What to do about a 4th grader who is "behind" in math
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  1. #1
    Michele Lehane is offline Junior Member
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    Default What to do about a 4th grader who is "behind" in math

    I just started our 4th grade year with my daughter but she is doing the third grade math. The third grade math is "challenging" for her already so I couldn't move her ahead any more. I'm concerned about what it will mean for her to always be a year behind in math. What about when it's time to graduate? What if she needs/wants to go to traditional school again? Etc.....

  2. #2
    Mandy in TN is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele Lehane View Post
    I just started our 4th grade year with my daughter but she is doing the third grade math. The third grade math is "challenging" for her already so I couldn't move her ahead any more. I'm concerned about what it will mean for her to always be a year behind in math. What about when it's time to graduate? What if she needs/wants to go to traditional school again? Etc.....
    At this age I wouldn't worry too much about graduation.

    You are doing the right thing by meeting her where she is and moving her forward from that point. You could go pretty much year round not taking any extended breaks- like 11 weeks in the summer. Also, try doing a little math on the weekend. If she were in a traditional 4th grade classroom, she would likely have a little homework over the weekend so this would be no different. If there is a skill that she already knows (ie shapes), let her test out of that section without completing all the lessons. If there is a skill that she is comfortable with, but only needs a little practice (ie measurement of length), let her do more than one lesson in a day.

    Doing these things she may catch up to whatever you feel is grade level. She may be a late bloomer and surprise you with her math prowess in a few years. However, I must point out that grade level at one school may be ahead of grade level at another school and behind grade level at a third school with all three schools being in the same county!

    Also, even if she stays one year behind, she will still take pre-alg in 8th and still finish plenty of math in high school to be more than ready for college. Even if she struggles in math and doesn't take pre-alg until 9th grade, it isn't the end of the world. She may not get in enough higher math before college testing to receive a stellar math score, but she will still be able to get in Alg1, Alg2, and geometry before college.

    At that point, if she won't be going into a math heavy field, there are a lot of degrees that only require College Alg. She would likely be ready to jump into that course. One semester of math after high school and she will be done. If she is still struggling with the basics, she can always take remedial math in college and then take college algebra. Although I understand your concern and definitely think that you should stay on the ball in your attempt to have her working at proficiency at a level where you feel that she is being mathematically successful, I wanted to assure you that being behind the median/ average national math score or whatever the local school district is doing in 4th grade will not necessarily have any long term impact on her adult life.

    HTH-
    Mandy
    Last edited by Mandy in TN; 07-20-2012 at 08:49 AM.
    ds Doodlebug 11yo
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  3. #3
    kaodjs1 is offline Junior Member Newbie
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    Don't worry. Compared to our experience in public school, Time4Learning is what public schools WISH kids were learning, not what they actually are. For example, 4th grade in public school here spent a lot of time (1/2 the year!) teaching multiplication, but Time4Learning has multiplication and division already by 3rd grade.

    I hope I don't get in trouble with the Time4learning folks for posting this, but a GREAT resource for learning times tables (if your child needs brushing up on them) has been Times Tables the Fun Way by City Creek Press. My 7 year old son is picking up on lots of difficult to remember multiplication problems; I can't believe it! We use that to supplement Time4Learning. Times Tables the Fun Way uses animated stories to help kids memorize the times tables (e.g., He drove a 4x4 to the top of the mountain to hang glide, and he had to be 16 to drive it). There's no way my son is going to remember 7x8=56, but he can remember the story about the seven swimming in the 8 pool.

    Also, never forget that kids can catch up fast. Our daughter went to a private school until 3rd grade, when we realized she couldn't spell "orange," have" or "about" or other simple words half way through 3rd grade. And she didn't know basic math facts either (e.g., 9+5=14). (Since she was doing so well, we never bothered checking on what she was learning until then!) In 4th grade public school, she caught up very fast and was acing everything, with straight As by mid-year, onward. But now we're homeschooling because the authoritarian environment of the public school wasn't worth it.

    You hear all sorts of home school stories where kids wouldn't or couldn't read or do math until really late (years after their peers) and now they're advanced. Being behind now means nothing. Plus, with Time for Learning, YOU control what grade level your child is on; you can re-do lessons all you want; and you never have to tell the public school (should you reenter) what your kid got on the Time4Learning tests.

    Just try and find the most fun ways to break down all big problems into tiny steps, and have your child re-do (with you) everything the didn't do well on during Time4Learning. Re-taking the tests they bombed gives my kids a sense of mastery over what once seemed too hard for them. Frankly, I wish Time4Learning was enough for my kids to be more self-sufficient, but they seem to need a great deal of my time onTime4Learning. I do about 1/3rd of Time4Learning with our now 5th grader and about 3/4 of the lessons with our 7 year old -- but I make them take the tests on their own. And, if they don't score at least 90%, we re-do them (either entirely or just by having them tell me why they missed what they missed and correct it verbally).

    Good luck and hang in there!

  4. #4
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    jpenn is offline Senior Member
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    You might also try Times Attack for a little fun. They have a free version.
    Joyfully,
    Jackie

  5. #5
    Jennifer Jackson is offline Junior Member Newbie
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    We have a 6th grader who has been spiraling down in math in public school. I took the entire summer to re-do 5th grade math with him. I sat with him on almost all of it to diagnose where his deficits lay. I figured out that he had break downs in the addition, subtraction and multiplication of basic numbers. As the public school rushed on past these basics, he lost the ability to keep up. Each year compounded the issue because the foundations weren't there. This is a child who can sit and explain algebraic equations to another child, but still uses touch points on single digit addition problems. Go figure! Well, we found that being very consistent with focused practice every day does pay off. We would usually work in two sessions, for at least 30 minutes (more like an hour) a pop. By re-building the layers that were missing AND doing it daily, he became more proficient. He finished the summer with a high B average. That was much better than the D- at the end of the school year. I see evidence that as we start 6th grade, he is having an easier time of it. The catch up was the hard part. I'm convinced that you can "outgrow" being bad at math.
    Good luck!

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