help my dd move forward pleeeeeeeeese!

(28 Posts)
morethanpotatoprints Mon 25-Feb-13 20:15:42


We have been H.ed since Sept as many of you know and the reason was to spend more time on her musical activities.
Now all is well except anything at all to do with Maths and English.
Firstly spelling is really bad, handwriting has improved a bit and she is enjoying reading more. She won't do any comprehension or story writing at all.
Maths seems to be going backwards even though she will happily do activities, games, workbooks etc.
I really don't know what to tackle first, I don't push her but leave hints about the place. My main concern is that everybody needs to be able to do English and Maths.
I am already paying for lots of musical lessons and activities so can't afford software, tutors etc.
Where do I start? Am I panicking and she will be ok.

ZZZenAgain Fri 01-Mar-13 19:08:18

hard to trust that everything will work out alright. I would be like you, worrying about it! However I think that is just normal motherhood.

As for writing, how about recitation? If you can tell a story well, you can write it well. You could read a story to her, then have her read it aloud with a lot of expression, talk about it a bit to weave in any interesting vocab and then ask her to retell the story. With time, she will get better at it, telling it in her own words but keeping some interesting turns of phrase. I used to do this when dd was small with Aesop's fables. Basically just to keep her English vocabulary developing well, since we were in a non-English speaking country. I used to print them out from the Baldwin Project. If you google it, it should come up.I always let dd choose the story herself so she didn't feel she was being made to do it.

You can then, if you both want to, go off and find out a bit about the animal(s) in that particular fable.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Feb-13 14:40:11

Morethan, don't worry, everyone panics from time to time :-) You'll become more confident as you see your daughter grow and you realise that what you are doing is working, even if not to someone else's timetable.

And yes, definitely, diary-writing skills lead into essay-writing - you don't write things randomly in a diary, do you? You probably want to organise your description chronologically, write about each bit, introduce new people, etc. If she's writing anything, I think that's great.

I used a book from the Writing Strands course with my ds, and really like the books - even if your daughter didn't want to work through one, it would probably give you some ideas (not National Curriculum ideas either!) on how to coax a bit more out of her.

And I don't necessarily think it's harder to catch up (with whom?) with maths. I actually tutor maths, and I have a lovely late-twenties tutee at the moment - he was in set 6 out of 7 the whole way through secondary school, and he's now redoing his maths gcse, is going to pass easily - in fact should get a B - and is really enjoying it.

It's always easiest to learn something when you're in the right time and place for it. Your daughter will find hers, honest :-)

seeker Thu 28-Feb-13 13:27:20

Saracen- he only "looks" because he has me sussed. Dd, for whom I embedded, didn't notice. Until her sharp as a tack little brother pointed it out to her! A bit like the Christian allegory in The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe.

Saracen Thu 28-Feb-13 13:23:29

"The maths strategies I embedded in our lives to help the older one still come out- and the younger one gives me such looks! We can't cook without me asking him to double things and halve things!"

That reminds me of a time when I had a couple of boys round here for the day, friends of my daughter, aged about 7 and 9 at the time. Things were quiet and peaceful, with kids doing various things, when I asked, "Anyone want to help me bake?" expecting either an enthusiastic or noncommittal response from each.

"NO WAY," said one. "I do NOT do baking." Oh, OK, I thought, strange... Then his brother said suspiciously, "That depends. Exactly what do I have to do?"

"Whatever you want," I said. "I don't care. It's gingerbread. Do you want to add stuff, mix, cut out shapes, do the icing?"

"Well," he declared, "As long as I don't have to measure or double or any of that stuff."

Eventually it was decided that I'd make the dough and all the kids would cut out the shapes. As they tried to make best use of the available dough, I resisted the temptation to tease them by mentioning tesselations.

Maths happens. You don't have to "embed" it. They can watch you doubling and halving things when you need to, without being made to do it themselves before they want to. If you push it on them to the extent that they are giving you such looks, you may be at risk of putting them off baking as well as maths. This "catching up" idea is only relevant in a school context. For children not at school, with whom or what do they need to catch up, and why? They'll get where they need to be eventually. It doesn't matter whether that happens at the age of nine or fifteen or twenty.

seeker Thu 28-Feb-13 10:08:13

Bear in mind that they don't start writing essays til secondary school- plenty of time for that.

I would definitely say keep an eye on the maths, though. much hqrderbto catch up if necessary there.Reading and writing is easily incorporated into every day life- maths takes a bit more of an effort, particularly if you are like me and not particularly mathematically inclined. I had a maths struggling child- and I didn't realise how much she struggled until I had one that didn't, if you see what I mean. The maths strategies I embedded in our lives to help the older one still come out- and the younger one gives me such looks! We can't cook without me asking him to double things and halve things!

morethanpotatoprints Thu 28-Feb-13 09:54:50


I know you are talking sense and from other threads read on here, believe autonomous education really works. I have a panic button and it only takes one person at home to mention lack of progress and unfortunately I hit the button.
I also struggle atm working out what is and isn't important in terms of content of a subject.
It was future essay writing that was worrying me a little. Moreover, how do you get from writing a diary to be able to write essays, when the time comes.
Story cubes, sounds really good I will definitely have a look at this.

A very interesting article, it makes sense too. Thanks.

Thanks everybody for your thought provoking comments, experience and advice.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Feb-13 08:17:54

Oops, pressed post by accident.

My 10 year old loves story cubes, and has 3 sets I think. You could use them really effectively to stretch her vocab, I would imagine. I wouldn't worry about getting her to write down a story at the moment, either just do it orally, or you could do the writing. If you write it down, then the pair of you could go through it together, look at the punctuation, see how it could be made more exciting.

Not surprised she doesn't want to do any comprehension though - boring! And not all children find creative writing appealing, and I'm not at all sure why it's so insisted upon. Writing a sensible letter, or a factual essay, sure.

Listening to audiobooks or being read to are good ways to be exposed to language that might be a bit above her level of reading.

Autonomous education is a long term strategy. You might not see progress in each individual area in two months. I'm sure you saw some bigger jumps, and some things that didn't seem to change - that's natural, and normal. If it's the path you'd really like to be following, give it a bit more time. You have to put the idea of measuring progress aside for a bit, and look at the overall picture. Is your daughter happy? Is she engaged with what she's doing?

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Feb-13 07:48:42

Intriguing idea seeker - but what about those who are interested before 16?

Bearandcub Wed 27-Feb-13 23:27:34

Just read Seekers post up thread which sentyind whirring to these

guardian article

The detail may be beyond her age but the content should be of interest to you in approaching the subject matter: maths and music.

Bearandcub Wed 27-Feb-13 23:20:10

fairy tale dice not sure if these would be any use to you but I am considering them as a reward pressie for my neice (9) who just been a star recently.

Saracen Wed 27-Feb-13 23:07:45

Here's John Bennett, a secondary maths teacher, arguing against forcing maths upon young people who aren't interested:

and the fascinating case of several American schools which removed maths entirely from the first six years of the primary curriculum in the 1920s: It would seem that by the age of eleven, the children who were taught no mathematics had a BETTER conceptual understanding of it than those who had been taught it for the previous six years. It's true that their ability to perform rote computation was lower, but they were able to make up all the lost ground in that area in a single year.

I don't understand how there has come to be such a mystique about maths, or why so many people who support autonomous education in other subjects balk when it comes to maths.

There is plenty of time. Wait until she wants it. By that time you may discover that she has somehow picked up a large proportion of what she needs along the way, and moreover she won't think that maths is a horrible unpleasant thing.

My dd went to school around her tenth birthday, with no experience of formal maths. I thought she would be behind her classmates: she didn't even know all of the multiplication tables. Well, to my surprise, neither did they, despite all that teaching. But there was one big difference between my daughter and the children who had been taught maths for the previous five years. Many of them said that they "couldn't do" maths, "were rubbish" at it, "hated" it. My dd, on the other hand, thought she was pretty good at maths. In her opinion, the only reason she didn't know 7x8 and could not multiply fractions was that she had not happened to bother to learn how to do it yet. She was confident that she would do it one day.

Perhaps educators should be guided by that principle of medical ethics: "First, do no harm."

morethanpotatoprints Wed 27-Feb-13 10:44:22

Seeker, that's very interesting, almost like saying yes that is a much better way, but we'll carry on regardless.
I think the mantra of have to get Maths, English GCSE grade A-C, is embedded from a very early age and it does put pressure on dc and parents.

seeker Tue 26-Feb-13 22:02:48

I remember being in a meeting with a long ago Secretary of State for Education to discuss maths teaching. A very eminent HMI had written a think piece about not teaching maths at all until A level. His idea was that if you were interested in maths qua maths, then you should study it as an academic subject at A level, but before that, and if you weren't interested in it you learned maths best by doing it embedded in subjects that did interest you. It made such sense to me, but it was so against the prevailing mood of the day that it got short shift.

catnipkitty Tue 26-Feb-13 22:01:20

In my experience my 3 DDs (age 8 and 9) have learnt most of their spelling just from reading - they are all avid readers - but this didn't happen as soon as they came out of school, it took a good few months for them to relax into enjoying reading. They all have penpals which is how they practise their writing, and they ask me how to spell words they don't know, and also play alot and incorporate writing notes etc in to their games. They all did the typical 'spelling tests' at school and these are such a useless way to learn spellings.

Maths and number skills happen on a daily basis but nothing formal AT ALL! In fact I try to avoid any reference to 'maths' at all - DD1 came out of school having lost all confidence in her maths abilities. All sorts of things contribute - practical household jobs - measuring, baking- playing boards and card and money.

Definately do not push these things, it will be entirely detrimental.
Hope this helps
C x

morethanpotatoprints Tue 26-Feb-13 21:49:44


I will ask our library to get the book, next time we go. I keep buying too much stuff and must watch it atm grin
How do you manage to stay autonomous if you know they struggle in a certain direction?
We started off really formally and it didn't work, I read a couple of books and loved the idea of autonomous learning and we tried this throughout Nov and Dec, I think. I panicked that she wasn't learning enough and now with the English and Maths seeming problematic went back to structured learning.
I am so envy as I think this freedom would be great for dd and go well with her musical ambitions. But I'm a big panicking chicken.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 26-Feb-13 21:43:09

Hi Seeker.

Thank you for the reply. I think I tend to worry about spelling because having grown up in an era before spell check and being dyslexic I had to work extremely hard to spell proper grin. There is a significant improvement in her reading and she has a completely different attitude towards reading for pleasure now.

The music idea is brilliant and surprisingly enough not something we had considered. You know from my many music posts how much she does, actually doing more seemed too much, so hadn't considered this. Genius thanks

chocolatecrispies Tue 26-Feb-13 21:40:25

Have you read how children fail by John Holt? It is all about maths. Do you have much contact with other home educators other than on mumsnet ? I ask because you seem quite concerned about where she should be compared to schooled children and to be honest I think things can develop completely differently. Ideas that work well at school may be a complete flop at home. Have you tried asking for ideas on an online HE group? Can you do maths and English through her passions - I.e music? Writing songs, a musical, a review of a CD - what would grab her attention and enthusiasm? I would start with her and what sets her alive rather than with any set ideas of what she should be doing at this stage. But then we are autonomous and plan to remain so!

seeker Tue 26-Feb-13 21:23:16

If I were you, I would back off about the spelling-if she's enjoying reading, then focus on that. Makes ure she reads every day- you have to practice reading lots for it to become really automatic. Spelling will come- and (heresy here) if she's never a brilliant speller it's not a real disaster is it?
Maths is a different thing, IMHO. Have you tried online maths games and things? Could you use music and work with octaves and half and quarter notes and beats in a bar and time signatures? Not sure exactly how that would work, but I'm sure someone cleverer than me will come along in a minute with ideas!

morethanpotatoprints Tue 26-Feb-13 19:21:58

Thank you nilbyname.

I will have a look at your suggestions and maybe see if a free trial is available. Its difficult knowing where to start as obviously she understands some aspects.
She was referred to SALT during pre school as she struggled with sounds and has never really cottoned on to some words. I think it may be auditory based but didn't go down the assessment route. She says things like ak least or ak last

nilbyname Tue 26-Feb-13 16:17:45

Look at read write inc online, can't link from phone. Or letters and sounds online too.

Hairy letters is a good app, but might be too simple, but could be a good confidence builder 😃

morethanpotatoprints Tue 26-Feb-13 15:57:29

Wow thanks nilby.

I will have a look at this tonight as have to take dd dancing now, thanks again.
I don't suppose you have any suggestions to help with sounding letters and groups of letters to help with spelling, one of the main problems is not being able to sound?

nilbyname Tue 26-Feb-13 15:23:07

Be honest with her, tell her. You are working at level blah blah, and in 6 month by doing this, you will be working at level blah or blah?

nilbyname Tue 26-Feb-13 15:22:08


Age 9, year 4?

She should be coping with VCOP pyramids and using the language there within to make stories?

Language and Communication underpins good writing, so I would...

If you were going to try and write a fairy tale (for example) I would start with

Reading a fairy tale, watch a short film, then story map it, then hot seat some of the characters, then sequence the original story with pictures, then look at alternative endings. This should all be mainly talk based.

Then plan her original story, use sentence starters and story prompts to get her started, a copy of the VCOP pyramid for vocab and connectives. You could do a shout out of synomnyms and antonyms for story. Story map/draw it 1st, then get down to writing it, I would do this as a collaborative piece of work.

Then I would have her try and write the same story but from a different characters prespective.

What is she having trouble with phonically? What are you using (read write inc is very good)

morethanpotatoprints Tue 26-Feb-13 15:07:49


Thank you, she is 9. We do shopping activities but the idea of follow up tasks just hadn't occurred to me. thanks
I have done past SATS style papers with her but she gets fed up and can't concentrate to the end. Also, she asks for her level and if it is not good she loses any confidence she has. I have even been on posts before and advised others about using a lower age range of work book and covering the age with labels as this is what I had to do. But panic myself when dd isn't doing well.
She was always average at school but think she would be below that now.
She is happy enough and if anybody asks how she is doing, I always say oh she's fine. But I'm thinking to myself academically, she's a bit rubbish. Not that it really matters as I would never let dd know I was thinking this.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 26-Feb-13 14:58:24


I worry about her spelling and also the fact that she doesn't write much. I do believe the posts I read here when people say it all comes together, but I'm not sure what to introduce and when.
For example, she is 9. What sort of time should I be suggesting or hinting about grammar, writing to some length. Is there a golden time when if you haven't sussed it yet you have problems? This is what i sort of meant.
The same with the maths really, when do you actually come to the stage where you think she just is never going to get this in a million years.
I think I would feel better if I could see an improvement in the areas where she struggles, but I can't. The improvements she has made in terms of attitude towards reading are brilliant, but she didn't struggle here really.

Thank you Fiona for your response, maybe I worry too much grin

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