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Just doesn't seem to 'get' maths

(12 Posts)
Schmedz Sat 07-Jun-14 10:36:46

My lovely Year 7 DD has come home this week with her end of year exam results. Whilst achieving an average of 90% for English, music, geography and languages and around 70% for history/RS/science, she performed dismally in her maths paper (well under 50%) despite some intense revision where she appeared to be able to do most of the problem types included in the paper. Clearly the concepts aren't 'sticking' securely, but it am at a loss to know how to help her, or why there is such a huge disparity in her ability in everything else and maths.
Any tips from people who've managed to help their own DC with similar issues would be greatly appreciated!

tiggytape Sat 07-Jun-14 13:45:15

Are they set for maths - could it be, if she is in a higher set, they simply gave her a paper that was beyond what she is comfortable with? If so the exam results may mean she can move to a set which moves at a better pace for her? Sometimes they can get by in class because there is reassurance of being able to check but in the exam, working alone, it is much harder.

The other thing with maths is that it gets to a stage where, even if a child knows the concepts, they cannot score highly in exams unless they recognise which concepts are being tested. The questions can be quite detailed and wordy so, whilst DD might know the maths needed, if she doesn't understand that it is a ratio question in the first place, she won't be on the right track to solve it. That can take practice and confidence to overcome rather than just doing or learning extra maths.

TeenAndTween Sat 07-Jun-14 13:46:33

Can you ask to see her maths paper?

DD1 also doesn't really 'get' maths, but she is doing OK in it (now year 10) because I help her revise before each test / exam. She forgets stuff in between, and we usually have to go back to primary level maths (percentages, adding fractions etc) each time.

With DD, I have to show her all the things she might do wrong, or that might be unexpected. If she has seen them recently, then she can avoid them.

She also has things she generally messes up, like reading from graphs, and also some things like 8x8 being apparently 16 rather than 64.

So in your DD's maths paper look to see any trends
- errors in basic maths, silly mistakes, or not understanding topic, or being thrown by complications, or is it wording of questions
- then go from there.

Is she set for maths? It could be she is just in too high a set and the pace has been a bit much this year. How was she at primary?

happygardening Sat 07-Jun-14 13:51:54

My bright DS1 doesn't get math, he was able to do problem type questions endlessly and correctly at home on a sort of I don't know why it's done like this but I just have to accept it is ethos. But as soon as the familiar format of the questions changed he was scuppered. This obviously meant concepts weren't "sticking". He had a tutor from yr 2 to yr 11 and concepts never stuck. In the end he passed the foundation level math GCSE good enough for me.
I suspect without the tutors he would never have passed so I would start off by investing in one if you can. Once you start to get behind or start thinking you're not good at math you've had it.

lljkk Sat 07-Jun-14 13:54:45

The marking is very prescriptive & it might be useful to see the papers to see if she has a consistent pattern of mistakes (something she can learn to not to with better exams technique).

HmmAnOxfordComma Sat 07-Jun-14 17:13:03

Do you know for sure that that is a 'bad' score? They might just have set a hard paper...

Eg. Last yr ds got 95% in maths but was 12th in the year group and got 67% or something in geography which was 5th in the year! Until you know how the others did, you don't know how difficult the paper was (some depts will use a ks3 level paper and some a GCSE one)...

Schmedz Sat 07-Jun-14 18:49:20

Have been over the paper with her and there are very few 'silly errors' and a lot of basic concepts she just doesn't seem to understand how to apply. Top mark in the exam was 100% and the median was 77%.
It is a selective school, but maths is clearly not her strong point. I think only 2 children in the entire year got a lower mark ( one of whom is a close friend of hers who did absolutely no revision whatsoever!)
Hoping the school decides to start setting in Y 8 so she can get a little more attention in class. It will probably also help her if she has one teacher for the year rather than the 3 different staff who have taught her at various points during this year.
Still, if there are any tips or websites people can recommend to help reinforce those basic concepts, I know it would be something she would be willing to try! She already has a regular tutor with whom she seems able to understand the concepts and answer questions independently and successfully during sessions (after support to understand.) I have also observed this with her during revision sessions - it just all seems to go to pot in an exam situation.

Clobbered Sat 07-Jun-14 18:55:33

What do the school say? Have you had a discussion with her maths teacher? Seems as though you are in the dark about what their plans are.
Has she been assessed for dyscalculia? Might be worth thinking about if she is fine in all other areas but has a blind spot with maths?

HmmAnOxfordComma Sat 07-Jun-14 19:17:15

Ok, so it is a weak are for her.

Does the school have a subscription to MyMaths or anything similar?

Hopefully they will set next year so she can be in an appropriate set with solid teaching. Probably a much smaller class, too, if it's a lower set.

I'm sure she'll do better next year. No setting in year 7 probably means they've been working to the pace of the highest ability children, which is not ideal.

CampingClaire Sat 07-Jun-14 19:23:16

Our maths teacher told us to look at Kahn maths, have a website but also on youtube. he prescribed it more to help me than my daughter I think (I'm a maths imbecile and she is already outwith my help area at 13!!) It seems to show the workings in various ways - which may be helpful.

Schmedz Sat 07-Jun-14 21:08:25

There is a day coming up soon when she and I can talk with the teachers about targets for y8 so will ask about plans for maths (and any access to MyMaths) then. She was levelled at 5C at the end of primary school so I realise the standard of the maths paper this year must be pretty high (as she is nowhere near the most academic at her school!) but it all covers material they have done in class.
Perhaps the issue is as tiggytape said - an inability to recognise what sort of problem it is. I noticed in the questions where each part of the problem was set out as a separate point, she got everything right, but in questions where there were a number of steps implied in a wordy question, she didn't seem to know where to start...
Perhaps an EdPsych investigation is needed...will wait to see what maths teacher says.
Thanks everyone for your helpful comments and ideas.

Schmedz Sat 07-Jun-14 22:36:52

PS CampingClaire the Kahn maths website looks brilliant - obviously from the US so some of the terminology is a bit different but the range of material and how it shows the working etc.. Is great.
Fab tip, thank you��

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