Need Math Help

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Mom4Him

Need Math Help

Post by Mom4Him » Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:38 pm

First, I haven't posted on the board for years, but wanted to say how much we are still loving HOD! This is our fifth year, and it continues to be an incredible blessing in our home! :D

But, I'm needing some advice, as math can be quite the struggle for my oldest girls. They are nine and in third grade - in the 27th week of Preparing (which is so wonderful!). We've used Singapore all the way through following HOD's guides and are now up to 3B. If tears or frustration are going to come, this is almost always when they come (I'd say a few times a week... so three out of four days - which could be much worse, but still makes me sad. :( ).

There are so many things about Singapore that I like. I LOVE that it teaches kids to think mathematically, that there really isn't any teacher preparation, that many math skills are incorporated in solving a single problem, that it's just the right amount of work and doesn't take "forever", that it seems to provide a solid base in problem solving and reasoning, and the "layered" approach that it has (without drilling a concept to death). :D

But...
We're having struggles with it. We've had some struggles in other years too, but once we got into 3A and 3B (without Carrie's wonderful hands-on activities)- it's been much more noticeable. I thought that they would start getting their facts, and they have gotten some, but I still find them counting on their fingers for "simple" addition facts (same with subtraction, multiplication...). I'm not sure if this is normal, or if I need to start "drilling" them more!? But, I hesitate to add more, as I'm afraid it would make them dislike math even more. :cry:

What's frustrating for me is that the text doesn't seem to teach how to do it, or what's important - so I feel like we're guessing all the time. (Maybe I need a bit more hand holding? Cause looking back through the books I can see how they're teaching the various concepts, but when I'm going through it with my girls they seem lost half the time. I feel jumbled. And their answers show they're not getting it.) From perusing the board, I've become more aware that "everything" is important... every picture, every example, etc. So, we study the pictures and do examples on the white board - we usually use a whiteboard for the text and then they work on their workbooks with me usually right by them. But I just don't feel like it's working. (As a side note- Growing up I was always good at math, so often times if they're stuck - I can't really "get" why they're not getting it.) So, for example- at new more tricky things... like long division, or finding the capacity or difference in capacity between gallons and quarts and cups and pints (total meltdowns on that one- I ended up putting it aside and saying they'd learn what they needed to through baking)... we're going through the steps, but still struggling. I wish I could explain it better.

Also, I know that Singapore is good with mental math. So I never know if they should be showing their work. (It never says either way.) So, if they get the right answer is that good? Even if they can't tell me how they got that answer? (I think the bigger problem comes when they get it wrong, and can't tell me how they got that answer either.)

I've thought about getting the Home Instructor Guides, but really don't want to add one more thing to our day - plus they're not really written the "Singapore way."

I think besides for not always getting it, one of the main struggles is the perfectionist sides as well as the competitive sides of my girls. One in particular HATES any time I mention that something is not quite right. Even telling her gently and kindly and also making sure to encourage her along the way- she gets very frustrated and says she can do it herself, but then gets almost all the answers wrong. She's actually probably better at math than her sister, but seems much, much worse because of the drama when she doesn't get something right. (Which is why I wish I could figure out the "teaching" time, because she seems to listen better at that point.) Also, they're very competitive. So, if one seems like they're a little ahead, the other is soon in tears (and feeling like they don't know how to do it). I've thought of trying to put them in different places in the book, or of having them do math at different times, but both of those options stress me out, as then I'd be adding more time just to get math done.

I've also thought about slowing down a bit, but I don't feel that's the best option either. As often the longer we're on one of the "tricky parts" the worse it seems to get. (Which is one thing I like about Singapore- that they don't stay TOO long on a subject... but bring it up in story problems and review.)

Ah! How can I like so, so much about a program, and yet have it be such a struggle? :shock:
Suggestions?
Help?
I think I'm looking ahead to future years when math will get much more tricky, and then I'll really be stuck not knowing how to "teach" it.
Thank you!
Jessica

Kathleen
Posts: 1980
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: NE Kansas

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Kathleen » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:53 pm

Jessica,
I know I can't answer all your questions, but we have been right there with you this year! Allison is 9, and she has done her share of crying during math this year. Maybe it's a 9-year-old girl thing?
We were having an especially hard time a couple months ago (long division), and for the last week, she is breezing through, telling her dad that she likes math, getting them all right, and best of all - no tears! And all I did was just keep plugging along with a smile. I think it takes some time and work when there are a lot of new things. Some encouragement from you that more practice will make it keep getting easier may go a long ways.

I can say that with my oldest, counting on his fingers & skip counting went away. But not in 3B. It was later, but he has no problems with his facts. And I didn't do extra drill with him. Allison is still doing the counting on her fingers, too, but I'm thinking it will go away with time and use.

OK, I know that wasn't much for you, but hopefully it helps a little.

Kathleen :D
Homeschooling mom to 6:
Grant - 19 Kansas State University
Allison - 15 World Geography
Garret - 13 Res2Ref
Asa - 8 Bigger
Quinn - 7 Bigger

Halle - 4 LHTH

Gwenny
Posts: 750
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:07 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Gwenny » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:11 am

My daughter, who is just finishing 3A, doesn't have all of her facts down, but I notice is getting more and more down as we go and we don't do any other drill. Sometimes when she is in the middle of a problem she gets a little flustered and can't remember the simplest addition problem to complete the more difficult problem she's working on. All of a sudden she can't remember 2+2 practically. She has so many things going on in her head. There have been times I thought she would never get something, but we would plug along and now she's doing great. At first I wasn't using the textbook at all, now I'm following Carrie's instructions in the back of the Preparing guide and doing the problems she says in both. I also read a post on here where someone asked about Singapore writing so many problems horizontally, like longer multiplication and division problems. I think it was Julie that said they want you to work on mental math. So, my daughter wasn't good at that. We've been doing the textbook problems orally and I make her try them mentally, like 45x9 and 165 divided by 9 and even a little harder ones. She would want to write them all down and would never see the numbers and think about what they really were. She would see 50-5 in a middle of a division problem and would go through the process of borrowing from the 5 to give to the ones when she knows what the answer is--she wasn't thinking about the meaning. Anyway, I help her think through the longer multiplication and division problems mentally and she's really doing well! She's really growing in that way of thinking. I'm shocked, it's my younger son who is the "mental math" guy. But, it works to works on it!

My mental math guy who just finished 2A, I always make him tell me how it got it and have him write it down. Even the simple ones because I know it will help him later. So, after he does the word problem in his head, I ask how to write what he did and then we write down 12x6=72. He even now says before I do, "okay, I know you want this part" and then writes it down.

Maybe one day you could work on the problems from the textbook and work on the board and then the next day do it again, or problems like it and then do the workbook? Get in 2 days of working on the concepts for every 1 day that is "scheduled" now. Maybe you could look back at some of the earlier concepts that lead into what you are learning now and be reminded of how it was taught?

As far as the daughter who doesn't like any input and says she can do it herself---that is pride and not accepting instruction. You can remind her of the verses that talk about a fool not accepting instruction and someone who is wise will listen to and accept it. The might be in the habit of math being a point where they have these "attitudes". Maybe you can do a "re-set" and talk about how everyone is going to come to the table with good attitudes and we will work on this together and we CAN do it. (don't forget the praying part!) We've all been frustrated but we're going to start fresh. Maybe change WHEN you do it? When they are fresher in the morning? Or maybe not so early in the morning?

Just some thoughts! Hang in there! Btw, I love HOD too and can't imagine not having it!
Nancy
Dd29 married (w/2 sons 1/2/14, 5/24/16), ds27, dd25 married (w/dd born 8/9/16), dd25, dd22
Dd 19 HS in special ed
Dd14 RevtoRev
Ds12 RevtoRev
Ds 9 Preparing
Dd 5 LHFHG

Nealewill
Posts: 1611
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:08 pm
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Nealewill » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:20 am

Just curious - you said you don't want to add the instructors guide. But have you seen them? It gives you hands on activities to do before you show them the book that gives more ways to introduce the topic. I find my kids really need the hands on activities to solidify the learning.
Daneale

DD 13 WG
DS 12 R2R
DD 10 R2R

Enjoyed DITHOR, Little Hearts, Beyond, Bigger, Preparing, CTC, R2R, RevtoRev, MtMM

Mom4Him

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Mom4Him » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:54 pm

Thank you everyone!
I think a big part of me was hoping to hear someone say that they've been (or are) where we are. That I'm not the only one, and that my nine-year-old girls aren't the only ones. :wink: Kathleen- you provided that for me, and I appreciate it more than you know. I've been coming to realize that if we only share that everything is going well, it can leave those of us that are struggling feeling even more discouraged. So, thank you! Some days it is so fun to see how my girls really are getting it, and they actually like math. Like today working on equivalent fractions, they did just great (who knew!?). :D I'm "just" praying that it becomes more frequent.

I appreciate the other hints and encouragement too (thank you, Gwenny!). :D

A lot of the textbook we do orally/mentally, otherwise we work it out on a whiteboard. I think one of my "issues" with Singapore, is that there is usually no explanation: this is how this should be done, this is why, etc. So I just guess. (for example I wish it would just say, "do these problems mentally") Another example would be the bar diagram. We've seen it throughout and used it to help us along, but it wasn't until I went searching through the HOD message board that I found out what an important tool/concept that is. Or, for long division, I had such a hard time trying to explain how to get (and why to subtract) the number that you subtract from the dividend to get the remainder (I don't even know what that number is called :oops: ) because only one time does it sort of point out that you multiply the quotient by the divisor to get that. I ended up explaining that we need to subtract how many have been divided so that we know how many more need to be divided or how many are left over, and that was just fine. But, without explanations given, I honestly have no idea if I'm explaining that right, or completely messing them up for when things become even more difficult in the future. :(

Maybe some of it is that I'm not confident in guiding them in the "Singapore way."

As crazy as it may sound, I really don't think we need to slow down. HOD's pace feels just right, and going too slow frustrates things even more. And honestly, they're much better at math than they think they are with all their tears. :wink: We've also tried different times of the day - even having daddy help out in the evenings, and that doesn't seem to make a difference.

Yes, we're all working on "pride" and selfishness issues here in our family. So glad for God's sweet grace and strength to get through the day, and His forgiveness to start again when we fail. Just one of the many reasons I love homeschooling - it's the gospel played out right in our living room. :D But it doesn't always make it easy.

Nealewill - I have seen the instructor's guide, and do think they could be helpful. Honestly, it seemed like it would add a lot of time to our day, and more juggling of books (and maybe it's just a bit frustrating to have to get one more book to add to our already full day). HOD doesn't recommend them until 5A or later and more for if you're stuck (if I'm remembering right?), after reading Carrie's thoughts on their reasoning, I remember that it made much sense to me (although I can't remember off the top of my head what exactly those thoughts were). :wink:

Thank you everyone for helping me figure this out, and for helping me not feel so crazy alone. :D
Jessica

Tmisek
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:38 am
Location: Nebraska

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Tmisek » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:04 pm

Hi Jessica!

Not sure I have any answers for you, but I wanted to chime in and say I understand where you are coming from! I am a bit farther along in Singapore with my 11 year old daughter. She is in the beginning of 5A. Incidentally, we have also been using HOD for 5 years! (And, I don't post much either!)

She is a very smart girl, and almost everything comes pretty easily for her…but not math. It is very frustrating for her. She still counts on her fingers for addition and subtraction. And multiplication facts are NOT sticking. I do think math would be much easier if she would just get her facts down, and we have worked on and off with learning them, but nothing consistent. I thought eventually she would just get them, but she is not, and it makes math way more frustrating for both of us and it takes longer. So, maybe some “fun” drilling…like a computer drill would be helpful and worthwhile? Or consistently doing a few flashcards each day in a “fun” way?

We rarely have tears anymore, fortunately. Maybe it is because she is older now. Also, I used to get very frustrated with it all, but I am much more relaxed about it now. If she doesn't understand I will just work with her patiently and we’ll move on to something else. I know you are working with two at the same time, so that makes it a bit more complicated I’m sure.

I have noticed the lack of explanation in the Singapore guides, but we just push through and try to understand best we can. The Home Instructors Guide, which we have never used before 5A, has been helpful a few times this year because it explains how to do some of the practice problems from the textbook that had us stumped! And there is more explanation in the HIG than in the Textbook if you need it. We mainly just use it when we are confused and it also has a nice answer key. So it probably will be helpful in the upper guides.

I have debated putting her in another math program, but I do see improvement in understanding (most of the time :wink: So, for now we will just keep plugging along...doing a lot of it together. Sometimes it clicks right away, but usually not so much! (Funny, I remember fractions also came pretty easy for her and I thought they would be terrible!) I will never expect her to love math, but I will expect her to do it to the best of her ability.

As a side note, I have a 9 yo son who is in 3B. He is naturally math minded and Singapore works very well for him. He is able to remember his facts pretty well without drilling, and often understands concepts before we even learn them! He often gets the answers to problems before I do. He likes to do things in his head, and I don’t make him show work. Sometimes I will ask him how he got an answer. And if he gets something wrong we always work together on a white board, and he usually realizes where he went wrong at that point. Night and day as far as teaching math!

One last thing. I also deal with a bit of competition with my younger two who are both in Bigger. And, of course, attitudes are a struggle sometimes as well for ALL of us. :oops: I have recently put a token reward system in place which seems to be working (when I am consistent with it). They can earn a total of 3 tokens each day: one for being cheerful during school, one for being careful with their work, and one for being good listeners (basically meaning listen and obey). They have 3 strikes for each token, and if they get 3 strikes in one category they won’t get that token for the day, (but could still get the ones they didn’t strike out on). Then on Fridays they can “buy” a reward with their tokens from the treasure box…the good things cost more! I never thought I would like to implement a reward system, but was feeling a bit desperate!

I guess my advice would be to just keep plugging away. And enjoy fractions for awhile! :)
Tammy

Mommy of 3 treasures:
dd14
ds12
dd10

:) Enjoyed: LHFHG through MTMM!

Mom4Him

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Mom4Him » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:36 pm

Tammy - Your words are like a breath of fresh air. :D To know someone understands is so very encouraging. Thank you!
I too have contemplated switching, but there are so many things I like about Singapore - so I'm praying hard about that one.
And my next daughter in line is also naturally math minded (like your son) - I love that she just "gets it" without any fuss.
Oh, what an incredible God to craft each one of our children so uniquely.
~Jessica

Gwenny
Posts: 750
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:07 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Gwenny » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:22 pm

Mom4Him, what's the deal with the bar diagram? I think I'm missing it too!

We are all working on the pride and selfishness too! :) We all get to "help" each other every day. haha

I let my daughter look at a multiplication grid that's pinned to the corkboard. She knows how to multiply and what it means, so I don't mind her looking at the chart for the answers while she works on a larger multiplication problem or a division problem. She says she feels like she is cheating. :) I think she's learning her facts quicker by using that and it helps her not get bogged down in the problems she is doing.

Side note: both my 11 yo and my 9 yo melted down during math today! They had been sailing along for awhile-oops-we hit a wall again. haha

Don't switch!! You know the saying, "the grass is greener..." With my older set of children I hopped all over the math curriculums trying to find the best one--poor things. Nothing was ever perfect or made math effortless. I was just talking with another mom who said that she switched so many times over the years--she so wishes she had just stuck with one curriculum and done it all.

Blessings!
Nancy
Dd29 married (w/2 sons 1/2/14, 5/24/16), ds27, dd25 married (w/dd born 8/9/16), dd25, dd22
Dd 19 HS in special ed
Dd14 RevtoRev
Ds12 RevtoRev
Ds 9 Preparing
Dd 5 LHFHG

Mom4Him

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Mom4Him » Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:58 pm

Thanks, Nancy! You are so very encouraging to me! :D

And I have no idea how to explain the bar diagram. :wink: Just had seen it a few times on different threads, and realized we should pay attention to it more, and although I'd seen it in the books and we've used it - I never really gave thought to the fact that we should use it for solving other math problems.

And I'm not a curriculum hopper. :D Because, yep, I know all curriculum has its pluses and minuses. (And we love, love, love HOD - so that makes it much easier!) Just wondering at what point in the tears and frustration do you realize that it's just not working and you need to try something else!?

I want to persevere, even when it's hard - but I also want to be compassionate to and understanding of my children. For very, very rarely do tears spring up at other times of the school day (even in other areas that are difficult or they don't always seem to really like or "get" - like grammar).

Oh, how I appreciate each of you working this out with me and bringing encouragement along the way!
~Jessica

my3sons
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Location: South Dakota

Re: Need Math Help

Post by my3sons » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:46 pm

What a great thread - this should be one to remember and refer to often! :D Such wise words here! :D One comment as far as the 'do they have to work it out or not?' In the Textbook portion, I make them work it out the way Singapore guides them to (often noted by Singapore in thinking word bubbles). In the Workbook portion, if they want to do it more mentally and they are able to get it right, I'm all good with that, until they miss several problems. :wink: Then, I just point out they need to go back to doing it the way I just taught them in the textbook, as their way (for now) isn't working, but I always stress I like that they are trying to do math mentally and that this is a great way to continue to build that skill over time, though maybe it's just not the best way to work problems with skills they JUST learned. :wink: Oh, and I do make them draw out the 'bars' for word problems that the Textbook examples showed them to do that for - as this is a WONDERFUL way to solve future, more difficult problems. (Solve for the 'unit' and you can figure out the answer to almost anything! It's pre algebra made easy, really.) That is just what we do though, so those are just some thoughts to ponder as you decide how you want to approach this. :D

In Christ,
Julie
Enjoyed LHTH to USII
Currently using USII, MTMM
Wife to Rich for 25 years
Mother to 3 sons, ages 20, 17, and 13
Author of Women's Devotional https://www.ebay.com/itm/293355757184
Blogger https://my3sons-julie.blogspot.com/
Sister to Carrie

Gwenny
Posts: 750
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:07 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Gwenny » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:59 am

What are the "bars" that you are talking about? I'm missing something! :)
Nancy
Dd29 married (w/2 sons 1/2/14, 5/24/16), ds27, dd25 married (w/dd born 8/9/16), dd25, dd22
Dd 19 HS in special ed
Dd14 RevtoRev
Ds12 RevtoRev
Ds 9 Preparing
Dd 5 LHFHG

my3sons
Posts: 10599
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2007 7:08 pm
Location: South Dakota

Re: Need Math Help

Post by my3sons » Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:44 pm

The 'bars' are my personal way of explaining 'units' and how the textbook depicts them. For example, if you and I sold 240 candy bars, and you sold twice as much as me, how many did we each sell?

This would show a bar broken into 2 parts for you, and another 1 bar for me, then that would show 3 equal units, dividing 240 by 3 = 80. So, now that we know the unit, we know that you sold 160 candy bars, and I sold 80 candy bars.

This is not a mathematical term - it is just something I say to explain it to my kids! So, you are not missing anything. :wink: :D

In Christ,
Julie
Enjoyed LHTH to USII
Currently using USII, MTMM
Wife to Rich for 25 years
Mother to 3 sons, ages 20, 17, and 13
Author of Women's Devotional https://www.ebay.com/itm/293355757184
Blogger https://my3sons-julie.blogspot.com/
Sister to Carrie

Nealewill
Posts: 1611
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:08 pm
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Nealewill » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:01 pm

Mom4Him wrote:Thank you everyone!
Nealewill - I have seen the instructor's guide, and do think they could be helpful. Honestly, it seemed like it would add a lot of time to our day, and more juggling of books (and maybe it's just a bit frustrating to have to get one more book to add to our already full day). HOD doesn't recommend them until 5A or later and more for if you're stuck (if I'm remembering right?), after reading Carrie's thoughts on their reasoning, I remember that it made much sense to me (although I can't remember off the top of my head what exactly those thoughts were). :wink:
I totally get it not wanting to add more. I also want you to know you are NOT the only one. My oldest dd couldn't get it all until she could feel it :-) Once she could play with it with her hands, she had it! It was a life saver. That was the only reason that I asked. And I don't think HOD actually recommends it specifically but I think if you felt you needed it, you could get it.

Also - if your girls are struggling on their math facts, I started quizzing my kids on them every day for 5 minutes. That helped a ton too. One other thing I have done is there are several free apps on the iPad under a group called AppTutor. They have tons of different ones but my oldest dd watched the ones for rounding, long division, long multiplication, long addition and a few others. The app would have the child watch this 5 minute tutorial video and walk you through the process. Then it has you work through it letting you only do it correctly step by step. That app was also a life saver. So if wasn't speaking her language, then I would put the workbook away for a day or two, do the app tutor and then in a day or two she had it. Now my son, he is always drawing his answers out. I don't care if the book says do it mentally or not. If he wants to draw it, I let him. This really helps him tremendously. As for my youngest, she will use her imagination to do her work. I will also let all of them use hands on manipulatives if they needs as well if they need it for the introduction of the topic. Praying for you though that things get better!
Daneale

DD 13 WG
DS 12 R2R
DD 10 R2R

Enjoyed DITHOR, Little Hearts, Beyond, Bigger, Preparing, CTC, R2R, RevtoRev, MtMM

Mom4Him

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Mom4Him » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:22 pm

Thanks so much, Daneale! You have encouraged me and given me some great ideas. And your prayers are so appreciated. :D
And, Julie, thanks for the help with the bar diagram, as well as the reminder that the information in the "thinking word bubbles" is often the way things are explained. :D
I'm going to keep praying about what is best for my girls and our family, and am so thankful for all the great ideas you've all given me.
~Jessica

Mom4Him

Re: Need Math Help

Post by Mom4Him » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:19 pm

It's been a week since I first asked all of you for help with math. I honestly think I've fallen asleep every night in the last week praying about what would be best for our family. There have been barely any tears - which is a huge praise. :D But, today I was reminded of our struggle (although there was not one tear!!!) - and wanted to share while it is fresh in my mind, so maybe you can understand a little of where the struggle is coming from.

We've been working on equivalent fractions, and my girls are getting it enough to complete the pages. In today's lesson the textbook asks you to find the equivalent fractions of 6/12, and then wants you to give the simplest equivalent fraction of 6/12. I know that it's 1/2, but there was no explanation of what the simplest equivalent fraction is, or what makes it the simplest, or how to find out if it's the simplest. It then goes on to ask you to "express each one of the following (8) fractions in its simplest form." I looked back at different pages/lessons, and ahead too to see if there was any explanation (in the pictures, word bubbles, etc.), but there wasn't. So, when my girls had no idea what the "simplest form" meant, I did my best to explain - but honestly have no idea if I explained things the right way, or if I just messed them up. The workbook asked for the simplest form as well, and they sort of got it - I think, maybe? :roll: Maybe I'm missing something. But it was a good example to show how most of the year has gone/felt. :wink:

Does Singapore continue this way?

Also, while we were doing simple division and multiplication to find the equivalent fractions, they were struggling with the simplest problems. I'm going to look into some math games for the computer, as at this point I think our math time would go much smoother if they know what 10 divided by 2 is. :wink:

Thanks everyone for your help and encouragement, and the sweet realization that I'm/we're not the only one struggling. Thank you.
Jessica

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