Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm No Good At Math

My second grade son David has started the dreaded multiplication tables (do they still call them that even?) and is having quite a hard time. He really excels in other subjects, plays at least 15 songs on piano and is at a 5th grade spelling level but when it comes to math is just struggling completely and is already at his young second grade career point of giving up. We are talking about SECOND GRADE. He can't give up on me yet!

He is given a time limit at school of 5 minutes for 25 problems.
This, when we tried practicing at home - because practice makes perfect - he reacted by immediately cracking under the pressure and started crying. I watched him literally crack, he gets a nervous twitch where he sniffs a few times through his nose and then blows from his bottom lip (yes, just as you've just done it) and he grabs his hair out of frustration.
I watch him working out the problems and it seems like instead of trying to figure it out, he just draws a blank. Like any thoughts about numbers escape his head entirely. I only imagine his reaction at school but the results are that he comes home with 5 problems done out of 25 and half of those could be wrong. I have been sending them back with parent signatures for weeks. (all of which have been based on speed)

He has also given himself a stigma and has told me, "I'm just no good at math, mom."

I do not want my son believing that he is no good at things! He has also asked me numerous times if I was doing multiplication in second grade - which of course, I was not! Now I understand that an eight year old has some degree of ADD - I believe everyone does to some degree. Crap, where was I? I feel like I just walked into the room and forgot why!

Now I personally have never been good at math, detested every minute of Geometry sophmore year and was mortified that my teacher (whose name I cannot remember, the chalk that was always on her polyester pants, I remember) was not as happy as I was to have passed with a C-. Loathed every waking moment in Algebra with a teacher who understood it, couldn't explain it, and seemed put off if you didn't get it. I do not look forward to the years of torture these subjects will bring upon him if he sees math like this already!

I do not want math to equal torture in second grade and I am hoping to put a stop to it and at the same time avoid pricey tutor fees. I have started multiplcation stations for lack of a better name, with flashcards taped to his frequently used drawers on his dresser and his closet door. I plan to expand this by using them also in the bathroom and other places that he may be often. So far he is keen to this idea so I am running with it! I am also thinking about utilizing his love of music and possibly helping his creativity and auto associations that way. He seems happiest when playing music and I would rather have him associate math with positive thoughts as opposed to fearful ones..


His Love Extended--Julie Gorman said...

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Julie Gorman

Susan said...

Hey Amy,

I have a few suggestions for you, that I hope you will find helpful :)

I don't know if I ever told you this, but I homeschooled Zach from 2nd-4th grade, so I taught him his multiplication tables, short & long division, fractions, decimals & all that jazz.

Boys tend to be kinesthetic learners. Many of them enjoy & respond better to curricula when it's combined with physical activity. (Also, so many children with attention deficits, LD & other issues get pretty stressed with timed tests. It's not at all unusual.) I used a lot of games & math activities that involved things like sports, crafts & board games. You can find some great ideas & materials from homeschooling suppliers, which should be pretty easy to find on the internet.

If you want to know a little bit more, feel free to send me a private email. Otherwise, I know you'll be able to find some great ways to build David's skills & confidence if you just browse around a bit!