Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Midwest Homeschool Convention - When Math Doesn't Come Easily

From a seminar on struggling readers, I headed to my second seminar on Friday - Kathy Kuhl's When Math Doesn't Come Easily. Kathy Kuhl is an author, experienced homeschooler, and a homeschool consultant. She was also a junior high math teacher and computer programmer. Her website is Learn Differently. Because Kathy also had a child who struggled with math for years, I knew I'd be able to relate to her information. Since I have one child that definitely struggles with math, I hoped to find some practical strategies as well as some encouragement at this seminar.

When Math Doesn't Come Easily
How do you teach math effectively to a child with learning challenges? How do you bear tackling math facts again? How do you move beyond the times tables when your child has not mastered them? What are your options for high school math? Veteran homeschooler and math teacher Kathy Kuhl discusses working with children with difficulties in math, and shares strategies you can incorporate into any math curriculum

The handout from the seminar can be found on Kathy's website HERE.  You can also email her for a .pdf of her slide presentation.

You need to understand what can cause math problems. Then you can help your child.

Areas to Help:
Attitude, Approach, Aids, and Accommodations.

Sometimes inadequate instruction is the problem; sometimes it's an emotional block (pseudo-dyscalculia).
Dyscalculia (dis-cal-cue-lee-ah) is a word that means problems with math. (Like dyslexia for reading...)
Free download - What is Dyscalculia by Adler

Learning disabilities have several areas that can be affected.
Input - neurological processing
Integration - putting the pieces together
Memory - working memory (short-term)
Output - being able to answer

Other learning disabilities can afffect math performance.
Learning math facts is primarily an auditory skill.
The right parietal lobe of the brain keeps the "math sense".

Symptoms of dyscalculia in a school-age child: reversals, problems with greater than/less than, number sense not developing.

Time for some Solutions!
-work on YOURS first
-praise and encourage the child
-For the child to learn patience, we have to demonstrate patience.
-Perseverance has value.
-Ease anxiety with math games and patterns (check out the Fibonacci sequence, the golden rectangle and golden spiral, 24 hours of peace and quiet e-book, Escher.)

-Apply a multi-sensory modal approach like this:
MAKE IT (concrete)
DRAW IT (representational)
WRITE IT (abstract)
don't skip a step - all are important, even if your child balks.
-hands-on materials
teach the MEANING of division with a muffin pan
pattern blocks can illustrate fractions
learn how to use array multiplication (I can't find an easy website that explains this, but I'll keep looking.)
-MSL Multi-sensory Structured Language approach
-Use hand motions when appropriate (she demonstrated for long division and multiplication)
-Coding (use colors to indicate patterns, such as always writing certain numbers with certain colors)
-parentheses - squaring a binomial - say, "The role of 'a' is being played by ...." etc. Use parentheses to hold the value of the variable. (This made sense when I wrote it down! LOL)
-Limited working memory can limit you, so write out ALL steps.
-go from what's known to what's unknown. Use really large numbers with same skill. If child can do 10+10, then try 10,000,000 + 10,000,000. They'll feel really skilled!
-Explain the big picture.
-manage the workload (don't need to do every problem)
-repeat a grade level or concept with another curriculum to reinforce
-call it an "assessment" not a test

14 ways to learn the dreaded math facts:
1- choose your best time of day
2- Limit to 5-10 minutes once or twice a day. DO NOT TIME THEM.
3 - Mad Minute drill book (but not timed!)
4 - Calculadder (but not timed!)
5 - Triangular flashcards
6 - Hundred chart with 2 ten-sided (or six-sided) dice to practice operations
7 - Learning Wrap-ups
8 - Learning Palette
9 - Practice on trampoline or jumprope, add with each bounce
10 - Drill games online
11 - Use stories like Dianne Craft's or
12 - skip counting on audio recordings
13 - learn the 9's facts with finger clues
14 - Koosh ball, toss back and forth, once for problem, second time for answer.

HANDOUT on her website explains these ideas better

-Let child use a times table; an ELL shape (like a carpenter's square) will help them find the answer
-Calculators (details on website to help with long division)
-Have child make a math manual; when they understand the concept, they can write it out. When they've later forgotten, they can look it up in their own writing.
-Watch for reversals and train them to watch for them too
-Consumers math (boy scout merit badge book is great)
-Mnemonics (quadratic formula to tune of Pop goes the weasel)
-Do fun things with math

She mentioned that Brock and Fernette Eide's book is coming in paperback in June. I'm not sure, however, which Eide book she meant. Here are two of their titles: The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain and The Mislabeled Child: How Understanding Your Child's Unique Learning Style Can Open the Door to Success.

GREAT Seminar chock-ful of wonderful ideas, solid information, and useful tips!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey this is good stuff. I struggled with math through out my school career. It wasn't until I was in college that I was officially tested and diagnosed with a " visual spatial learning disability"- what a relief to know i wasn't stupid or lazy; my brain just does not process spatial concepts well. -janet