Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Red's no more tears afterschooling plan

I have had to completely overhaul what I've been doing for afterschooling with Red.  During the summer, we went gangbusters!  We were doing math, spelling, history, science, and reading.  You name it---we did it. Of course, then we had lots of time in the day that needed to be filled so I didn't have to hear her whining, "I'm bored."  When school got back in session, we eased up a bit and mostly did math.  I let things really get loosey goosey in December and didn't require her to do anything.  We continued reading before bed, but that was it other than completing the very little homework she comes home with each day.

Here's where we are today---math is causing her an undue amount of anxiety again.  My little girl with perfectionist tendencies (something I wish she hadn't gotten from me) is crying in school and at home over math.  This is how they teach math in 1st grade at her school.  The first graders all do Everyday Math with the first grade teacher who is not Red's primary teacher.  This is the required school district curriculum.  They get 1-2 worksheets of homework to do at home per week.  The last one I saw involved measuring your bed using the length of your hand.  From what I've seen so far, there are no traditional math problems (i.e. 1+1=2) in Everyday Math.  The other math she does is with her main teacher.  These are math fact sheets that have 50 traditional math problems.  She is currently doing subtraction with single digits or subtracting a single digit from a double digit number (i.e. 9-2=__ or 14-7=___).  She is supposed to complete the same fact sheet everyday from Monday through Thursday during school and then practice at home if needed.  On Friday, she completes that fact sheet under timed conditions.  If she completes the sheet in 10 minutes or less with 2 or less errors out of 50 problems, she gets to move on to the next sheet in the sequence.  She has been on the same fact sheet for two weeks now and has not been allowed to move on because she's making more than two mistakes.  I had her do the fact sheet for me last night at home.  She did it in six minutes with two errors.  Whether or not she's able to complete the fact sheet really isn't the problem.  The issue is that they are expected to complete and pass (passing in this case is 96%!) these sheets with no instruction on how to do the math problems from either teacher.  I understand the need to know your math facts quickly, but when there is no foundation laid by the teachers doing worksheets over and over seems useless.  In the end, it's Red who is paying the price for this method, and the only solution that I can see is for me to address her lack of math instruction at school by using a full math curriculum with her at home.

On a good note, she's doing great in reading (she knew how to read before attending school so I wasn't concerned about that at all), her penmanship has improved dramatically, spelling is going well, and I'm super impressed with the school's science curriculum.  I don't remember doing any science until 4th or 5th grade when I was in school and they're doing it every week at Red's school.  One area I do wish they got more exposure to is history.  

Here is my new plan:
After I give her instruction, I plan to have her complete one exercise from Singapore Math 1A each school day.  Each exercise is 2-4 pages with somewhere between two and eight problems per page.  I'm going to roll with only supplementing math for now.  I'm hoping to add history back in by the end of February, but I want to focus on what is important today.  The most important thing is getting Red confident that she can do math again and dry her tears.  Hopefully this will be the No Kleenex Math Program!


The Reader said...

What an odd way for the school to do math.....Singapore sounds like a perfect supplement for her at this time. We love Singapore at our house.

Hoping the next report is all about smiles and the lack of tissues!

Sock Monkey Mommy said...

No instruction is not a way to learn. And I would be crying too if I was trying to achieve one or two wrong in a timed setting.

Zoe has timed math tests each week too - on subtraction and addition. However, since she always does well I spend most of our "afterschooling" with enrichment (ballet, karate, music, reading, writing). I have been a bit surprised at the paragraphs of Bible memory work expected each week. But Zoe does it, and loves to do it. Thank God she loves to learn.

Of course Zoe's class has 11 kids and a lot of one on one opportunity. Good quality work is enforced. However, her teacher has been VERY helpful with Zoe's people pleasing ways. Zoe is okay now with missing one problem or misspelling a word or two in her writing.

hugs to you!

Jenny said...

That’s a really schizophrenic way to do math instruction. Everyday Math is a Constructivist program, and then the drill and kill worksheets are the opposite. It would be better if the classroom teacher was pairing Everyday math with the math fact practice games from Right Start. Timed tests for first graders is not a good way to teach, IMO.

I think you are wise to use Singapore Afterschool, or perhaps Right Start B or C if you have it.

Another option would be to sign up for Dreambox Math for a month. $15 dollars for a month of math instruction, and no tears whatsoever could be worth it.

Fairy Tale Mama said...

I do have both Rightstart B & C and I'm incorporating the games when I can. Buying B and the games was one of the best purchases I've made.

Jenny said...

I was thinking some more about this and I'm wondering if the classroom teacher who is doing the drill and kill type timed tests with your first grader really understands what Constructivism is about.

The absolute polar opposite of what a Constructivist outcome should be is your daughter crying and not liking math! That makes me angry just thinking about it.

I'm wondering if the classroom teacher might need some more training, perhaps with the district math consultant, if possible. Maybe this is a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.