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Struggles with Daily Math

struggles with math


What do you do when your child struggles with daily work? It can be confusing! Let me suggest a few ideas:

  • check the curriculum

  • try to motivate kids to work more carefully

  • consider using a test to inform you on a grade, or provide a grade that reflects their poor scores.


Karen asked a question about her son's math, and I will illustrate how she can use these strategies to help.

Hi Lee, I bought your book, Setting the Records Straight and want to ask what to do on my son's records (age 14) when his math (Saxon) scores on his daily work are about a C- to D- grade, which he has to fix on his own and score 100% before he passes, but this is a consistent problem he is unable to correct. If I say he is an A or B grade because he self corrects and eventually gets 100%, that isn't going to work w/ college because they only give 1 chance, and the truth will be known. I don't test him--just give him daily work. What grade should I give him? I am confused and really think he might have some learning problems.
Thank you,
Karen

If your son is doing very poorly on daily work, then that may not be the best math program for him. I know that Saxon is rated very highly, but he will learn more if he uses a curriculum that's a good FIT - even if it isn't rated quite so highly.  Check out my article on "Love of Math" and see if you can find a curriculum that's a good fit for him:  For the Love of Math

If you believe the curriculum is a good fit, then you might want to reward him for working carefully on his daily work.  Ask him to do half the problems (odd numbers or even numbers).  If he gets a good percentage correct (say 90%) then he can skip the other problems.  If he gets less than 90%, then he needs to correct the problems he gets wrong and do the other half of the assignment.

Occasional tests can provide some college preparation. You're right, in college you can't just get a bunch of problems wrong all the time and still end up with a good grade. Colleges use a lot of bubble tests, so it's important for kids to do well on simple tests. In fact, some of my friends with college kids tell me they wish they would have prepared their children for test situations.  Not that you have to test in every subject, but having a regular test in something like math can help kids figure out what tests are like, so they don't become fearful.

If you are happy with your strategy and curriculum, and you just want some ideas about grading and how it will work when he gets in college, that's a different issue. It's hard to decide what an appropriate class grade will be for him. I think your best bet is to give him a test once in a while, so he knows it "counts" and will actually help determine his grade for the class based on comprehension.  Without a test, I think I would consider whether this level of math might be too hard for him. With poor daily grades, the grade for the class will likely be poor as well.  Your goal is comprehension, of course, not a grade, but if daily work doesn't show understanding, it won't be a good grade.  At the most, I would only increase his course grade slightly, perhaps by half a letter grade.

In general, focus on comprehension and mastery - not working at a certain speed. The grade isn't as important as his understanding.






 

 

If you need any extra help, check out my Gold Care Club, with templates and tools that will help you along your homeschool high school adventure.   
Getting Enough Credits While Homeschooling High Sc...
Homeschooling High School - The Difference Between...
 

Comments 6

Guest - Kathleen on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 05:46

I have a similar situation to Margaret, but it is different enough that I want to pose the question: Using a popular homeschool computer-based math program, our son began Algebra 1 in 7th grade, then Algebra 2 in 8th grade, and Geometry in 9th grade. He got solid A's in each course, but I was concerned when his PSAT and SAT scores (taken in 10th grade) weren't what they should be for having gotten A's. Since he is considering engineering, and needs to be very strong in math, I had him take the Saxon Algebra 2 placement test. Imagine my shock and surprise when he needed to start that book from the beginning! How do I reflect this on a transcript? Right now, I figure he HAS taken 3 levels of high school math with A's in all, and the Saxon is reviewing/reinforcing. And perhaps, also causing him to question his desire for engineering, considering it takes him a solid 2 hours to do math (and that is only 1/2 the problems!) Any advice?

I have a similar situation to Margaret, but it is different enough that I want to pose the question: Using a popular homeschool computer-based math program, our son began Algebra 1 in 7th grade, then Algebra 2 in 8th grade, and Geometry in 9th grade. He got solid A's in each course, but I was concerned when his PSAT and SAT scores (taken in 10th grade) weren't what they should be for having gotten A's. Since he is considering engineering, and needs to be very strong in math, I had him take the Saxon Algebra 2 placement test. Imagine my shock and surprise when he needed to start that book from the beginning! How do I reflect this on a transcript? Right now, I figure he HAS taken 3 levels of high school math with A's in all, and the Saxon is reviewing/reinforcing. And perhaps, also causing him to question his desire for engineering, considering it takes him a solid 2 hours to do math (and that is only 1/2 the problems!) Any advice?
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 14:40

Dear Kathleen,
Lee talks about explaining unusual situations in your homeschool cover letter: Writing a Homeschool Profile Letter Also, Lee talks about including middle school credits on transcripts that are presented by subject, rather than year here: How Do I Show 8th Grade Classes on a High School Transcript? But Lee often talks about showing your child at their best, so you will have to decide whether or not to include those credits earned in middle school. Of course, my answers are pretty general. To learn more about how to create records for your unique situation, consider The HomeScholar Gold Care Club! Lee would love to talk to you, and she will have more specific answers for you.
Blessings,
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Dear Kathleen, Lee talks about explaining unusual situations in your homeschool cover letter: Writing a Homeschool Profile Letter Also, Lee talks about including middle school credits on transcripts that are presented by subject, rather than year here: How Do I Show 8th Grade Classes on a High School Transcript? But Lee often talks about showing your child at their best, so you will have to decide whether or not to include those credits earned in middle school. Of course, my answers are pretty general. To learn more about how to create records for your unique situation, consider The HomeScholar Gold Care Club! Lee would love to talk to you, and she will have more specific answers for you. Blessings, Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Margaret (website) on Thursday, 23 February 2012 14:45

Lee, thank you so much! That is helpful.

Lee, thank you so much! That is helpful.
Guest - Lee (website) on Thursday, 23 February 2012 13:04

Margaret, you can give credit either by the book (1 textbook = 1 credit) or by giving 1 credit per year of work, perhaps calling it Algebra 1A and the next year Algebra 1B. for more information, see my free class on grades, credits, and transcripts here: http://www.thehomescholar.com/homeschool-transcripts-webinar.php
Blessings,
Lee

Margaret, you can give credit either by the book (1 textbook = 1 credit) or by giving 1 credit per year of work, perhaps calling it Algebra 1A and the next year Algebra 1B. for more information, see my free class on grades, credits, and transcripts here: http://www.thehomescholar.com/homeschool-transcripts-webinar.php Blessings, Lee
Guest - Margaret (website) on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 17:42

This post is very helpful and timely for me! But it brings up another question. You say: "In general, focus on comprehension and mastery – not working at a certain speed." My son is struggling with algebra and it will take him longer than a typical academic year to complete it. Can I grant a credit for algebra if it takes him, say a full 12 months or even longer? Does a course have to be completed within an academic year to count for a credit? That is something I've never been clear on. Thanks!

This post is very helpful and timely for me! But it brings up another question. You say: "In general, focus on comprehension and mastery – not working at a certain speed." My son is struggling with algebra and it will take him longer than a typical academic year to complete it. Can I grant a credit for algebra if it takes him, say a full 12 months or even longer? Does a course have to be completed within an academic year to count for a credit? That is something I've never been clear on. Thanks!
Guest - Rebecca (website) on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 11:09

I would also suggest making sure he knows his arithmetic facts well (or have him use a calculator) and have him write out every step to the problem. When I was in school, I failed algebra the first time I took it, simply due to errors in arithmetic and faulty reasoning due to skipping steps. I took the class again with a different teacher who required that we write out every single step in solving the problem, and that we check our arithmetic with a calculator, and I passed with a good solid B.

I would also suggest making sure he knows his arithmetic facts well (or have him use a calculator) and have him write out every step to the problem. When I was in school, I failed algebra the first time I took it, simply due to errors in arithmetic and faulty reasoning due to skipping steps. I took the class again with a different teacher who required that we write out every single step in solving the problem, and that we check our arithmetic with a calculator, and I passed with a good solid B.
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