Help me stop this

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by becky, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Apr 8, 2010

    Although this is a school issue, I'm posting it here because I see it more as a 'mom' thing.

    My Jeannie has never liked math. She does fine with it, so the problem she thinks she has with it is all in her head.

    And I can't pry it out.

    Math time is an unending chore here. Jeannie will refuse to work, pretend she doesn't understand, and will actually sit there two hours or more, staring at the page. The only time she'll stay on task is if I sit there, too, which I refuse to do. I normally read up on our next things, or go do some house work. I'm never far, if she really did need help. Math is the only subject she does this with.

    I've tried punishments- taking away a game system-and I've tried rewards for getting done sooner. I need to break this cycle, or I will consider school next year. I'm sick of dreading our school day.
    Thanks for any advice.
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I apologize in advance because this is going to sound so...cliche...but can you do some fun activities in math that will not only up the fun factor, but bring her loads of confidence? I know it can't always be hands-on and real-life activity, but...I don't know...just thinking aloud. :)
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 8, 2010

    becky- what does math 'look like' in Jeannie's day to day learning?
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Are you part of any home-school group so that you could "switch out" with someone else?

    I know some home-schooling parents who have tried that for certain subjects or children. One mother sent her daughter to the public high school for advanced algebra, geometry, and calculus because she didn't feel comfortable teaching it. Another "traded" her daughter to a neighbor for math because her daughter automatically switched to "whiny mode" when math started with her mom. She didn't do that with her neighbor. One of our teachers tutors two home-schooled brothers who have a learning disability. The mom is having trouble with some of their special needs, so they get twice a week tutoring from the special education teacher.

    Maybe she just needs a change of scenery.
     
  6. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    You mean the bribes to get done early aren't fun for her??;)

    Well, we use neat manipulatives. I even try to intro a concept using Pokemon when I can, hoping to keep her engaged. I do the same with the other subjects when I can.

    I believe this is all her being obstinate, JM, I really do.
     
  7. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    How do you mean that, czacza?
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    What does a math lesson look like? What's your role? What is J doing? What is being said? What are the activities? How are you assessing learning? Paint a picture of 'math' in your daily lessons...
     
  9. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    I can think of only one mom I would consider this type of arrangement with, and she's got two kids to hs herself.

    Monday Jeannie had a ps friend over because the mom needed a sitter. The agreement was that this child had to work along with Jeannie, and the girl was actually anxious to experience Jeannie's day. I thought having someone to work with- like someone here suggested long ago-would be a great thing for Jeannie. When school was done, they'd go swimming.

    Well, J was just as mule-headed in math as she ever was, while the friend was done in 15 minutes. Turns out her class is one chapter ahead of us, so she had already done fractions. Spelling went better, because they were on even ground.
     
  10. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Can you do math by cooking? I don't know what you are studying in math, but I learned fractions by measuring 1/2 cup of flour, etc. Doubling recipes could teach multiplication.
     
  11. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    The concept- today it was adding fractions with unlike denominators-is introduced with either manipulatives, drawings, or whatever is called for in a particular lesson. Each introductory activity matches a section on her math book page.

    I work the first activity in each section, then have her do one or two. If she does fine, we move on, if not, we stay on that concept until she gets it. Her book then has 4 or 5 'Check Understanding' problems we do together, then she has a page to do independently. That page varies in length, but usually has 20-30 problems, including two word problems. Most pages have a short review section, too.

    J is quick to question if she needs something clarified, but I always ask if she understood what I said. If she is able to work through the intro activities and shows no hesitation, that tells me she understands.
     
  12. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    We do! As part of her health each week, she makes a recipe.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 8, 2010

    Would you consider less workbook? Lots of math games and activities are available online, resources through some great math PD sites that bring out critical thinking, give students ownership of their learning, build confidence by letting kids explore a concept and make their own meaning- they find out there is more than one way to get an answer...

    Google 'Marilyn Burns'

    Check out this site:
    http://www.mathsolutions.com/
     
  14. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Apr 9, 2010

    Usually if my fifth graders do okay on the check for understanding, I do not give more than 20 problems for them to practice (usually it is 10-15 including review problems and the word problems). If they know how to do it, then I feel doing a lot of problems is just repetitive and gets boring. JMO though :)
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Apr 9, 2010

    Becky, maybe math is the one subject that Jeannie needs to be "tutored" not taught.

    When I tutor, I sit next to my student for the whole period. There's no possibility of fooling around, because I'm right there. Errors are caught instantly, so the self confidence tends to increase. Very often I can head off an error with "OK, be careful here..."

    Is this how I teach my classes? Of course not; I have anywhere from 25 to 45 kids in my room. But it is how I tutor, and it may work for Jeannie.
     
  16. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Apr 9, 2010

    I have not really followed your discussions about Jeannie enough to know....is she more of a literature/art person than a math kid?

    My daughter (now grown) would approach story problems like this:

    Me (reading a problem to her): Suzie has 4 dresses. She returned 3 dresses. How many dresses did Suzie have left?

    Beth: Why did she return the dresses?

    Me: That doesn't really matter here. It doesn't say...let's just do the problem.

    Beth: It mattered to Suzie! Were they the wrong color? Did she gain weight and they didn't fit? Did someone make fun of her with those dresses. Why isn't Suzie SAYING what the problem REALLY is?

    EVERY problem went on and on like that. Math with Beth used to drive me NUTS!!!

    But we made a deal...if she did half of her problems we would play a game with the second half. The second half we sat and made up stories to which the problems would fit into. Sometimes they were so funny. It wasn't that we stopped, but after a while she just started to want to get through math FASTER and get on with life. That's when that ended.

    She's now 23. Still doesn't like math (neither does her mom, actually). But is good enough with it to get by. Funny - she is in the running for a managerial track position. I don't think she knows there WILL be math yet.

    Maybe as a congratulations present I will get her a really nice calculator.

    *****

    Ever check out MathMania? It's a magazine put out by the Highlights magazine company. I have seen it once or twice...but actually know their Top Secret Adventures(social studies) series more. If they can do for math what they do for social studies (making it a BLAST, and having my kids watching the mail for it's delivery) - this would be WELL WORTH your time to look into.

    Here is their link:

    http://shop.highlights.com/webapp/w...ogId=17603&categoryId=241891&productId=692723

    ****

    Also, not sure what math series you are working with... but you might want to check out the University of Chicago's EveryDay Math website. Probably the best liked (by kids) thing the curriculum offers is the reinforcing games. They might talk about them on their site.
     
  17. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    What if you had her do 10-15 problems instead of 20-30, and then for each one she gets wrong, she has to do another for practice. Make it like a treat - You only have to do 10 problems, and if you do them carefully and understand, we can move on. If you can't do them correctly ew are going to do a few more to practice. And if she doesn't get the first 10 right, sit with her while she does the next 10.
     
  18. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    I don't stay right there beside her because I don't want her to be dependent on me. When you homeschool, it's very easy to forget to push independence. I know too many moms that do too much of the work for their kids, and I don't want to fall into that trap. Does that make sense? I see your point entirely, though.
     
  19. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Jeannie does this, too!! Once we were solving a problem where cookies weren't able to be divided equally. Jeannie pipes up with 'Well, why can't the cookies be broken in half? At least they'd all get some.'
    We can't deprive kids of cookies!:love:
     
  20. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Well if it helps you to know the future of a kid like this...

    Beth has gone on to win a NUMBER of writing and art contests and a few scholarships. Though she is going into retail management until she can find something else...she hopes to write and illustrate her own children's books and Manga. She's going to be coming to the International Reading Association conference with me one of the days (since it's in town-Chicago) and talk to a number of publishing houses (her degree will be in publishing and editting).

    But sometimes - for these literature/art minds... you have to play with Math. make it into a story. perhaps a mystery.

    I'm thinking of those sheets (you could probably find books of them in the teachers stores) where there is a question asked at the top and then each problem equals a letter. Below there is a coded answer (places for most-but not ALL of the numerical answers) that form the words to solve the question/puzzle:

    __ __ ___ __
    12 45 4.8 97

    You could even make those up for her until the mystery is solved.

    Make her math more.....story-like.
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 9, 2010

    It might help or it might not - but have a look at Johnny Ball's Go Figure: A totally cool book about math. The publisher is Dorling Kindersley.
     
  22. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I wonder if this is an area where it would benefit to swap with another homeschool mom? Maybe you guys just need a break from one another.

    Or maybe hire a math tutor for a few hours a week and let whatever program you were working on go. There are lots and lots of ways to teach math (Marilyn Burns and other ways discussed here) and maybe that tutor could shed some light onto Jeannie's learning and make it easier in the long run.

    I have followed your posts about Jeannie for years and know she is a smart girl and you're a super dedicated HS parent. I remember problems with math occurring even a couple years ago. If you really don't want to put her in school, maybe it's time to think of another solution for now.

    Having these problems now is not going to help her become a life-long learner or someone who feels they are capable in math- an area we need to be capable in for SO many jobs! I would stop what you're doing for now and see if someone else can come in and do something different for awhile...
     
  23. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    This might sound radical, but "forget" math for a couple of weeks. By forgetting, I mean don't do it formally. One of the nice things about homeschooling is that you get to teach your kids in any manner you feel works, the child responds to, and progress gets made. Instead of formal lessons, work the concepts into regular, day to day situations....all day, every day.

    So, you're doing fractions. Lets say you're going shopping. Tell J that you need 3/4lb of bananas, but oh, gee, you this bunch only weights 1/2lb. Ask her to get another bunch so that you have what you need. Or, for a slightly easier task, give her two bunches and ask her to weight them (seperately) and tell you how much they weigh, so you can estimate cost (oh, look, another lesson :D).

    Maybe if you break the "classroom bordom", and she really relates the material to the things she does everyday, she'll break the attitude with math.
     
  24. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Apr 9, 2010

    A lot of people gave great tips:
    1) games
    2) more hands on
    3) less worksheet/fewer problems

    Is Jeanie a math person? I found that giving students fewer, but more in depth problems seems to be better than giving 30 drill and kill type problems. May help. Give her 5 to start with. Go do your own work. Come back 10 minutes later or so and see how she is progressing. Then, work with her if she's not getting it or give her a fun bonus problem if she is getting it.

    I went to a workshop where they said, there is no point in ever giving more than 10 problems. Either they get it or they don't, but giving them 30 standard math problems is way overkill. Is she getting overwhelmed since she may not be a math person?

    BTW, I was homeschooled so I get what you mean about not wanting to sit there the whole time. :)
     
  25. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    My sister is like that as well. One time the question had to do with recipes--something like, "The recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, but you are doubling it. How much do you need to borrow from your neighbor?" She wrote "2 1/2 cups." When the teacher asked her why, she said it was in case you spilled any walking back from their house you would still have the 2 cups you needed...
     
  26. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Thanks, Peachyness. I appreciate that you understand.:love:
     
  27. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Lol- that sounds like my girl, too.:lol:
     
  28. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    I've been tempted to cut her work, but didn't for two reasons. First, if she ever does get enrolled her teacher is not going to cut her work simply because she doesn't want to do it. I try to homeschool her like I'm enrolling her tomorrow, so hopefully there will be no problems or stigmas or any of that.

    Second, I don't get this baloney in any other subject. That tells me she's being obstinate. Writing isn't even the battleground it used to be, this year. She's being hard-headed, pure and simple.
     
  29. TennisPlayer

    TennisPlayer Cohort

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    I haven't read this whole thread but what about using unique things when she needs to count like M & Ms if she's learning about graphing or something else. I think having some fun activities to do will help her enjoy math more but it is important to get through the math worksheets. Maybe having her do a certain amount -- take a break-- and then finish the page. I heard it's a GOOD idea to start with the hard problems first when they're ready to work so you can do them together, then she's free to do the rest on her own! Good luck.
     
  30. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Teach fractions with cooking/baking.
     
  31. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    If her behavior hasn't changed no matter what you try or it's escalated, that means she 's getting what she needs from the interactions around math. So it sounds like this might a communication issue rather than a math issue. Why not, for fun, try your functional assessment skills? Over the next week, record the setting events, antecedents, behaviors, consequences. Then see what her behavior is "saying" - create a hypothesis about what needs are being met. Then, perhaps you can find a different way to meet those needs that includes math.

    By the way, what changed her attitude about writing?
     
  32. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    ST, I've been trying to see what sets her off. To me, I think it's part pre-conceived notion that she's 'bad at math', and part she thinks there's too many problems to do.

    With writing, we're using a different English this year. This program has fewer writing assignments, and they are taken more slowly. Our other English had every other chapter being a writing assignment, an it was stressful. A good program, just too much writing for her taste.
     
  33. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I had a similar problem with my daughter and also with some students who can't focus on long tasks. With my daughter, I tried punishment, rewards, etc....

    What finally worked was breaking the work into parts. For some reason, every time I give my daughter and even some students someting to work on, lets say 30 problems, they panic and freeze. It actually happens to me too when I have a huge task I have to takle.

    I started telling my daughter that she only had to do 5 problems first in 5 minutes. After those five minutes, I praised her and asked her to do 5 more. I continued doing this until she finished. For some reason, this has worked like magic with some students that get easily overwhelmed with so much work.

    It's important to keep it all positive and fun. If she gets something wrong just gently correct her and tell her that it's not big deal.

    Hopefully it'll work.
     
  34. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Okay, I'm gonna step in with my two cents. I don't have much feedback on giving you actual resources and tools but I will tell you my philosophy of teaching. When a child is being pigheaded, rebellious, lazy, etc.... there is ALWAYS a reason. Digging in and being stubborn back isn't the way to solve the issue. Part of being a good teacher is recognizing when proactive strategies are needed. All of us can understand that you want her to be taught to survive with real world rules which includes following procedures as you are told and having high work ethic. Parents and teachers are here to teach children to become productive citizens of the world. I get that but you don't want to do that, Becky, at the detriment of negative emotional learning experiences. Sometimes a child can have a negative emotional learning experience in a particular subject and it creates a life-long barrier in their mind. Instead you want to create a life-long learner not one that avoids it because it was an emotional experience that they were never able to really overcome. I hate math. I always have. Then I took a methods of math class. The teacher really made me consider the fact that it wasn't that I didn't like math because in fact, I use it all the time but that I had negative emotional memories and math was presented in the same way every year and I never got over it. She had a totally different way of presenting math and for the first time I felt safe enough to participate EVEN in a class with math wizards. For the first time I actually enjoyed it. I realize just how much I use math and how many strategies I learned relatively on my own but how much I missed out on because of the way it was presented and the barrier I felt because I wasn't good at it. It wasn't that I wasn't good at it. It was just that an emotional learning barrier had existed and no one had tried to overcome it by being more proactive and finding a different way to reach me. This teacher had us do a glyph about our attitudes in math. Only two of us said we hated math. Both of us had an early negative math memory and both of us described our math experiences in relatively the exact same way with the exact same approach. No one size fits all works for all kids and unfortunately that's how education is often presented. Do yourself and Jeannie a favor and get over the idea that it HAS to be done in a certain way because this is the way the world works. Be proactive and find out how to heal her math phobia because at this point I really think that is what her stubborness is trying to tell you. She's not confident and there is a reason why she isn't confident. Go with what others are suggesting. Do some tutoring. Do some hands-on activities. Relate it to real life. Play some games. Change her outlook about math. Until you do this, you'll just doing a power struggle over it and THAT does not help solve the emotional learning experience battle. Half of learning is motivation. Killing that motivation puts up barriers that kill the traits needed to produce a life-long learner. You can't discipline her into liking math. You have to find a different way.

    You know, Becky, that I highly respect all that you do for your daughter. I respect you as an educator and not just a mom. This is something I see other educators fall in the trap of at times as well. I'm telling you this as bluntly as I can because I KNOW you want the best for Jeannie and I KNOW you aim to do everything in your power to give her the very best and that includes asking us for our feedback. I am telling you this as a person who struggled with math phobia. Help her get out of it NOW. It takes time but first it has to start with you abandoning the idea that it has to be done in a certain disciplined way because that's the real world. That's not the big picture here.

    One more thing I want to say. I'm slightly embarrassed to mention this and yet slightly proud too. Do you know how many adults fail Praxis 1 the first time around? Plenty. Yet, me, with a math phobia took the test after only one day of studying and only failed the math portion by 4 points (but passed the other two with high scores so I passed all of it). I am embarrassed that my math isn't better but at the same time I am darn proud of it because I got over my math phobia long enough to take this test and really tried my best. There were 8 questions left and only 1 minute on the clock. I might have actually passed the darn thing had I not ran out of time and just answered, "B" for the last 8 questions. You be the judge on how good or bad my math is based on that but I didn't bomb it like I automatically assumed I would. It wasn't that I couldn't do a lot of the math. It was the mental block. I literally will freeze if I am forced to do a problem in front of someone. I have to calm down and do it in private. That mental block is much more powerful than the lack of skill or knowledge. Do Jeannie a favor and be more proactive and listen to what her stubbornness is trying to tell you.
     
  35. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    cutNglue: Bless you, bless you, bless you. That took guts and grace.

    becky, if you're reading high emotion in cutNglue's post, be aware that it's not aimed at you but it's that cutNglue cares so much that this be put right.

    I find I can't recall whether this got dealt with on the previous page: but have you asked Jeannie, as you'd ask a colleague, for her take and her ideas?
     
  36. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    My gosh, yes, TG.

    I've asked her straight up why she dislikes math. I've asked her what we could do differently. 'Let's skip math forever.' she says.

    As she sits there, doing nothing, I ask her if she needs help. 'NO!', she exclaims.

    I've tried joking with her, to lighten the math mood. I let one of her cats sit right beside her on her chair, as a comfort kind of thing.

    The only thing that works- and I won't do this, like I said before- is when her dad sits right beside her and ushers her through the page. When she finishes a problem, he says 'Moving right along..', and in minutes she's done.No attitude, no problem getting done. So-even if you all think I'm giving her math issues, some of this IS part her being obstinate. Surely you all have the occassional obstinate kid that just brickwalls you, no matter what you try?
     
  37. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Becky-I've often thought it's easier to teach 20 of other parents' kids than one's own kids...there's just too much emotion at play. Sure, we all occasionally have the tough kids who we try to reach- a child who has fear of failure is the toughest...I tend not to label them obstinate or brick walls, but I do work on creating connections, differentiating learning, finding different ways to work with such students to overcome obstacles. Part of what works for your husband with J is that he's usually not involved in her lessons- sitting with him gives J that undivided attention from him which might be what she wants and needs from HIM. While you can't ditch math as J suggested, you can find ways to make her feel more comfortable with something that is difficult for her-that's an important life lesson.
     
  38. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    C&G-I completely understand what you're telling me. Thanks for sharing your troubles, too, because I never liked math for basically the same reason you never did.

    I do hope all of you understand I'm not standing here cracking a whip each morning. Of course I don't want her to have negative feelings where her schooling is concerned! I'm also not copping the 'oh, well, she'll get it when she gets it' attitude some hs moms I know have. Instead of heading to WalMart for a simple-read that useless- workbook that will take the hassle away, I'm trying to find a solution to the problem.
     
  39. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 11, 2010

    Becky...nobody said YOU are giving her math issues. They're just there. Sometimes they show up in spite of the teachers' and parents' best efforts. As CnG said, this is likely because the "standard" approach just doesn't sink in for that particular child.

    I could go along with the idea that this is just obstinance IF she did this with every subject, but she doesn't. It's just math. When a normally well tempered, active learner suddenly shuts down for a single subject, then you have to recognize that there's more going on than simple stubbornness.

    Since I can't say it any better than CnG did, I'll just say that I agree with her 100%. You have an advanatage most mothers don't have, and that is the ability to teach your child any way you want. There's no law that says math has to be learned with worksheets and drills. Do something different, don't go near a textbook and just do real life learning until J gets over this stumbling block. You'll be glad you did.
     
  40. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Apr 11, 2010

    I see it the other way around, though. To me, since she only does this for the subject she doesn't care for, that's her being obstinate. Does that make sense?
     
  41. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 11, 2010

    Becky, I can see how you might think that, but as a person who's specialty area has been math remediaiton and who's focused on math anxiety for her entire career, I have to completely agree with Cut. For some reason, J has issues with math. They've developed over time into full blown avoidance. That's typcial for students with severe anxiety. Of course, my "diagnosis" isn't perfect, since I don't actually know her, but after dealing with literally thousands of students, I think this is textbook math anxiety. A child just doesn't turn obstinate over one subject for no reason. Like I said before, if she did this with other subjects, then it might be different, but since it's just one, then I think there's more going on.

    You are very lucky to have the freedom to teach her however you want. I really hope you consider dropping formal math for a little while. If you need help figuring out how to integrate the topics she needs to learn into your normal day to day activities (and NOT just cooking), please PM me. This is something I'm really good at doing. As a matter of fact, at my last P/T conference with my oldest child, his teacher remarked that he's always saying "oh, that's what my mom taught us when we were driving/at the grocery store/at the beach/sledding/ect. When it came time to actually do it formally, he already knew the concepts and just had to learn how to write it down. Matthew is not a math genius by any stretch of the imagination, but he does know how it applies to the world around him, so its not so scary. Does that make sense?
     

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