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View Full Version : Math Advice, Help, Vent!!!!!!



Paige P
10-12-2009, 10:32 AM
Katie's in 3rd grade, and we've started long division (2 numbers, no remainders). Plus, we're working on adding 4 or 5 numbers that can be in the 1000th place and subtracting 2 numbers that could be in the 1000th place. She's frustrated with the division, and keeps making "little" mistakes in the adding and subtracting.

A week ago, I stopped all "NEW" stuff for a solid week and just worked on review. Adding and subtracting. Multiplication and division flashcards. We drilled and drilled. She played computer games. She did practice problems. We STOPPED and reviewed.

So, here we are, day 3 into getting back into the game, and she's CRYING this morning. She's still making "little" errors in addition -- she'll add a column and get to 17 (for example) and then when adding the last number, say 7, she'll get 21 instead of 24.

WHAT DO I DO?!?!?!?!?!?! I don't feel like I can just stop completely for a month. How do you overcome? Any advice? I'm frustrated. She's discouraged. I just don't know where to turn and I don't know what to do next.

Rachel Jane
10-12-2009, 10:38 AM
:unsure:
Maybe instead of stopping completely, You could do games and projects with tangible items that support the basics for a few weeks.

That is what I would do.
gather up her favorite collection (stuffed animals, shells, rocks, whatever) and do addition on Monday, subtraction on Tuesday, multiplication on Wednesday and division on Thursday. On Friday, play a game that requires math to accomplish.
Hopefully, she will begin to visualize the amount of items needed for an answer to these questions.

Long division can be frustrating even when you DO know the basics.

Just an idea. :)

shonda in ca
10-12-2009, 10:40 AM
Paige, you are always so helpful and I'm afraid I'm not going to be. :lol: I would let it sleep. I would do lots of games and manipulatives and stories of concepts she does know.
Frustration and discouragment are not good things in a homeschool lesson. Now that my youngest is 7 going on 8 in Feb. I am taking it quite a bit slower than my first. It all comes SO much more quickly and easily when they are a little older.
Might not be your philosophy at all and therefore not helpful at all! :)

(I think you are such a great mom! I'm sure everything will work out!)

Melinda
10-12-2009, 10:40 AM
When my oldest dd, who will shed major tears over math, has trouble, we take a day or two and only focus on that one skill. I know my dd knows her facts and if she is having trouble with a new concept it will show because of her careless mistakes. I'd just take a couple of days and work solely on some long division problems until she feels more confident with that concept. This is where dry erase boards work wonders by easing some of the intimidation!

Hope she overcomes this hangup soon. :group:

Michelle B.
10-12-2009, 10:54 AM
When we started long division we did it together for a few days. As in EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM-OUT LOUD. I think it's just one of those things that take practice. Lots of practice....then lots more...and more....

Steph
10-12-2009, 01:41 PM
My oldest nearly sent me to the loony-bin with long division!! Finally, just on a whim, I decided to write the problem on our dry erase board. I did a few and then wrote one for him. Do you know that he worked it without tears :clap::clap:. I was overjoyed! When I asked him about it later, he said that making a mistake on the dry erase was no big deal because he just wipes it away with his finger.....so there was nothing to get upset about. Who knew?

Ever since then, we have called it the magic board.
Having trouble with an algebra problem? Put it on the magic board. Having trouble spelling a word? Put it on the magic board.

Jeni
10-12-2009, 02:04 PM
Paige, you are always so helpful and I'm afraid I'm not going to be. :lol: I would let it sleep. I would do lots of games and manipulatives and stories of concepts she does know.
Frustration and discouragment are not good things in a homeschool lesson. Now that my youngest is 7 going on 8 in Feb. I am taking it quite a bit slower than my first. It all comes SO much more quickly and easily when they are a little older.
Might not be your philosophy at all and therefore not helpful at all! :)

(I think you are such a great mom! I'm sure everything will work out!)

:yes: I agree. Nothing that can wait until they are a little older is worth tears when they are little. I don't remember doing division until 4th grade. I mean at all, even single digit division. Third grade was spent mastering multiplication. Caitlyn, who is also in 3rd grade this year, is just beginning multiplication and I've mentioned that division is the opposite of multiplication just like subtraction is the opposite of addition.

I think your dd is already ahead of the game if she's doing multiple digit division, why keep pushing if it's frustrating her would be my question. Just as you can't imagine stopping for a while, I can't imagine pushing through when I know if I wait a while she will pick it up with ease. But people do push and get there and people sit back and while and get there, so either way you are going to get there, it's just the path you are most willing to travel to get there. ;)
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Heather W
10-12-2009, 02:30 PM
I'd like a magic board Steph! We have one, but...I'm not sure it's magic!

Paige P
10-12-2009, 03:51 PM
Thank you, ladies :group: I'm much more calm this afternoon, away from the drama of the morning :crazy: Just some comments:

* I LIKE the idea of the dry erase board. I've told dd that we're going to have "homework" this afternoon on the board to work through some problems.

* The longer I hs, the more I become a supporter of the "wait" theory :D Dd2's b/day is in early Sept., and I "waited" to start her in K. Can I tell you how much easier it is to teach her?!?!?!? She immediately grasps concepts b/c she's that much "older" in her grade. Of course, they have different strengths and weaknesses overall, though......

* I've come to realize, as well, just like I mentioned earlier that it's the "larger" numbers that dd is having problems adding. She'll get to 20something and then will have an 8 to add and will mess something up. Perhaps I just need to focus on that. Write it on the dry erase board and "show" her how the "ten" moves over. She's trying to do this in her head, which may also be where a big part of the problem arises.

I think she's struggling with the division, but I think she's discouraged by the little mistakes of the addition and subtraction. I think we're in for SLOOOOOWWWWWWIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG DOWN for a bit :)

Kendra AU
10-12-2009, 07:57 PM
We like to work on ONE thing until it's fully mastered. That way they are confident enough to move on. This might sound silly and a tad wasteful of our time, but it works for us. Plus, my kids are ahead in some areas and average in others. For us this might mean we do more then one thing for math, but we don't work on any new concepts until old concepts are firm.

So this week we're playing Clock Bingo to keep ourselves sharp with telling time. They might get a sheet of clocks to solve as well. They are also doing Joey-Joey but with only ONE math family inside of it. We're also working on double digit addition (older) and single digit addition (younger). Once the concept of carrying is complete we'll move forward. ;)

Oh, and I find that if my fellow is getting frustrated with simple mistakes that giving him cubes or fish bones to count REALLY helps. The cubes are just the unifex cubes and he can grab two different colors to selfcheck his work. Fishbones are colored popsicle sticks which go with a fish game they play for addition practice. He uses the colored sticks to self check or to help himself with problems he's frustrated with. It keeps him calm and collective and normally after a few checks he's confident enough to continue onward without the aid of counters. ;)

I'd really like to get them an abacus, but I haven't found the right one yet. :)

Oh, and Paige that Giant Book of homeschool resources has some awesome math stuff in it. ;)

Susan A
10-12-2009, 08:09 PM
My 7 y/o can be roaring along like a freight train when all of a sudden she'll hit a brick wall. When that happens, I know we MUST slow down, almost to a crawl, till she hits full steam again. Like you, the longer I hs the easier it is for me to wait.

Christi in VA
10-12-2009, 08:13 PM
Paige,
I have one who is very, very Very similar. However, these problems began yrs ago. We've used MUS until now and so, she's just now (using Abeka) even beginning division. 3rd grade was spent on multiplication only...and still, she makes little errors, as you mentioned. Very rarely does she get an entire side of a page correct, even with as much review as Abeka is. But, just going slowly and keeping at it is what we're doing. Today we did the worksheet, she made tons of mistakes. Tomorrow's math time will be spent doing corrections (hopefully without frustration) then the next day, we'll start again. yes, it's taking twice as long this way. But, I felt like it was beginning to affect our relationship and no academic issue is worth all that. I also felt like I was beginning to take it more personally......so in order to keep to the point, I have just designated a time limit and we will work on math during that time and then stop and pick up the next day with corrections. That way, when the math time is up, it's up! No further frustration or going 'round about it.
I know I have not been helpful, and as Shonda said, you always ARE. I think you're a great mom and teacher! I know you will work through this and come out better on the other side :)

Laura F
10-12-2009, 08:16 PM
We haven't reached 3rd grade math yet, but I use 2 strategies when oldest dd just can't "get" a math concept: liberal use of the dry erase board (with markers in pretty colors) and manipulatives, manipulatives, manipulatives!

Tricia O
10-12-2009, 09:42 PM
I have come to fully appreciate the gift of time in our homeschooling endeavors. My oldest daughter is a year ahead of your oldest in school, and she is just now getting introduced to basic division (and we are still working on multiplication facts). She's always been a bit behind, but is catching up and doing better this year.
My second daughter is 10 months behind your oldest daughter and working on more of a 3rd grade level (though she's only in second grade) and she has only barely begun to be introduced to multiplication (that only because I wanted to do Times Tales with both girls together). She's not adding or subtracting more than to the 100's yet.
We no longer use MUS, but found decimal street to be an invaluable tool in teaching place value, and still pull it out sometimes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdbhLkiaQuM

http://mathusee.com/blog/2008/12/11/awesome-decimal-street-lapbook/

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/barrynmissy1972/630530/
(takes a minute to load)

ShayChristie
10-12-2009, 10:20 PM
We've had similar road blocks before and stopping has always helped. Sometimes for a week, sometimes for a month, sometimes longer. And none of my children are behind in math. Most are ahead.

I always use this analogy, but it works well. If you're putting in a fence, you can dig fence post holes all winter through frozen ground, chipping away, at pieces of hard, frozen earth, Or you can wait for spring and the thaw and knock those holes out right quick.

Waiting for spring has always helped my children and let their brains catch up to the concept. :)

Play games that use basic math skills. My children's favorite is Uno. Working on addition? Play until someone reaches 500. Working on subtraction? Start at 500 and work your way backwards. It helps that this is one on one time with MOM and no one else! :lol:

Tricia O
10-13-2009, 08:46 AM
If you're putting in a fence, you can dig fence post holes all winter through frozen ground, chipping away, at pieces of hard, frozen earth, Or you can wait for spring and the thaw and knock those holes out right quick.

Waiting for spring has always helped my children and let their brains catch up to the concept. :)


I love your analogy! Can I post that on my facebook page so I can remember it forever? :D

Bonnie W
10-13-2009, 09:11 AM
When my daughter was learning long division, we turned the notebook paper so that the holes were across the top. This way, she had lines to show where the numbers should go. I hope that makes since. This really helped her to notice if she put numbers in the wrong place. Also, for her, less problems were more affective than more problems.
Hang in there,
Bonnie

Alice R
10-13-2009, 09:40 AM
Long division is very hard to teach and learn. :group:

I have used fun words like "Ok, there is a party in the basement so he goes downstairs" and stuff like that. I don't know if it helps but it makes them laugh. :lol:

I have found that using a white board with different color markers to be helpful. One color for each step.

Paige P
10-13-2009, 10:44 AM
Please keep these idea coming, ladies. They're great :thumb:

My mom (a former math remediation specialist for elementary kids) recommended fewer problems and then letting her use a calculator to check her work. If the answer isn't right, SHE has to go back and figure out where she went wrong.

She also said giving her multiplication and division charts to work with, insisting that by the time you "see" that 36/6 = 6 and writing that down 5 times, you'd remember it.

I think I'm just going to have to keep mixing up ideas, techniques, etc.

Today we took RJ's idea and played Go Fish, adding up "points" vice counting pairs to see who wins. As she talked herself through the points, I was able to see where she was making some mistakes. She knows 7 + 8 = 15, but if she has 17 + 8, she tries to add the number on her fingers and somehow messes it up. I was able to walk her through 7 + 8 = 15, so you're going to have a 5 in the ones place and "move" ten over. She gets the extra "10" easily, but confuses the 1 somehow :confused: At least by talking it through, I'm seeing how the mistakes are being made.

Plod. Plod. Plog. Chug. Chug. Chug. We're still moving along :D

Jeni
10-13-2009, 11:13 AM
She also said giving her multiplication and division charts to work with, insisting that by the time you "see" that 36/6 = 6 and writing that down 5 times, you'd remember it.

I completely agree, this is what we do. Once they understand the act of mulitplication, we use tricks to memorize the facts, like the finger trick for the 9s and 2's are doubles and 4's are double doubles .... and of course I let them use the chart until they feel they no longer need it. ;)

I could be completely off base but I think, from the sounds of it, that your dd isn't quite ready to move from concrete to pictoral learning. She may still need manipulatives at times to help her really "get" a concept. Caitlyn still struggles with this sometimes. Most kids are just getting to the point of really doing well with pictoral learning of math concepts around 3rd or 4th grade. Around 5th or 6th they are ready for abstract which is where long division is taking them. The numbers in long division are generally much too big to use manipulatives (concrete) or draw pictures for (pictoral) so they need to just learn the algorithm and that is a more abstract process than many 3rd graders are ready for.

Just because the math book says they are ready for the next concept doesn't mean they are. That was the biggest problem I had with traditional textbooks. I could see that often the math book would move ahead and my child still needed more time to really understand the concept. Not neccesarily daily intense practice but just time for the information to really set in their minds. It was like trying to pour the jello out of the mold before it was set so that we could pour in the next batch in. We ended up with lots of half set, runny jello. :lol:
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carriejoy
10-13-2009, 12:19 PM
Paige, I haven't read through all the replies, but I'm currently reading a book called Nimble Numeracy. It is a little volume. It is VERY detailed with telling a tired mommy brain what to say, how to do it etc, BUT it is also such that you can grasp the concept and use it for YOURSELF. It is NOT "script" dependent (sp?)

I found it at the library on a whim. It shows you how to provide a SUPER SOLID foundation. There is nothing extra to buy. She works with cubes and popsicle sticks.

Anyway, I have not finished it yet, but I can see it being a WONDERFUL way for us to do math. Logical, step by step...boost up what you need to, keep going when you don't.

here's the amazon link. no picture:
http://www.amazon.com/Nimble-Numeracy-Fluency-Counting-Arithmetic/dp/1881929191/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255454261&sr=8-1

and from half.com
http://product.half.ebay.com/_W0QQprZ30427304QQcpidZ1214098103

Paige P
10-13-2009, 12:57 PM
I could be completely off base but I think, from the sounds of it, that your dd isn't quite ready to move from concrete to pictoral learning. She may still need manipulatives at times to help her really "get" a concept.

I completely agree, Jeni :yes: This dd has always been developmentally "behind" with this type stuff. Don't get me wrong -- she's VERY smart and is VERY language-based (she reads like nobody's business), but mathematical concepts are just harder for her to grasp. For example, dd2 has just started combining money (coins) and has immediately "gotten" it. Dd1 STILL has to stop and think about combining coins. We just all have different "gifts." I don't want to discourage her or make her think she's "dumb" in math b/c it's frustrating to her. KWIM?

To me, we have the ADVANTAGE of hsing. I'm *allowed* to take it more slowly or work on developing a concept or take longer to work on mastery of a concept. I just need to figure out how to appropriately do so.

Ya'll are definitely encouraging me :kiss:

Kendra AU
10-13-2009, 03:18 PM
Paige, we keep posters of addition facts hung up by the toilet. My son will come out of the toilet and announce, quite smugly, that he knows what x+x=.. We play along and act amazed and ask him how he knows then he'll say, "Oh I was learning in the bathroom.." :lol: