Q&A #814

Arithmetic struggles

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From: Marielouise (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 22, 1998 at 11:40:34
Subject: Re: Arithmetic struggles

Hi, Tom,

I am going to answer your question as a parent but also as a teacher of upper 
level students. I do not have the experience of early education teaching 
that you need.

The remark: "when he sees a lot of problems all at one it seems to be the 

Suppose you isolate the problems and let him view them one at a time.  
Whenever there is an entire work page of problems, use a smaller piece of 
paper and cut out a rectangular hole to show only one problem. Have your 
son view the problem and copy it down on his paper and then work it out.  
When finished he could move the paper with the hole to the second question,
copy it, work it out and then move on. Perhaps this would reduce his panic. 
 Panic and anxiety go together. Anxiety is often tied into knowledge of
previous poor past performance.  When at home have him do at most three
problems at a time, stop, have you check them and then return to his work. 
Perhaps he will only be able to complete half the work.  If it lowers the
anxiety, you have accomplished something.

Have you considered working with manipulatives with addition? Have some 
household beans that represent ones, tens or hundreds. Explain to him how 1 
navy bean = 10 pinto beans and 1 pinto bean = 10 peas. Then 13 peas when 
written are 1 pinto bean and 3 peas or 13.   

Try to think of multiplication as repetitive addition.  That is,  3 * 4  is  
3 fours  or  4 + 4 + 4. Explore this on a calculator. Then you can see that
3*4 = 4 + 4 + 4. Try to have him not only understand but learn a few (2 or 3)
facts a day.  Let Friday and the weekend be review days.

I hope that I have helped you some.  Hopefully an elementary teacher will add 
something to this.

 -Marielouise, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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