I just witnessed this fact the other day. I teach in a bilingual second grade classroom in Thailand, and I was talking to the mother of one of my best English speakers. However, her daughter was under-performing in math.
In her case, I did not suspect any disability. The problem was, she seemed to disengage every time we began math class. I had not told her mother this yet.
It was my first chance to meet her mother and wanted to talk about the good things first. To my surprise, the child's mother actually brought the issue up first.
She was asking me about how I would be teaching the children and then she looked at me and said, “My daughter came home a few weeks ago and told me her Thai teacher said she was not good at math.”
I was stunned. I told this wonderful mother that her daughter was in second grade and if she was not good at something today, she could be tomorrow. The mother smiled and agreed.
Then I began thinking. How could I reengage this young girl in math? If she went on thinking she was not good at math, she might never learn to enjoy math or have the opportunity to become good at math.
I waited a few days and then went up to her and whispered, “You know, I've been watching you. I think you're really good at math. I bet every time you work hard at math, teachers tell you you're really good, right?”
She assured me nobody had ever told her she was good at math. I insisted that she was. She went and told all her friends that she was good at math. You want to know the surprise?
She's been good at math ever since. What is my point in telling you this story? Perhaps your child has a disability. If so, it is truly natural and expected that your child probably does not enjoy the subject matter in the area of the disability.
It's normal to feel frustrated when you can't get your child to review one more set of math fact flashcards. It's also normal for your child to feel the same panicky frustration over failing one more time. So let's backtrack. You have to break the pattern. Even if you feel you cannot sit down at the homework table one more time with your child, it can all change.
First, let's point out all the areas in math (even if you have to search long and hard) where your child really is good. Tell them. It'll make a difference. We all naturally like doing the things we feel we are good at. It's just more fun to be good at something.
Second, it may be time to put away the flashcards, math worksheets, and other forms of “testing” their memory and skills. I am not telling you to forget helping them or to stop caring. I'm suggesting that the current strategies are no longer working and may cause further anxiety. We want to free the child from this anxiety so they can begin enjoying math again.
Third, work with the child on the foundational skills required for math. These foundational skills are not all number-related in the traditional sense. It may surprise you to learn that many foundational skills are not number-related, but the mathematical skills required include a sense of left and right directionality, holding images in your mind, and other visual-mental skills.
All about good parenting
Thankfully, these skills can be taught and learned, and there is no better interventionist for these skills than a caring parent. Don't buy into believing the failing test scores indicate the potential of your child. Sadly the school system is set up to favor the middle eighty percent of students in all subject matter.
If your child has fallen behind, it can be difficult for your child to receive the help he/she needs at school. Moreover, the help received may be little different than more flashcards, worksheets, and novel ways of learning math facts. If you suspect a disability, be proactive and determine that you can do more for your child. You know your child better than any teacher, and you know what your child is capable of. Be the one person to believe in your child, and do not give up.
Become an expert on the best interventions available. This is where the Learning Success System can truly help you. Order the system and learn how you can teach your child the pre-foundational skills to be successful. A teacher can be a wonderful advocate for your child, but there is no one like you to know exactly what your child needs and to give the time to see your child succeed.
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