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Looking for ideas for mental maths practice.

(11 Posts)
trailingspouse Fri 10-Jun-11 07:15:00


My ds is 8, at international school (American curriculum), and we just got his report saying his maths is below the average for his age, and he needs to do lots of practice over the summer to be ready for the next grade.

I was aware he was struggling (recently started a different thread about our homework nightmares!), but he's only been at this school for one term so I hadn't really discussed it with his teacher beyond her mentioning that he needs a lot of support.

The report suggested that there might be gaps in his maths due to having been at so many different schools, but I don't really agree with this. I think he has genuine difficulty with mental maths, and it's not suddenly going to improve by staying in one place.

I think his teacher must have mentioned something to him about practising over the summer, because he came out of school today saying he didn't want to do maths over the summer, he just wanted a holiday. I see his point, but I don't want him to struggle even more next year.

It's a NIGHTMARE getting his homework done, he has such a negative attitude towards it. Trying to sit him down to practise addition and subtraction over the summer is not going to be fun. I'm thinking that my only chance of success would be to make the activities totally incidental and natural, so that he doesn't feel like I'm making him work. I had some ideas, e.g. adding up money, dividing up pizzas etc, but would really appreciate any more ideas.

I don't want to completely turn him off learning, because he's actually a bright and inquisitive boy. The learning issues he has are quite specific - difficulty with spelling (although not too bad and getting better), mental maths, poor listening and difficulty focusing (although if you give him instructions for a complicated lego model he will sit for hours until it's completed).

Would love to hear from anyone who has been in a similar position too. Thanks.

noblegiraffe Fri 10-Jun-11 07:18:19

What sort of mental maths? If it is simple times tables, basic adding and subtracting that he needs practice with, if he has a Nintendo DS, get him the Brain Training game which has a mental maths section - you complete 30 questions and it times you, you aim to improve your time each day. Kids at school love doing it because as it's on a games console, they don't see it as proper work.

I'm a maths teacher and my times improved!

trailingspouse Fri 10-Jun-11 07:21:48

Yes, exactly, basic times tables, and mental addition and subtraction. He does have a DS - I can imagin him loving that at school, at home not so sure! He wants to play super mario and all that, I think I would still have to "force" him to play brain trainer - worth a try though, thanks.

IndigoBell Fri 10-Jun-11 09:20:19

I drill my DD myself, because then I can adjust the questions so that she always get's almost all of them right, and we can stop when she gets tired etc.

I do it is using the 'one behind' approach (think of flashcards).

Start off with easy ones that you know he knows.

Then introduce one hard one.

If he doesn't get it quickly just tell him the answer.

Then ask him an easy one.

Then ask him the hard one again. ( Ie if it was a flashcard you would have put it one behind......)

If he get's it right, then ask it again 3 or 4 behind.

If he get's it wrong keep asking it every second question.

And make all the other questions easy which he'll get right.

Hopefully in this way you'll be able to teach him 1 or 2 new facts each day of the holidays.......

LIZS Fri 10-Jun-11 09:31:26

He sounds similar to our ds (now 13) who has a working memory issue associated with dypsraxia. This affects his ability and speed to process information, apritlcualy verbal information, so mental maths, spelling and languages. He too went to an IS until 7 which didn't really do the rote learning fo times tables, number bonds, spelling pattern which might have benefitted him. It was all sorting counters into groups and hands on. There are games on the internet such as bbc and Woodlands primary websites which may help him. Maths Training and Junior Brain Training are both good on ds. Have you considered having your ds assessed for a specific learning difficulty ?

trailingspouse Fri 10-Jun-11 12:37:21

IndigoBell I think that could work really well - thanks for that. We do a variation on that sometimes with the whole family - if we have a tube of Pringles or packet of sweets to share, I make them anwer questions to get one each time! They love it!

LIZS that does sounds similar. He definitely has memory and processing issues, although reading is fine now. Maths is much easier for him with a visual component, without it he struggles so much. He's nowhere near knowing times table - he could probably count in 2s, 5s and 10s but definitely no others. He's been at a variety of schools with different learning styles. He enjoyed the hands-on approach of the IB system the most.

He was tested in his last school and everything came out within the normal range, however this doesn't appear to be the case from what they are saying now. My DH was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, however both he and I are not sure that diagnosis was correct - he does have the same processing and memory issues as ds though. He's better at helping him than I am because he understands how his mind works, however it's me who is around during the day and at homework time. DH feels strongly against any kind of diagnosis - he says it was nothing but a stigma for him. Also you do have to be careful with international schools as they can simply refuse to take your child if they feel they cannot cater for them.

bruffin Fri 10-Jun-11 12:46:24

For times tables and quick addition/subtraction have you tried

IndigoBell Fri 10-Jun-11 12:53:12

The thing about a diagnosis of dyslexia is that it won't help your child learn their times tables.

Working memory and processing speed issues are really hard to fix. School can be as supportive as they like, but they can't fix those problems.

I've had many, many threads ranting about this, so don't want to start it here. But if you want to fix the underlying problems PM me for some ideas....

trailingspouse Fri 10-Jun-11 13:39:26

You mean ranting as in disagreements?

DH never learnt his times tables. All he has done is find strategies to compensate for the things he finds hard.

So do some children get a diagnosis of "processing disorder"? A bit out of touch as we have been out of UK for a while.

I would be very interested to hear ideas for how to work on this. Not sure I know how to PM on here - will check how my account is set up. Thanks.

Thanks bruffin for that link - will go and have a look now.

LIZS Fri 10-Jun-11 17:46:01

It isn't about labels but getting positive help. ds still doesn't have a formal diagnosis as such but OT and Ed Psych concur. I agree some IS can be funny about SEN but ds had really good weekly support from an OT on site while it was far harder to even see one occasionally in UK. If he doesn't get support now the risk is he drifts further away from achieving what his peers can and , even worse, his own potential. Sadly ignoring the issue won't help it go away sad

mrz Fri 10-Jun-11 20:06:10

It shouldn't take a label to get positive help

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