Parent in need of assistance--First grade remediation for sixth grader

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by NotATeacher :), Aug 4, 2006.

  1. NotATeacher :)

    NotATeacher :) New Member

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    Aug 4, 2006

    Hello,

    As you can see from my user name, I am not a teacher, although I do have a teaching certificate and did manage to make a living at it for one school year. :D

    I hope it's not a faux pas for a parent to ask a question here, but I'm kind of desperate. Here's the deal:

    My son is entering sixth grade in 2 weeks. On the last day of fifth grade, we picked up a stack of math work for him to do during the summer at home. Although I knew last year that math was a challenging subject for him, until we did it together every single day, I didn't realize the severity of the challenge that results from poor addition skills.

    Additonally, his spelling is awful. I couldn't fathom how he did so well in English when his compositions were so full of errors. When one of them made it home before he turned it in, I always read it and had him make corrections. Now I'm worried that middle school won't be so forgiving of errors on very simple words.

    I've determined that he must have just missed out on a lot that happened in first grade. His teacher was new to that grade that year. I think she just didn't see it not clicking.

    So, here we are. I need to revisit first grade with my middle schooler. I have worksheets and websites for his addition problems. I really don't know what to do about the spelling except just have him write so we can evaluate his difficulties.

    I would appreciate any other ideas you might have so that he can catch up while learning sixth grade material.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Aug 4, 2006

    I'm a horrid speller so I don't think I can give any advise there... It is kind of odd to blame this all on first grade as a sixth grader. Math difficulties could qualify him for LD but spelling will not.
    Anyway maybe touch math will help. Google it... I only know a littl ebit about it as I teach pre-k but in my 4th grade student teaching some of the kids used it. It is a visual math program and the kids that "get it" are really really fast at using it! Hopefully it will work.
    I'd imagine that in middle school now many things will have to be typed and wah-lah spell checker. HTH
     
  4. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Aug 4, 2006

    I agree you should have him tested for a learning disability. If he does have one it won't mean he is slow/stupid just that he needs to learn things differently. I regret that my mother never had me tested when I was younger. I had a hard time learning to read.
    I finally taught myself the summer before FIFTH grade!
     
  5. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Aug 4, 2006

    One thing to look for in his spelling is a pattern of errors. Does he consistently make errors on consonant blends or on vowel combinations? Is his problem mostly in suffixes or prefixes? If you can establish a pattern, that will at least give you an area to focus on and look for strategies which address that specific area.
     
  6. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Aug 4, 2006

    I taught sixth grade math two years ago. Over half of the sixth grade math TAKS is new material. Knowing how to skip count by ones on up to twelves will be very important if he does not have his multiplication and division skills down pat. As you already know, not knowing his facts will make math a struggle. I also agree with the other posters about getting him tested. Even if he doesn't qualify, you will know his strengths and weaknesses and that will help immensely in tutoring.

    The following is the site for the released TAKS. Since your son is struggling in math, I would download the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade tests so you can see the progression of skills. Dig out the copy of his fifth grade scores so you can see where his testing weaknesses are. If he is going to sixth, I'm assuming he passed the math TAKS in fifth (state law) so that means he has a lot of math skills under his belt already.

    http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/release/taks/index.html
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 4, 2006

    I would begin the school year by meeting with his teacher and asking that she consult with the school Special Ed team regarding his possible needs. Academic testing may be a good idea as it can help point to a possible Learning Disability. Your concern, support and willingness to work with him at home are a tremendous asset. Hope all goes well.
     
  8. mrsnoble116

    mrsnoble116 Companion

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    Aug 4, 2006

    I think phonics is the way to go for the spelling problems. As an English teacher, many of my parents have questioned the grades I have given their child. They see invented spellings and things that aren't quite right, but I am grading on the process and mechanics. We work on spelling, but it's not a reason to fail a composition.

    Some kids and adults just can't spell...they're not dumb, they just have a hard time with it.
     
  9. LuvTchng

    LuvTchng Companion

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    Aug 4, 2006

    If your son has a weakness in math but has obvious strengths in other areas it is possible that he may have a specific learning disability in the area of mathematics. I'm more than a little reluctant to blame his first grade year (whether good or bad) on the problems he is experiencing now. Curriculum typically spirals as students progress through the grades so he would have come face to face with whatever he missed (if he did miss anything) at another grade level. What concerns me most is that he's gone so long without mastering a skill like addition and none of the teachers brought that to your attention.
    Good luck and don't worry about a thing. If in fact he is LD, he can still experience a lot of success in school with the right support. One of the professors in my masters of education program talked at length about how she did well in school and earned two college degrees once her learning disability in math was recognized and she started receiving modifications.
     
  10. NotATeacher :)

    NotATeacher :) New Member

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    Aug 4, 2006

    Thanks to you all for your replies. Regarding the math, he's been an A/B student all through school. He scored as "commended" on the math portion of his TAKS test. I'm just concerned about how difficult it seems for him--counting on his fingers and visually struggling trying to add in his head single digits. It's just a lot harder than it needs to be and makes me worry about the foundation he's trying to build on.

    Will the school think I'm a nut if I ask for LD testing under these circumstances? Am I a nut? Maybe this is normal. He's my oldest child, so he may be right on target.

    The spelling is another story. I'm sure he should be spelling better. I'll have him write some stories for me so I can try to find the pattern.

    Thanks again for your responses.
     
  11. NotATeacher :)

    NotATeacher :) New Member

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    Wanted to add that I will rethink my assertions about his teacher. It just seemed like addition and the words that he's primarily misspelling should have been mastered in first grade. Since my daughter had the other first grade teacher (there are only two in the school) and had much more practice with both sight words and match drills, I may have drawn a faulty conclusion. Thanks for pointing that out.
     
  12. cwp873

    cwp873 Comrade

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    Aug 4, 2006

    I would still suspect a Learning Disability. The fact that he is doing so well just goes to show how intelligent he is and that he has found ways to compensate. The fact that it's a struggle and that he's using fingers, poor spelling, etc, shows that there IS a problem. If you get him tested you're not out anything. If he DOESN'T have a disability--Woo Hoo! If he DOES he will hopefully get the extra help he needs.

    For the spelling, I would implement a phonetics approach. My guess is somehow he missed out on phonemic awareness and the connection between phonemes and the letters that represent them. He's relying on memory to spell words rather than recognizing common phonetic patterns, and as the vocabulary load is increasing his memory is overloaded.
     
  13. NotATeacher :)

    NotATeacher :) New Member

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    Great. That's what I needed to know. I'll check with the school. We live in a small, rural district. I hope they have what we need.

    I'm very sensitive to his struggles with math. My brain slammed shut on math in fourth grade. I always felt as if my employment opportunities were limited due to that weakness. English majors don't need much math. :D

    Thanks!
     
  14. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    You're not a nut; you're a caring, involved parent. It is completely within your rights to ask for academic testing if you have concerns. It can help to pinpoint learning difficulties, or rule them out. Testing can help to identify areas in which modifications or accomodations may be necessary and help the teacher with programming--go for it.
     

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