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View Full Version : Help, math is getting sooo boring!



Jenny in GA
07-16-2009, 08:36 AM
My daughter is eight and almost finished with MUS Alpha.

I'm realizing now that I rushed her through it too fast. She could do the work and felt comfortable with is, so we would move to the next lesson. But I started realizing she doesn't really know all the math facts as quickly and easily as she should.

So, we are spending time reviewing and using the worksheet generator and doing pages we had skipped before moving on to Beta.

She is getting really bored and starting to complain about it. I don't blame her. BUT, she still does not know these facts inside out. For example, if I ask her what 8+7 is, she'll have to scrunch up her face and think for about 4-5 seconds before answering. Subtraction is even worse.

I don't know if other math curriculums are more "interesting," or if this just the nature of the Math Beast, but just doing the lessons and worksheets has been getting very tedious. Is this a MUS problem, or do other programs present the same problem?

I know you will probably suggest me playing some math games with her. I have the Peggy Kaye math games book, and we have done it in the past. The problem with that is that the ONLY way we can do it is if we are alone in the room, which doesn't happen too much or too easily. If her younger sister is there, she always gets involved in the game in some way (even if all she does is sit on my lap while we play), and it always ends up being a competition, and people end up angry and/or crying.

I have thought about getting, say, Reader Rabbit math software, but I know that will cover way more concepts than the Alpha book does, so I'm afraid it might be distracting/confusing/frustrating more than it is helpful.

Any ideas? Should we just keep plugging away?

Sue S
07-16-2009, 08:54 AM
There are books you can get from the library that are "Math Start" (I could be wrong with the series, but I am sure there are others here who could correct me) Anyway, these books have stories that include a math lesson within them....telling time, counting tally marks, addition, subtraction, even and odds, etc. There are also the Candy books....Hershey, Twizzler, etc and they introduce addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions concepts.

Besides Peggy Kaye's Math Games, try some board games too. What about cooking?

I don't know if you do math everyday, but if you do...break it up with MUS a couple of days and Living Math the other days (the living math would be what I spoke of above). Or even use the math lessons from FIAR one day during the week instead of MUS that day...

HTH

Lindy
07-16-2009, 09:30 AM
I don't have any suggestions but I understand what you're saying.

I'm glad you posted. I am a MUS user but I do it a little unconventional in the way that I don't start Alpha until my kids are older. This happened because I first found MUS when my oldest dd was in 4th grade. I thought it was a good review to start with Alpha then, which she just whipped through, it solidified everything she had been learning and it gave her great self esteem. (just FYI she is starting 9th grade and doing Alg. 1 so she is right on track, it didn't delay her in anyway starting it later)

So for my ds I did not start him until later also.
And now for my youngest dd going into 2nd grade I was wondering what I wanted to do for math this year. I was considering starting alpha...but I thank you for posting because I'm sure I would find myself in the same boat as you.

I think Sue's suggestions are great. I also would look into Reader Rabbit. It does cover other stuff than Alpha, but it is all things you will want your dc to know so why not start exploring it in a fun way. My kids have really liked the Reader Rabbit.

IMHO I think MUS just moves too fast at too young of an age for them to really grasp the concepts. FOR MY FAMILY! (I know others have had no problems)

:)

Jeni
07-16-2009, 09:50 AM
The speed of her fact recall will improve with time. If she is getting them right, even if she has to think on it a few seconds, I wouldn't worry about it. The more she uses the math fact in her daily life and in her schoolwork, the faster her recall will become.

Why can't they play the games cooperatively instead of competitively? How old is the younger sister? Also, why not try some solo games in the form of file folder games? Play store and let them take turns being the customer and the store owner. Use everyday experiences to practice math, "Ok we're going to the store and the post office, it's 5 miles to the store and 3 more mile to the post office, how many miles are we traveling?" or "I need 10 pounds of potatoes, each of these sacks weigh 5 lbs, how many do I need to buy?"

Math doesn't need to be boring but you'll either need to get creative with MUS by changing up the lessons and adding some fun or using a curriculum that incorporates more living math and games.

If you think the computer program would be fun and helpful to her, I would do it. So what if it introduces things you haven't covered, do you skip the FIAR applied math lessons because they are covered in your student's text this year? Probably not. ;) Typically the games will give a short explanation of the concept before they play the game and when you do come to it in your math text, if she's seen the concept before, it will be that much easier for her. Also, there is often more than one right way to arrive at the answer or to explain a concept in math. One reason I use the math curriculum I use is because I like being able to show them more than one way to answer or understand. I can't think of a time when showing them more than one right way confused them. ;)

Jenny in GA
07-16-2009, 10:36 AM
Why can't they play the games cooperatively instead of competitively? How old is the younger sister? Also, why not try some solo games in the form of file folder games? Play store and let them take turns being the customer and the store owner. Use everyday experiences to practice math, "Ok we're going to the store and the post office, it's 5 miles to the store and 3 more mile to the post office, how many miles are we traveling?" or "I need 10 pounds of potatoes, each of these sacks weigh 5 lbs, how many do I need to buy?"



The younger sister is six. I've tried having them on the same "team" against me, but even that doesn't work; they still keep track of which one of them is getting more right, or who drew the better card, or whatever.

If the younger sister sits on my lap, then she is automatically on "my team" in their minds, so anytime I score a point (or get a "good card," or whatever), the older sister gets mad, and vice-versa.

If I try to keep the games non-competitive (like, say, do addition war, but not count the cards and say it doesn't matter, we'll re-deal them when they start getting low), they still try to quickly see who has more before I re-distribute them, and announce repeatedly that they really won because they have more cards.

Same thing if we were in the car and I ask a word problem or something. Whoever answers the fastest upsets the other one. If I say, "Okay, now this is for Rebecca to answer ..." then Rachael will still answer it, and Rebecca will get mad.

I guess this is a separate thread/issue in itself ...

What are solo games in the form of file folder games? That sounds promising, but I don't know what that means.

Thanks,

Jeni
07-16-2009, 11:40 AM
Yikes! It sounds to me like they might need some guidance on being a good sport and taking turns. Maybe this is just me, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I would not tolerate that kind of behavior. There would be no games until they can learn to be good sports, play nicely and respect each other and take turns. If a question is asked specifically to one child and another child answers, that's disobeying mom and is treated as such. If a game starts getting ugly, it would be put away because mom's ears can't tolerate hearing them treat each other like that. ;)

Anyways, Evan Moor makes Take It To Your Seat activity folders that have games and activities in them that are meant to be completed by just one child. There are also a variety of file folder games and activities that are meant for one child to complete on their own. That's what I meant by "solo games", games and activities that are meant for only one player or person. ;)

Esther-Alabama
07-16-2009, 11:57 AM
Jenny,

I DO think she is doing fine with her math facts, but games and fun activities with math WOULD help.

I had similar issues with games with my boys and we solved it much the way Jeni described. I played games with all 3 for one week. We practiced taking turns, being good sports, and I rewarded them for all these things. I made the goal of the game to earn the most stars on my scorecard. They earned stars by being pleasant game players, taking turns, not interrupting each other's turn, cheering for each other, taking losing well, taking winning well, and in general being NICE! Then everyone got a prize (a popsicle!). I did this every day for a week and now we don't have near as many issues with games.

Peggy Kaye's games are great and easy to do. Every day this summer, I've set a timer and played a one-on-one game with each boy at their level. The others are not allowed to play and not allowed to be in the room if they cannot respect that.

Susan in Kentucky
07-16-2009, 12:11 PM
I totally understand about the MUS - the only b&w pages were not a good fit for my dd.

My kids enjoy playing games on Fun4theBrain (http://www.fun4thebrain.com/index.html) - you can pick which facts they practice a my boys like it particularly like it b/c with some games after they do x number of problems they get to play a video type game as a reward.

Melinda
07-16-2009, 02:00 PM
Does MUS still have their speed drills online? That was a huge motivator for my kids.

Also, my oldest dd is 9 and now math facts seem easy to her. We kept going with the rest of her math (we used Horizons and now Saxon) and the math facts began to click to more she used them. This was the dd that was very bored with MUS, so a spiral approached worked better for her because she could learn other math concepts while still practicing her facts.

I'd just keep going forward with your math and supplement with some games. FWIW, my kids do really well with games IF I play with them. :)

Nancy Ann
07-16-2009, 02:19 PM
I am not familar with MUS but it sounds to me like she is doing fine with her math facts and maybe it's time to just take a break. I asked my husband one time how fast he wanted our son to be able to recall math facts and he honestly said speed is not his concern, only if his child knows the answer. I asked him this because we were doing worksheets for math problems and we had to keep repeating the worksheets because he wasn't getting them in the time limit, but he did know all the answers. So now I don't do timing, I give him a worksheet and if he knows the answers we move on. I have personally never understood the need for a child to say the answer of a math fact immediately! It makes no sense to me. I always have to think slowly and through things more, I am not a quick wit, though I am certainly no dummy! I always had trouble in school with timed tests, they soooo frustrated me because I knew the answer but just was not always able to be as fast as everyone else. My husband was the same way with timed tests though his teachers considered him a genius in everything else!

Can you just move on to Beta right now? If the only requirement for your dd before moving on to Beta is to recall math facts quicker, I would say just move her onto Beta.

Do you have the wrap - ups? Some kids find those fun.

I like Esther's idea of setting aside time with each child to play a game with them. If you want to play games that is a good idea and I suggest the Muggins games for helping with math skills.

Shauna in TX
07-16-2009, 02:19 PM
If you can swing it, Mathletics might be good for her. They have an option to race against either a computer or another player online to see who gets the most questions right in a set amount of time. They also have lessons where the child covers concepts, and gets points for correct answers that they can use to "buy" upgrades for their avatar to customize it. usually have DD "play" on the site a couple of times a week as math time and she really enjoys it.

TonyaP
07-16-2009, 07:36 PM
Try the computer game Katsuko (Big Fish has it).

To be honest, even though I understand that knowing the facts is essential to the MUS system, I can't do it. I memorized the math facts in elementary school, used them all the way through college, memorized them again 9 years ago when I was tutoring my nephew and again this spring working with DS. BUT, I still don't have all my math facts memorized today! It's just not in me, unless I were to drill on the facts daily or use them extensively every day, it's just not going to happen for me.

I really struggle with insisting that DS know something that I can't manage (though DH can- I quizzed him today). I'll keep working with him, but at some point I think Mr. Demme and I will just have to agree to disagree. ;-)

Kendra AU
07-16-2009, 08:07 PM
We play LOTS of math games to learn concepts and to encourage them and keep them going. You can read all about them on my blog if you're interested.

Also games like:

Monopoly will encourage money skills
Rack-o will encourage skip counting skills
S'math will encourage equation skills (equate is similar and will accomplish the same task)
Number Neighbors (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/living-math-update.html) will encourage numerical Order
Doubles Concentration (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/2009/05/double-facts-with-living-math.html) will work on double facts
Tens Concentration (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/2009/05/living-math.html) will work on adding numbers to 10
Dominoes (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/living-math-dominoes.html) can help one work on many forms of equations

I find that quickness comes with use. They can know any fact in the world but it does them little good until they understand why they need to know it. Does that make sense? I find that for my group hands on work gets it going the best and they have enough fun that I don't hear complaints. ;)

Kendra

Jenny in GA
07-16-2009, 08:19 PM
Try the computer game Katsuko (Big Fish has it).

To be honest, even though I understand that knowing the facts is essential to the MUS system, I can't do it.
(snip)
I'll keep working with him, but at some point I think Mr. Demme and I will just have to agree to disagree. ;-)


Yes, yes, exactly ... Steve Demme makes it clear not to go on until they can instantly answer the math facts. He said if they have to think a few seconds, or squint or move their fingers or anything, they still haven't mastered them, and shouldn't move on.

So it isn't me being insistent; I'm just following orders! :roflol:

But I'm wondering if maybe we should go on to Beta anyway ... don't know ...

All the replies have been very helpful; thank you!

Jeni
07-16-2009, 08:45 PM
So it isn't me being insistent; I'm just following orders! :roflol:

But I'm wondering if maybe we should go on to Beta anyway ... don't know ...

I would. If we had waited to move on to Beta until my oldest had completely mastered his math facts and was able to instantly recall all the facts, he'd just now be moving on to Beta. :eek: He did fine though moving on to Beta and then Gamma even if he couldn't instantly recall his facts yet. We switched to our current curriculum after Gamma. ;)

If I had used MUS as a child, I would have been stuck in elementary math when I was still in high school. I remember crying and crying over math speed drills because my instant recall just wasn't good enough. I knew the answer but I needed time to think on it. I didn't get good at it until I was a teenager. I went through pre-calculus in high school and up to college trig. I understood the concepts no problem but my computation speed is probably a little slower than most. ;)

I would give her a short drill sheet daily to keep her practicing her fact recall but go ahead and move on to Beta.