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maths h/w: big problems with mirrored images & repeated patterns.

(12 Posts)
kissingfrogs Sun 09-Oct-11 22:34:41

Dd1 simply can not do her maths homework.

She has a page of triangles, pentagons etc and must reproduce the image along the fold (dotted line) to make a mirror image. The paper has dots on it (to represent squared paper). Dd1 just can not "get" it despite using a mirror, using folded shapes, tracing. I've tried showing her how to use the dots to plot the shape but she's really confused.

Next page is a row of repeated patterns of shapes, again on dotted paper. She is supposed to continue each pattern. She can't do it. She can't seem to see the pattern or figure out how to use the dots to plot the shapes.

She is so upset that she doesn't understand. I've also tried getting her to do all the above freehand but what she reproduces is so far removed from the original that I'm baffled as to what is going on.

Is this just a bit advanced for her at the moment or some sort of visual processing problem? She's 7.5, in Yr 3, and is bottom of her maths group.

rabbitstew Sun 09-Oct-11 23:32:03

I would keep perservering. It might be the way you are talking about it that is confusing her - eg a reflection in a vertical mirror line could be described as going diagonally up to the left on one side, so diagonally up to the right on the other, or as going up and away from the mirror on one side and therefore up and away from the mirror on the other side (ie two different moves - 1) up and 2) away); diagonal lines can be described as, eg, along one square and up two, drawing a dot and then joining up the dot with where you started, or dividing a rectangle into two triangles, or joining the bottom left corner of one square with the top right corner of the next square up etc, etc. You need to work out the way her brain is interpreting what she sees and what sort of vocabulary to help you describe it suits her best - does she see better one line at a time, or by keeping track of the whole shape so that she doesn't lose sight of where she is supposed to be heading? Or is it that she has difficulty switching her attention from dealing with one line at a time to viewing the shape as a whole and she can only at the moment do one or the other? Does she get confused by references to left and right? Would colouring in the shapes to make them seem more solid help her see the shapes better? Does holding the page, folded at the mirror line, up against your mirror at home help her see it at all? It's just a question of finding a way to help her see what she's supposed to see and whilst you've obviously tried quite a few ways, there's always something silly that you might have overlooked because you don't understand what it is that is making it difficult. Yes, maybe her visual processing is a little bit behind in some ways, but it doesn't mean she can't be helped to understand and catch up. Once you can "see" it, you can "see" it.

rabbitstew Mon 10-Oct-11 07:33:28

ps does she have difficulty with the concepts of up, down, left, right, over, under, above, below etc? Or had difficulty learning to write or read? Or drawing? Or recognising basic shapes? Throwing or catching? Was she late learning to crawl or walk or dress herself? Can she do jigsaw puzzles or does she hate them? If she had a big visual processing problem, you would have noticed it before now in various ways.

kissingfrogs Mon 10-Oct-11 19:40:00

Thanks Rabbit.

Maybe I have been confusing her with too much talk. You're right in that I don't understand what is making it difficult - I can't "see" what she sees so I can't find a way to show her. I can usually empathise with her problem with maths as that was my bugbear when I was at school.

In reply to your p.s, none of those apply. It's me that's got the left/right problem!

I'm a bit concerned about her visual processing as she turned from being quite a good reader in reception to regressing and having problems reading. Appears to be with tracking - changing lines all the time, substituting words, misreading. She had a year of absence epilepsy and medication but that's gone now/off meds. I do wonder if this has somehow affected her more than just by making her fall behind.

<over-anxious mother emoticon>

KatyMac Mon 10-Oct-11 19:45:07

Can you draw some shapes on a separate piece of paper (both shape & reflection, plus shape cut in two)

Then cover half and see if she can anticipate the shape

KatyMac Mon 10-Oct-11 19:45:55

Or use tracing paper that you can see through

umm - how about drawing half a face or a butterfly - take it away from maths

rabbitstew Mon 10-Oct-11 20:36:45

I think KatyMac makes some fantastic suggestions, there. When I was little, I always enjoyed making butterflies by folding a piece of paper in half to make a crease, painting a lot of splodges on one side of the crease in thick paint (mixed with wallpaper paste to make it thicker!) and then folding the other side on top. When you opened it out, it made a lovely, symmetrical butterfly! She could always try that for a fun way of exploring symmetry and reflections. Also, my ds1 did find working out symmetry and reflections easier at first when he was completing a shape he had anticipated - eg had recognised that the shape he was finishing was half a capital A, so he would be finishing off the letter; or the shape was half a beetle or something.

You could always take your dd to an optician and ask about her possible visual tracking issue, as an optician ought to be able to identify a glaring issue. Or find a behavioural optometrist, who would be able to do quite detailed tests on her visual perception and find more subtle issues or simple delays, if it's really beginning to worry you. I don't think occasional accidental skipping of lines when reading is uncommon at that age, though.

kissingfrogs Mon 10-Oct-11 22:44:54

Thanks for the suggestions.

I have done the above sort of things from paint butterflies to tracing and drawing half faces. She can do these. Howver, it still didn't click with the homework so maybe it's a homework anxiety problem (can't see the woods for the trees). She's always keen to do her hw but nervous too as being in yr3 is still quite a "big thing" for her.

Dd1 line skips at least 1-2 times per line which makes reading aloud hard work for her. She's below average now in reading.

Gotta go with my gut feeling: will take her for an eye test which will give me the chance to talk to an optician - it makes sense anyway to at least check if there is an underlying issue that needs exploring.

rabbitstew Tue 11-Oct-11 07:41:06

If you're also interested in behavioural optometry, you could have a look on the website of the British Association of Behavioural Optometrists (

kissingfrogs Tue 11-Oct-11 21:51:14

Thankyou Rabbit - I'll look into that.

Ferguson Wed 12-Oct-11 21:00:15


I didn't have time to join in this 'thread' the other day . . .

I have worked with children for twenty years or so, mostly as Teaching Assistant.

Some children find these concepts difficult to do on paper. Patterns: this is invariably taught by threading large beads on to laces. Or with pegs on a pegboard. Do you have any items that could be arranged in a repeating pattern, or in a symmetrical shape? Lego bricks might do it: try large and small bricks of the same colour; then same size bricks of two different colours; increase to three colours for a more advanced pattern.

kissingfrogs Thu 13-Oct-11 14:29:29

What an excellent idea. I have a big box of coloured counters - I could recreate the patterns with them.

I spoke to DD1s teacher briefly as I handed in her uncompleted homework. She said dd was maybe not mature enough yet and that they would be going back over this subject after christmas. In the meantime I can work with dd at home, starting with the counters.


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