I find it highly ironic that I’ve been hired, once again, to tutor a public schooled child. Also ironic is that it is, again, for math. A subject I very much hated as a young child.

This time I am glad that it is for the elementary years and not pre-university level math. Because of this factor and none other, I’ve lowered the rate. I won’t be spending many evenings doing math!

Although I am using this opportunity to re-examine math curriculum. We are using Math-U-See, and it is working great. My kids are doing well and they really like this system. And yet I now question using it for a child (who is a developmentally delayed 13 year old boy) who I will only ‘have’ one day per week. Now, I sent home Calculadder drills and explained to the father that I want him to do one sheet per day for no more than 2 minutes. I suspect that this will be done, as I know the parent well.

I showed the boy the blocks, and almost immediately he ‘took’ to the manipulative. I examined the specialists report.

He has certain math skills. I think the very act of living gives all of us certain math skills. For example, he never gets a question of “less than/greater than” wrong. But as the report said, “explain this by using the ‘dessert’ analogy.” Well, yes, any child is an expert at knowing which bowl of dessert has more!

But the problem lies in that he uses his fingers for addition above +1.

When I looked at the previous tutors work and the folder of items the parents showed me, the previous specialists had the child working ‘all over’ the range of math. Fractions, counting money, telling time, you name it!

I have explained several times to the parents that I’m not going to do that. But I wonder how they will respond when they realize that I am *not going to do that*! What will they think when their 14 year old child takes home worksheets with only simply arithmetic!

Anyways, I am going to purchase a different curriculum. At the least, it will give me another perspective on teaching math. At the most, perhaps it will benefit my children just as much. But like Math-U-See, it handles only one thing at a time, addition, then subtraction, then …

But unlike Math-U-See, the entire K – 8 curriculum costs the same as 1 year of MUS!

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All the best to you as you so this. Hopefully you’ll be able to help this young man understand his math.

My Ds is struggling with Algebra! Is there a program/curriculum that you recommend for that study?

How does your son typically learn? Are his foundations good (division and multiplication) and he struggles with the abstract behind algebra?

Is your son the kind of child that needs to understand what happens when he does the math, or is he the kind that if he can memorize the ‘how’ he’d be fine and just needs to learn that part.

In my opinion, once he gets to that level it becomes a matter of getting the right program for him. I know when I worked with my high school student I spent a lot of time researching different ways to look at the same thing. When I figured out how to explain the why part to my student, she got it and it was no longer a problem.

Here are some of my most favourite on-line sites…

http://www.purplemath.com/modules/index.htm

http://www.algebrahelp.com/lessons/

I used the following two but they weren’t my favourite:

http://www.math.com/homeworkhelp/Algebra.html

http://www.algebra.com/

Thanks! I think Ds is strong in his math facts, he gets bogged down with knowing “how” to do the problems, and is a good thinker so he doesn’t like to show his work. We go over & over & over the need for him to show his work and he still won’t do it. Makes me so mad!

Hi, MissPlacedAlaskan

Although your posts are a little old, I only recently found the blog and your comments.

The learning of “How” to do problems means which exactly? Interpreting the information in word problems in order to solve? Or handling the symbolic steps to find a solution of an unknown number?

Handling the symbolic steps depends on learning and practicing the number properties; this is why students study Introductory Algebra. Interpreting word-described problems requires something more. They are not yet in symbolic form and Reading comprehension and figuring out how to represent the information in order to write equations (or inequalities) needs to be studied, learned, and practiced. Charts, drawings, and labels need to be used so that the symbolic relationships can be found – and THEN the problem can be solved.