the h&!@ would she know that if she barely knows 2+2 and 3+3?  I think they are putting the cart before the horse.


It doesn't sound like she's necessarily putting the cart before the horse, just that she's loading up the cart with cargo when your dd hasn't yet got her horse harnessed. I don't doubt that there are a bunch of kids in the class whose horses are well harnessed and ready to roll, while there may also be a couple who are doing laps around the colosseum and trying out tricks. And there are probably a few others like your dd. The problem with classroom teaching, especially with something that's as linear as math, is that you have to kind of teach at one pace and hope that for the most part you can connect with all the kids. But especially in the early years, variable developmental readiness can make that a really tough balance to find.

 

I very much agree with the value of manipulatives. My personal favorite manipulatives for 1st grade are cuisenaire rods, because I find the use of color so brilliant, and because kids seem to actually enjoy playing with them, building familiarity and internalizing numerical relationships. While I think Singapore Math is a great program, the workbooks don't really make clear how much foundational work needs to be done with manipulatives when a concept is introduced, prior to putting it all into abstract form on the workbook pages. In Singaporean classrooms there would be lots of exploratory exercises and games which would be done before kids got to the pencil-and-paper stuff. And since it seems like it's this pre-requisite work with concrete objects that your dd really needs, I think it may be a mistake to assume that the Singapore workbooks will systematically solve all her issues. She'll also need lots of work with concrete objects, whether beans, cuisenaires, a 10x10 abacus or what-have-you.

 

I think it would be well worth your while to start using one type of manipulative alongside her math homework right now, and to also start a tradition of math-friendly games and activities each evening. Play snakes & ladders, crazy 8's, UNO, poker, Trouble, Shut the Box, rummy, cribbage, Pig, basically anything that involves dice, cards, counting and/or patterns. Think about getting some fun new board games for Christmas. There are some great books of games that have been devised specifically to help with math learning: "Family Math," "Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks," Peggy Kaye's "Games for Math." Most of these games are more than simply dressed-up drill -- they actually help develop logic, number sense and understanding. But even just basics like snakes and ladders can be very helpful: my kids learned all their addition facts to 6+6 at age 3 or 4 simply from playing games like this with two dice.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Miranda

post #19 of 35
Thread Starter 

Love the Roman analogy-so true.  Thanks for the great suggestions everyone.  She does seem to be making progress..she just got a 100% on her last test.  I think these frequent tests are a bit much at this age.  Part of me just wants her to learn at her own pace and not feel pressured to learn at the "schools" pace.  I try not to place too much emphasis on "tests" but they are so frequent we really have to practice and cram in the info.  I will definitely start playing some games that are just plain fun (but skill building at the same time).

 

post #20 of 35

What does the teacher say? I am wondering if you have talked with him/her to find out his/her thoughts on why your child is struggling.

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