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12272009, 11:48 PM

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I have a 20 yr old son that unschooled for much of his life, then he chose to go to school for jr high and part of high school before coming home again. When he was in school, he struggled in his math classes, not being able to grasp the concepts. Now that he's 20, what he would really like to do is go into the science field, something with astronomy likely, but for that, he needs alot of math skills. He has been trying to teach himself math, beyond the basics, some just to figure things out he's trying to learn about, and some to get further himself so that he can get to where he wants to be. But, he can't. He told me that no matter how hard he tries, he just can't get the concepts, he can't wrap his head around them. Even at his job, working at a boat and airplane upholstery shop, when his boss asks him for help doing things that require figuring out some math, he can't do it. It's really frustrating him alot! Any ideas? Do you think if you don't have a natural ability for math that you can train your brain to learn it somehow?
Thanks!!
Susan
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#2 of 11
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01012010, 01:15 PM
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Has he googled things like discalculia?
#3 of 11
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01022010, 01:11 AM
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I would say he might need a tutor, someone who is experienced in dealing with students that struggle with Math. There are so many different ways to present Math and a good math tutor should be able to find a system that "makes sense" to your son.
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01032010, 11:58 PM
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I don't know, but I think Piglet's suggestion is worth a try. He's not alone, so many people think they're no good at math, and I think that bad math instruction is responsible for a lot of that. I consider myself somewhat mathematicallyinclined, and I've certainly had trouble with math classes.
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01042010, 12:15 AM
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A good tutor (or perhaps I should say "the right tutor for you") would work more in a mentorship capacity than drilling a child for schoolwork. Hopefully you could find someone who appreciates childled, selfdirected learning.
#6 of 11
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01092010, 10:05 AM
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posted twice so deleted this post. Sorry for that.
Raising Geek_Generation_2.0 :LET ds= 10 ; LET dd1= ds  2; LET dd2=dd2; IF month=0.67 THEN LET ds = ds+1;Â
#7 of 11
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01092010, 10:07 AM
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I am trying to do something not dissimilar to your ds, only I am 12 years older than him! I was also considered very nonmathematical at school and had words like discalcula (sp?) bandied about. Now I am studying for a science degree (physics or chemistry, can't decide). It can be done.
I am studying with the Open University in the UK, it is a distance learning program aimed at adults (though you can take their courses from, I think, age 16 and homeschoolers have persuaded them to let even younger kids take their courses). The great thing about this program is that they assume no knowledge of maths at all. I have gone from having very little mathematical ability, to taking 2nd year maths/physics courses, in only a few years. It is explained very clearly, nonpatronisingly, and if you get stuck there is a lot of tutor support in the early years. I wonder if you have something similar in the US?
What you do have is the MITOpen project, their videos are brilliant and I REALLY recommend the physics one with Walter something. My 6 and 4 year old will watch him explain anything.
Another thing that has helped a lot is finding a part of maths that I found interesting, and working with that. For me , initially, this was statistics, and experimental designit was practical enough to make sense to my artsgrad mind. But I also found I really liked algebra, and calculus, and of course trignometry is wonderfuland so forth. These things tend to snowball.
Another possibility is that he simply doesn't have the underlying knowlege to make the connections. I really empathise with this, although I wasn't unschooled, I went to a very lopsided (great!) school with a focus on music and creative language and so forth. I don't think we actually did any maths at all until we were about 11. It may be that he needs to go right back using a primary textbook and fill in the gaps. My kids are working through Miquon, mainly with my husband (who is a mathematician, and thinks they are brilliant), I think had I not spent time doing the OU's basic maths program I'd actually benefit from working through some of the Miquon stuff.
I think, bar learning disabilities, most of us do have the ability to become highly numerate. An awful lot of it is just making sure you have a secure foundation to build onmaths terms can be quite confusing, with the greek letters and so on. And then putting the work in. A lot of it is not about lightbulb moments, it won't necessarily suddenly "click" right away but if he keeps plugging away, and searching out new explainations and new mentors and not letting anyone tell him he can't do it, he will get there.
And more importantly, he will love maths. And tbh, he needs to enjoy it. I don't see how you can do a physics degree if you hate maths. Or you can, but you'd surely loathe it.
Raising Geek_Generation_2.0 :LET ds= 10 ; LET dd1= ds  2; LET dd2=dd2; IF month=0.67 THEN LET ds = ds+1;Â
#8 of 11
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01162010, 09:28 PM
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I'm math impaired as well
. I really find that if math is related to something I really want to know about I have a much better time with it. Would it be possible for your son to take an entry level astronomy class and just start to fool around with the math required? Might be easier that way...looking at what he needs to be able to do to learn what he wants to learn rather than addressing math as a whole, general subject area.
Also helps if I fool around with things in a no pressure environment. On my own...not where someone says "quick whats 3x8!" the answer then is always "ummmmmmm".
And I think the biggest thing of all is to quit telling yourself how hard it is and how you can't do it. Maybe your son isn't as quick at picking up math as some other people are but he is capable...he just needs to find what is going to work for him.
#9 of 11
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02102010, 07:12 AM
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Maybe he's also overthinking it? I mean, concepts are great, but the most important part, in terms of using it, is being able to use it.
I know when we first started calculus in Gr. 12, my classmates were all hung up on understanding it. I was never all that "good" at math, so I just approached it from a practical angle, and figured out what the kinds of problems were and how to solve them. I vaguely got the concept, but I didn't worry about it too much. And I did ok  this actually served me well even through my 2nd year university math courses (which I took because I was going to be a math and science teacher, and because I liked them, sort of.)
I also found that I liked long complicated problems better. It was like a form of meditation to dive into a deep problem and go through each step methodically. I'm no math whiz. It wasn't easy, but I like to believe that nothing worth doing is ever easy.
But a good tutor would help, as well as reviewing earlier stuff. Is it the Miquon program that has the placement tests? Whichever one that is would likely be a good place to start. Or how about Danica McKellar's book "
Math Doesn't Suck". We got that for DD when she was in Gr. 8, but she found it a little too basic for her. It's all girly, but it goes over all the prealgebra skills a student might need in really friendly ways. There are also several books devoted to math fears and phobias that might be worth investigating. Also, if he's going with textbooks, that may be more complicated than necessary for getting himself up to speed  something like
All the Math You'll Ever Need. He'll need more than that, obviously, but it might help him get up to speed. A librarian might be a good person to ask, as to what kinds of books might be helpful. Or maybe the videos from
Khan Academy would help?
Good luck to him!
Lori : mum to Emily (nov94) and Calvin (jul 03), : and : married to : Wes
#10 of 11
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03042010, 07:05 AM
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OR....
Maybe your son's brain prefers to learn in a different way?!?!?!?!?
http://www.stanleyschmidt.com/FredGauss/index2.html
Check out this series... it goes right up to calculus and stuff! And it is FUN storybased stuff! It is meant to be started when the student has already mastered addition, multiplication tables, and long division. If these basics are a struggle, I would hand him addition and multiplication tables and turn him loose with the Fred books. There are fun websites for learning the concepts of the basics, and books like the "I hate math" book. Don't panick on the basics... use the tables... play with fun math stuff... and if the Fred books appeal... go for it!
There are example lessons on the website... get your son to read some and see if it grabs him.
Have fun!
#11 of 11
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03042010, 07:08 AM
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Oh... I should mention... yes the program I linked to is a story based math program.. and yes I know your son is 20... the program was created by Fred Gauss, who taught with it in highschool and then in college! Very well received at both levels! It is funny stuff and he has a way of getting it into your brain... HOW and WHY of the math stuff... not just boring formulae and drills!
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