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Ability to learn vs Ability to be taught using current methods - discuss?

(93 Posts)
lougle Wed 12-Feb-14 11:10:29

DD2's teacher said to me yesterday that DD2 'can't count money'. I acknowledged this, mentioned 'abstract concept', etc.

Today, I had this conversation:
'By the way, DD2 really isn't secure in her number bonds to ten, or counting in tens to 100. She might appear to be, because she can chant them fluently in and out of order, but she can't use them to answer questions. When asked what 20+10 was, she said '35', etc.'
Teacher: I know.
Me: 'Great. I thought you would know, but felt I should let you know that I know, and that it concerns me.'
Teacher: 'I asked her to explain how she got to her answer the other day and it was....pheww....couldn't understand her at all.'
Me: 'Yes, she isn't even grasping the concepts. I'm very worried. Year 3 is going to be a disaster for her....'
Teacher: 'I know, me too.'
Teacher: 'Oh well there will be a group of children with her who have a similar ability. [my emphasis]

Now, the issue I have is that I don't believe that DD2 is of low ability. At all. I believe that standard teaching methods are unsuitable for her and she needs explicit, direct teaching of each concept and explicit, direct teaching of how each concept links to the next.

So it's no good teaching her number bonds. She needs to be taught that this helps us add two numbers which total 10.

Then, she needs to be taught that we can use the number bonds to make sums easier.

Then, she needs to be taught explicitly that 2p is the same as 2 x 1p. Then, that 5p is the same as 5 x 1p, etc.

They don't seem to understand that DD2 is not going to learn by osmosis.

I've been warning her year 1 teacher of this since this time last year, and her current teacher since September.

I don't know how to start to fix this, because so far she's not even on an IEP and they shuffle if I mention SEN/SN.

I know that a girl in Y6 has really struggled and the SENCO hasn't even been involved, so I'm streets ahead just by having SENCO on the radar sad

PolterGoose Wed 12-Feb-14 11:39:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ouryve Wed 12-Feb-14 11:47:06

it sounds partly like she has difficulty in thinking in the abstract. I suspect if the term "number bonds" hadn't been used, she would have twigged what the point of them is.

How much work have they done with the two concepts side by side (ie number bonds to 10 and numbers that add up to 10)? She probably needs to see the ideas side by side a lot in order to make that sideways step.

bialystockandbloom Wed 12-Feb-14 11:49:39

Lougle, is it an option to get a private (thorough) EP assessment?

NewBlueCoat Wed 12-Feb-14 11:58:36

oh lougle. I know exactly how you feel. this is exactly my dd2's problem too (in fact, can I steal your explanation? it is so much clearer than anythign I have managed to articulate!)

I have a meeting with dd2's school after half term to discuss. and to break the news that we are having MS come down to assess (they will be hmm confused, I think).

I have no idea how to get the school to improve it's teaching methods for dd2, though. its back to the old 'if a child hasn't learned, then you haven't taught' scenario, isn't it? dd2 misses ut ont he concepts entirely. and is going to sink without trace in year 3 if we don't get this sorted out.

bialystockandbloom Wed 12-Feb-14 12:30:11

The problem is of course that if school (in both your cases) are refusing to admit there is anything 'wrong' (yuk but ykwim) with your dds, they won't do anything to differentiate teaching method. And of course without any diagnosis, it's so much easier for them to stick to this lazy approach. And without their support, getting a diagnosis is sooo much harder. Vicious circle.

(Though even with a diagnosis, it doesn't always stop laziness of approach. Eg a dx of ASD might just make them think "ah, asd, I know we'll use eg visual aids <insert stock-support-aid-even-if-inappropriate here>" but that's another issue.)

That's why I suggested an indie EP might be useful? Assessment will of course cover IQ + learning style regardless of diagnosis.

bochead Wed 12-Feb-14 12:30:32

If a child can't learn, it's because the teaching method isn't working for them. DS has deffo suffered from this type of thing in the past, so many lights have been switched on re various topics since we've been home edding for the sake of a simple, clear explicit step by step explanation. School left him "stuck" at the same level forever so he gradually fell further and further behind.

Numicon, cuisinaire rods, lego, coins, kitchen equipment, a metre long metal ruler - we use LOTS of visual aids to help explain maths concepts for DS. There are lots of montessori maths aids that can be really helpful, but I think a lot of schools like the very expensive numicon aids.

I also spend a silly amount of time explaining maths vocabulary as a subject in it's own right to DS. For fun, just write down how many words you can think of the main arithmetic functions - add, subtract, multiply, divide. DS is still learning that there is a massive range of words all meaning to do one of these four things.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 12-Feb-14 12:30:52

DS learns faster than everyone I know, which is a good thing, because unlike everyone I know, he has to be taught every single thing.

He needs 5x the rate of teaching if he is going to remain static with his peers. That won't happen in a mainstream school. It won't happen in a special school either.

I'm sorry. I don't have an answer sad

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 12-Feb-14 12:32:37

'I know that a girl in Y6 has really struggled and the SENCO hasn't even been involved, so I'm streets ahead just by having SENCO on the radar sad'

Lougle I know you have a strong belief in fairness but this child has nowt to do with yours. He support or lack of does not mean you should be grateful for what you manage to get. Her parent is her advocate and you are the advocate for your child. If you can help the school help your child this other one may benefit, or at least, children coming up the school behind yours.

bialystockandbloom Wed 12-Feb-14 12:40:57

boc x-posts with you. When I said visual aids I didn't mean the kind you gave as examples - I was thinking more back to when ds started school and before they'd even met him they were talking about using things like now-and-next boards or pictures of the children in front of him as being autistic of course meant he wasn't able to grasp the verbal meaning of "first we'll do reading, then go outside and play" hmm

Very good point about the explaining maths vocab - it took ds's exceptional and enlightened Y1 teacher to recognise that ds (despite being top in maths) was struggling with the vocabulary around simple equations which if they'd been presented in number format would've rattled through them in no time.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 12-Feb-14 12:47:43

I spent such a long time fighting against visual aids because they were always used as a substitute for teaching, instead of a support.

I found by refusing them people were forced to think, actually think about what they were trying to achieve. Otherwise visuals because the lamented solution, when they should only be a tool.

It's like saying computers help literacy or playtime helps social skills. Both are tools that might help the teacher teach the skills, but ultimately what the child needs is proper targeted teaching.

bochead Wed 12-Feb-14 12:49:59

In storage I have some powerpoint slides on a stick I created to explain the basic maths vocab most kids learn by osmosis, but that mine didn't.

I'll dig em out and put up a link to them when we've moved as it just occurred to me they might be useful for dyslexics as well as those with language difficulties like DS.

For instructional commands I think you just have to make up the visual aids as you go along, but that a lot of children have difficulty understanding what they are being asked to do and teachers aren't trained to explain it to them explicitly.

lougle Wed 12-Feb-14 12:57:31

Polter that's a fantastic idea and what I'd be advising others to do...I think I'm chicken because it will put me firmly in the 'my DD has SEN' box with the school and so far nobody will (officially) agree with me.

A private EP assessment is way out of the question right now. I feel terrible when so many here have taken on second mortgages/sold houses to fund such things, but we don't have a house to remortgage/sell. We simply don't have the money right now.

Once she knows something, she knows it. It's the getting her to know it that is the issue.

Star I was using the Y6 child as a comparator in the process, rather than feeling that DD2 should follow suit - I'm not letting her get to Y6 without intervention.

I can't wait to see her end of KS1 results. I bet they're 'better' than the teacher is verbally telling me. I have little faith in the integrity of them.

What's the point in trying to teach her about money if they know that she can't reliably add up past 10??

Yesterday she said '20 add 20 is 30, 30 add 30 is 40, 40 add 40 is 50, 50 add 50 is 60.....' then finally '90 add 90 is....19??' then she started the whole thing again until she got to 100. She was pleased with herself sad

Ineedmorepatience Wed 12-Feb-14 13:03:29

Another vote for an Indie EP assessment here. Dd3 only had hers in November but it has made so many things clearer to me.

Its the difference between what they are capable of and what their actual functional skills are.

Dd3's verbal comprehension was on the 86th centile and her written expression on the third!!

So now we have it on paper that she has an issue with getting stuff down on paper it was similar with reading speed and numerical operations too.

I went to a talk given by the HT of an Indie school for dyslexia the other day and he was saying how important it is to close the gap between ability and functional skills and it was exactly what I had been thinking but couldnt put it into words.

Dd3 's basic skills are very poor she is still struggling massively with place value and yet school have taught her how to fill in sats papers!!

You are doing a great job with your Dd2 lougle she is lucky to have someone so on the ball for her mum. smile

Ineedmorepatience Wed 12-Feb-14 13:05:35

Sorry cross posted.

I understand about not being able to afford an assessment. I used Dd3's first DLA payment to pay for hers but as I said she had to wait until she was 11 sad

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 12-Feb-14 13:08:51

DS2 has no social desire to please and huge problems following instructions, concentrating etc as a consequence of ASD.

The school use a visual system to remind him to look, listen and be still hmm. Yeah that will work confused. I imagine they will next try to repeat the same thing through semaphore or the medium of dance. Imagine if a partially hearing child was reminded to listen carefully. confused

If the message doesn't get through it is repeated ad infinitum. Provision is no better than just reminding the child to just do it or using different mediums to deliver the same message. But the message relies on adding implicit meaning. What does 'listen' mean? To DS it does not mean looking at the speaker, being quiet, remaining in his seat or in any way acknowledging that the CT is speaking but he can repeat verbatim what was said when he wasn't listening. He won't actually do it through grin

ouryve Wed 12-Feb-14 13:27:52

I think you're describing a universal problem with a lot of "provision", Keep. A lot of it has the intention of trying to get the child to fit in with what's on offer, rather than tailoring what's on offer to fit in with the child. For a child who hasn't the foggiest why they need to be sat in a chair for uncomfortable portions of the day, trying to comply with that (or trying to escape from it, in a lot of cases) is going to use all their energy and not leave much for any other learning.

For a child that needs to be on the move, the impetus to sit down needs to be for a short, highly motivating activity. In DS2's case, that's sitting doing some word matching tasks on the computer. "kinaesthetic" learners are far from a new concept in education and may learn far better, standing at a whiteboard, or using number or letter magnets to avoid having to write and think about a concept, at the same time (and recording evidence of this work is so easy now we have iPads and the like).

And there's probably a lot of children who would benefit from more hands on activity to facilitate their learning.

bialystockandbloom Wed 12-Feb-14 13:30:38

God, keepon that is just so pertinent! Even the asd 'experts' (eg the one at my school angry) still persists in thinking a child with asd doesn't do xyz just because they don't know what is expected of them. The concept of motivation, and lack of, doesn't cross their minds.

I imagine they will next try to repeat the same thing through semaphore or the medium of dance.

Please, you must suggest this at your next IEP meeting grin <evil>

zzzzz Wed 12-Feb-14 13:39:18

DS learns faster than everyone I know, which is a good thing, because unlike everyone I know, he has to be taught every single thing.

star that is exactly ds1. The sheer volume of work to be covered (not just academic) is terrifying.

lougle regardless what they put in place you must teach her yourself. It's not going to happen in an extra hour here or there.

For very literal thinkers who need teeny step progression, Primary Maths app on iPad is very good. Ds learnt how to read graphs in a sitting.

There are some early peaceful maths apps based on the montessori stuff that help firm up ideas more cheaply than getting the kit ( and the link with music helpd ds)

Montessorium and Rantek

Would your old nursery have a teacher that might be coerced into running a maths centred club with their kit?

MariaNotChristmas Wed 12-Feb-14 14:21:24

Have you seen mathletics? It presents the same problems in different ways, and they're scored objectively.

Might demonstrate the lack of progress more cheaply than an EP.

MariaNotChristmas Wed 12-Feb-14 14:24:33


MariaNotChristmas Wed 12-Feb-14 14:30:25

DS got the link between number bonds and real life eventually, perhaps when they had started adding up imaginary money in school sums.

Previously he had two parallel systems. Memorised sums: these are the phrases that they want me to parrot in school. Actual maths: ie adding up using money. Real coins. To buy real stuff in a real shop. Or real smarties that my sister might have stolen, so i'd better count them.

Explanation made no difference. Nothing else worked either. One day he had a eureka moment and realised it was the same thing.

MariaNotChristmas Wed 12-Feb-14 14:31:09

Lego is much cheaper than numicon, and it works for times tables as well

bochead Wed 12-Feb-14 14:37:39

star - visual aids have to be pertinent to the specific child, not just dusted off and pulled out of the cupboard same as for the last however many kids with a generic diagnosis.

How to demotivate my DS? Show him anything that even hints of being a flashcard on any topic including his latest obsession. Yet schools persisted in using the darn things beyond all reasonable comprehension, given his rocking, singing and general complete lack of attention or interest anytime anyone brings out a pack.

When motivated however DS is like a dog with a bone, it doesn't matter how difficult he finds the topic, he resents having to stop even to eat or use the loo.

MariaNotChristmas Wed 12-Feb-14 14:40:44

dc with ASD aren't unlike adults at work then

'So, here's the poorly designed sales figures powerpoint I used for the last presentation...'

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