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    #244805 - 02/13/19 02:59 AM Tips for mathy child
    Isabel Online   content
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/28/18
    Posts: 24
    Hi, I would like to ask for your advice regarding my 6 year old son, who has been identified as gifted and is specially strong in mathematics.

    Right now he is attending a school which is not ideal, but probably the best we can find around here. They don't have fancy premises or a lot of resources, but the teacher-child ratio is really good (2 teachers for 14 children). They have an open approach to learning, lots of time for free play and many books, Legos and table games.

    My son seems to be doing fine there (although he often requests to be homeschooled) and I think they will generally be able to meet his needs. However, I am not so sure about maths.

    Maths is the area where my boy shines and I would say the one domain where his giftedness becomes obvious. His favourite question has been "how many" since he was two.

    Over the years, we have done a lot of oral and mental maths, as this never failed to entertain him. He has been adding and substracting two and three digit numbers in his head since he was 4, as well as skip counting, counting backwards, decomposing numbers, etc. He always comes up with strange mathematical games, like adding the days of the month, or finding out how many minutes he slept tonight.

    Last month I thought that it was time for him to learn in a more systematic way, so I bought an online subscription to Beast Academy, just to try. We began at the third level, as levels 1 and 2 are not available yet, but so far he has been able to do all the activities and he seems to be enjoying himself very much.

    So, yesterday we had a meeting with my son's teacher which has left me feeling uneasy and insecure. I brought up the subject of his maths abilities and told her that he has been asking to work on multiplication and fractions.

    She says that she is aware that he is ahead of the group and she is trying to give him more advanced materials (addition up to 100 instead of addition up to 20), but that he still needs to work on the basics, that he needs to work with manipulative materials and that he needs to understand very well tens and ones. Also, that he needs to learn the mathematical symbols and that he still reverses some letters and numbers and that he is too young to be doing maths on a computer.

    I told her that my son has always refused to work with manipulative materials (I have already tried many times) because he usually understands the concepts very easily and works much faster just with his mind, and that while I agreed that he needs to work on his graphomotor skills, I thought that it was cruel to make him slow down his mind just because his hands can't work at the same pace.

    So, it seems that we have agreed to disagree and that he will have to keep working on addition and substraction for a while. And I have been left feeling as a pushy mother who is confusing her child introducing too many concepts too early. So, apart from venting, I would like to know what have been your experiences with mathematically oriented children and what have you done to meet their needs.

    Please forgive any mistakes, as I am not a native English speaker.

    Thank you for your help!

    #244806 - 02/13/19 03:18 AM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    KJP Offline

    Registered: 02/29/12
    Posts: 756
    Hi Isabel,

    Iíve used used Dreambox and Beast Academy for similar reasons with my children. I would just ignore the teacherís comments. Beast Academy is a well regarded program. It will not harm your childís development.

    At teacher conferences this year one teacher mentioned how wonderful it was that my son could solve problems in so many different ways. I think his work with Beast Academy has helped develop this skill.

    It sounds like youíre doing a great job meeting his needs. Keep up the great parenting and donít let the teacherís comments cause you self doubt.

    #244807 - 02/13/19 04:08 AM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    Platypus101 Offline

    Registered: 10/01/14
    Posts: 675
    Loc: Canada
    I second KJP. You are only pushy if you're pushing. If you are responding to his needs, that's good parenting. As long as it's child-led, it's pretty hard to be "too much too early".

    Many teachers have pretty rigid ideas of "developmentally ready", that worship the calendar and ignore the child. If he's enjoying Beast Academy (a pretty awesome program) and wants more, then he's ready for more; don't worry about "confusing" your child with above-age math. If it's too much for him, he will stop enjoying it and wanting it.

    If you need some reassurance for yourself that allowing him to accelerate *at his own chosen pace* is good, not bad for him, the research is pretty clear one this one, and summarized here:

    Some schools are more flexible, but many of us live in areas that abhor acceleration. Keep working on your school, gently but with confidence, but also recognize that if they won't meet his needs, you may have to do so at home. I don't know how long your on-line subscription lasts, but perhaps if you switched to the paper version your teacher might have a less visceral reaction? A workbook might feel more familiar to her, and Beast Academy, full of cartoon monsters, might seem less threatening than the online drilling machine she may be envisioning.

    #244808 - 02/13/19 04:36 AM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    ruazkaz Offline

    Registered: 08/23/12
    Posts: 128
    Our son was in a similar situation and we pushed the school to give him more challenge and they did not. We kept giving him things to do at home and at the same time continued to push the school. Finally, his fourth grade teacher helped us push and he began to do independent study during math.

    He is now in 10th grade and attends a local college for Linear Algebra and we are hopeful he will get accepted to a very rigorous school for 11/12 grade.

    Every kid is different but for us the best things were the local math circle, math summer camps and math competitions. Good luck!

    #244876 - 02/23/19 01:31 PM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    Aufilia Offline

    Registered: 02/25/14
    Posts: 336
    Loc: Washington
    Oh my goodness, have we BTDT before! We've heard it all. "She needs to really know the basics" and "we need to fill the gaps" and "she's only bored because you taught her too much at home" -- just imagine you can see my eyes rolling and rolling and rolling. Beast Academy and Dreambox are both fine and, in fact, the best of all the online edutainemnt things we've tried. There's no reason they wouldn't be appropriate. Your teacher probably doesn't even know what Beast Acadmey IS.

    You're not being pushy so much as that your teacher has no appropriate expereince to understand your child or your child's needs. Your child is statistically unusual and she hasn't had enough kids like him to "get it". Just keep doing what you're doing and keep asking the school to accomodate. Maybe this one won't, but maybe the next one will. The best luck we've ever had with accomodation is when the teacher is on board, but IME it's almost impossible to change the mind of anyone who isn't willing to think outside the box and be flexible.

    #244877 - 02/24/19 08:19 AM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    Isabel Online   content
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/28/18
    Posts: 24
    Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I feel much better after reading them. Raising our child is becoming quite an isolating experience, and your reassurance really helps.

    Aufilia, I think you are right when you say that the teacher doesn't get him. She thinks that he just "sees" the results of mathematical operations in his head, but he doesn't understand the process, when in fact he knows perfectly well what he is doing, but lacks the verbal skills to explain it.

    It is also likely that the teacher doesn't particularly like our child, as she seems to be more into artistically creative children, and our son has always hated drawing and painting and he isn't even particularly interested in books.

    Just the other day he went on a school trip to learn about a local writer, and when he returned I asked him what he had learnt. His answer was:

    "Well, she is now 182. Yesterday she was 181, but she has now turned 182 because her birthday is on February 22. Well, not her birthday anymore, because she is now dead, but her ghost's birthday. So this means that she was born later in the year than my friend T., who was born in January, but at the same time she is older because she was born years earlier".

    Of course, not a mention about any of her writings.

    So, as much as I would have liked to share my passion for books with him, I just had to laugh and admit that this is just the way he is and all I can do is nurture his interests and hope for the best. I will follow your advice and keep working with him at home, and let's see if at some point we figure out what to do with school.

    Edited by Isabel (02/24/19 10:05 AM)

    #244878 - 02/24/19 08:38 AM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5223
    Originally Posted By: Isabel
    His answer was:

    "Well, she is now 182. Yesterday she was 181, but she has now turned 182 because his birthday is on February 22. Well, not her birthday anymore, because she is now dead, but his ghost's birthday. So this means that she was born later in the year that my friend T., who was born in January, but at the same time she is older because she was born years earlier".
    WOW! Great analysis for a 6-year-old. Lots of compare/contrast, and meaningful connection to his observations about his friend's age and birth date placement in the year.
    It may possible, going forward, to leverage his natural inclination to compare/contrast and apply that skill to reading.
    He may be more fond of reading for facts (gathering information), and may prefer non-fiction. For example, in reading science and/or history, he may find ample references to numbers, dates, measurements, etc to analyze, compare/contrast, and make connections to his own observations and experiences. Continuing to engage him in conversation about his thoughts may be key. In this way, his interest/affinity for numbers may overlap into reading and ease a transition to becoming an avid reader.

    #244879 - 02/24/19 02:56 PM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    AUA Offline
    New Member

    Registered: 02/10/19
    Posts: 1
    My six year old loves these Math Quest books by David Glover.

    #244883 - 02/26/19 04:39 AM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    Saritz Offline

    Registered: 09/06/12
    Posts: 80
    Hi Isabel,

    I have an 11 year old that sounds a lot like your son. He used to count until we got to preschool and then tell me the minutes (by dividing by 60). The preschool was about 15 minutes away. smile

    We've had teachers who understood and teachers who didn't over the years. He was in a GT magnet for elementary, but many of the teachers just wanted to follow the calendar.

    He never liked Dreambox, because you have to go through so many "boring" things to get to the good stuff. He loved Prodigymath for a while, and we've used IXL from time to time. IXL is a bit drier, but you can select what you want to work on without working through other things; ie, you can skip to multiplication, area of a circle, etc.

    The other thing that has made school tolerable is music. If that's an option for you find a way to get him into lessons, piano, violin, trumpet, choir, whatever.

    You have my deepest sympathy on the manipulatives, and the "but I'm not sure he understands counting theory". Ugh.

    One more thing. Try to find a sympathetic admistrator who can help guide him to the right teachers. We were lucky in this to have a coordinator who understood (and believed in) innate math abilities and made sure from 2nd grade on that he had teachers who were flexible and who were willing to let him work at his on pace, at least part of the time.

    Good luck!

    #244884 - 02/26/19 09:20 AM Re: Tips for mathy child [Re: Isabel]
    mecreature Offline

    Registered: 03/14/11
    Posts: 358
    We were in much the same situation .
    The school promised and it seemed to always fall apart. In 4th we started on AoPS Pre-Algebra and also hired a nice High School senior boy as a tutor 2 times a week. It was a great fit. We also started math competitions and summer math camps.
    I strongly recommend these for strong math kids.

    In 5th grade we switch to a private school where they started middle school and you tested into your math path for the next 4 years.

    He is now in 10th grade taking AP calc bc, we will have to find a local college or online course for the next 2 years.

    11 and 12 grade could prove to be interesting years.
    He still does quite a few math competitions during the year and summer.

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