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checkerjane checkerjane is offline
 
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My son broke my heart
Old 01-03-2020, 11:02 PM
  #1

He's in third grade and struggles in math, so he goes to Title 1 and has a tutor. Today he told me he's stupid and that's why he has to have extra help with math.

I obviously told him he's not stupid, that I had to have a math tutor in college, his Nana had to have extra help in math, he has a lot of friends who go to Title 1 with him, and one of his friends is tutored by the same person who tutors him.

I asked him if another kid said something to him about going to Title 1, and he said no. IDK where he got the notion that stupid kids need help, but it made me feel like a crappy mom thinking he obviously got that idea somewhere and felt that way about himself. Parenting is hard.


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He's not stupid!
Old 01-03-2020, 11:40 PM
  #2

I agree. Parenting is hard. Continue to help and encourage him. As he grows in math, he will realize he is not stupid. You might try creating a bar graph listing skills he will be working on so that he can track his progress. On the bad days, show him that bar graph and remind him those are all of the things he learned since being tutored. Sad fact-- some of those children not receiving help will need help somewhere during their math careers, but they might not be able to get that math help.

I struggled to pass the math for my teaching license, but I worked at it and passed. I am proud that I actually learned the math that I struggled with so much. It has changed my thoughts about me and what I can achieve. It has changed my attitude towards teaching math. Most all students can learn math if they just have the right experiences to do so.
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Good response
Old 01-03-2020, 11:45 PM
  #3

Try not to feel bad. Parenting is hard. Seeing kids feel bad about themselves is hard.
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Old 01-04-2020, 04:00 AM
  #4

Where did he get the idea he is stupid? Well, he is that age where he starts putting things together (not always correctly). In our society bright and intelligent people don't need help. Those who are not bright (or stupid) need help or can't do things. It is a pervasive belief in the society even if we are trying to get people to stop saying the word stupid. That just masks and hides what most people think.

Obviously, needing a tutor doesn't mean someone is stupid, but barring a terrible educational environment, it does mean they don't learn well on their own in that particular subject and need more help.

This is a natural process. He is starting to realize that he doesn't measure up to others in the area of math. It is hard for people to process the idea that they just aren't as good at something as others. It is easier to accept you aren't great at something that not everyone does, but when it is something that everyone is expected to do and do well, it stings.

I always explained that everyone has something they can improve on, but some don't find that until much later. Often for those it is harder because they don't learn how to overcome. This is his chance to learn how to address challenging things where those who have everything seem to come naturally will hit a huge wall some day. Many will shut down or fail miserably because they never had the chance to learn the skills he will be learning by working on improving something that is more difficult for him.

Parenting is hard, but there is nothing uncommon about what he said or how he feels.
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math
Old 01-04-2020, 04:21 AM
  #5

What areas in math are giving him the most trouble?

We might be able to give you some tips and tricks he hasn't been taught yet.

I know some programs prefer to avoid "tricks" but if they make math fun especially for struggling students I don't give a hoot what the program experts recommend.


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Old 01-04-2020, 05:21 AM
  #6

If your son struggles in math, I would explain to him that everyone struggles with something. Everyone! Show him all of the things he is good at. What are his strengths? Help him to understand that math is just a small part of one area of his life. When you read together it might help to choose some biographies of people who had struggles and became very successful, like Thomas Edison who was thrown out of school at age 12 because he was terrible at math. There are lots of stories of people who struggled and then became very successful.
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I agree with
Old 01-04-2020, 07:23 AM
  #7

the PP. I really struggled with math. Years later I found many concepts were easier for me. When I became a teacher I learned about developmental stages and brain growth and assumed my brain simply wasn't ready for some of the math I was having difficulty with. Encourage his strengths. Is he involved with any hobbies or sports he can succeed in?
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Old 01-04-2020, 07:54 AM
  #8

My grandson sometimes expresses that he wishes he could be like this kid or that kid in his class who is smart in every subject in school and doesn't have to try hard. I always tell him that I hope it's not as easy for them as he thinks it is because the most important thing a person can learn in school is how to persist even when it's not easy. People who have learned persistence are usually successful in life but people who have not often give up when they encounter something difficult.

When I was in high school I tutored one of my classmates to help him keep his grades high enough to play sports. He really had to work at it, especially in English. He was a solid athlete but not really one of the "stars." It was important to him, though. Nobody would have voted him "most likely to succeed" but he had two important things for success: persistence and emotional intelligence. Today he owns an outfitters/guide service in the Rocky Mountains. He earns a boatload of money doing something he loves to do. He didn't come from money and he didn't marry money so it must have taken some persistence to become a business owner. I call that success.

I know at least a dozen real-life stories like this as well as several stories of high school valedictorians who crashed and burned as soon as they hit their first set-back in life. So I always tell my GS that if he learns to keep trying when it's hard and if he learns to be genuinely kind and encouraging toward other people, he will do well at whatever he chooses to do when he grows up.
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Productive struggle
Old 01-04-2020, 09:06 AM
  #9

A friend who teaches physics uses the term productive struggle when talking with students who are discouraged because the work doesn't come easily.

Your DS and ALL of us need to learn that as long as we keep trying and keep learning, all is well. Some may get there sooner, but whatever.

It might be helpful for him to see you working hard to learn something new and asking for help with it. A new language. A piece of music. Baking pies. Understanding blood tests.
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:57 AM
  #10

I'm so sorry he feels this way. Google "famous people who had a hard time in school". There's lots of stories which he may be able to identify with.


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I am sorry he feels this way about himself
Old 01-04-2020, 10:08 AM
  #11

and that it hurt you. My son is grown now but we had similar situation.

Remember that math is all around you and start sharing that fact with your son. You don't need to say we are going to do more math at home. Just say let's have some fun and he will learn some math along the way.

Teach him to cook. Start easy and graduate to more challenging recipes and processes. Cut a recipe in half. Double a recipe and freeze half. Explain elapsed time with how long the food takes to cook. Recipes and cooking also increase reading skills and teach you to read and follow directions well.

Play board games. Many math opportunities here.

keep stats on favorite sports team and players.

Read aloud some picture books with math content. There are a ton of these today.

Talk about milage while in the car. Determine your gas milage together.

Have him help with grocery shopping and comparing prices.

Time his teeth brush to make sure he brushes for two minutes. This will begin to give him a concept of how long a minute lasts.

Get a stop watch and time him running and doing other tasks. See if he can beat his last time.

Go bowling. Teach him to keep score on paper.

Give him cash to spend. Count the change and verify that it is correct.

Ask him to tell you the time.

Predict how long it will take to accomplish household chores.

Discuss the weather and the temperature and how fast the wind is blowing and how many hours of light vs dark. Go outside and feel what different temps feel like.

Give him a budget for his birthday. Let him determine how to spend on party supplies, cake, drink......Maybe he gets to keep the money he saves by choosing red napkins over napkins that say "Happy Birthday".

Have him map the daily milage and cost on a vacation road trip.

You get the idea. Math is all around us. We use it every day. If you start embracing the the use of math with him he will become a math master.

Good luck! You've got this!
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Old 01-04-2020, 11:00 AM
  #12

You have gotten some excellent advice relating to encouragement. I just want you to know that as the mom of a child with a serious mental illness who has struggled with things like uncontrollable mania and depression and has beat herself up over things so much, including at 20 sometimes thinking she has ruined her entire life, I get the parenting is hard comment and the heartbreak. Seeing your child in emotional pain that you can do nothing about is the worst pain there is. I am praying for him and for your peace.

(((HUGS))) momma!

Nancy
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Old 01-04-2020, 11:39 AM
  #13

1956, I absolutely LOVE how you brought math into reality, into every day life! I think we learn best at any age when it is relevant and meaningful. Kudos!

This is why I cook with my Kinder students every week. They are learning basic fractions without really realizing it.
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Old 01-04-2020, 01:34 PM
  #14

Thank you all so much for the kind replies and advice. I greatly appreciate them all.

RetiredKat - There's really not any one area that he struggles with. Money word problems were awful, as were two step word problems. When we worked on them at home, and I know his tutor did as well, we underlined ONLY the important things. He seems to do better with more concrete concepts - like properties of 3-D shapes came a little easier, straightforward addition and subtraction, even with regrouping. The do multiplication timed tests, are just, ugh. He gets stressed out about the time, so even knowing the facts doesn't help him. As for the word problems, he reads at a 4th grade level, so I know that's not it.

overthemoon and Shelby3 - He played football this last season and got pretty good. It was his first year for tackle. He was elected VP for our 4H chapter, and we were all very proud of him for that. He has a lot of friends and is a likable kid.

1956BD - Those ideas are great!

Being in sped and seeing assignments from different grade levels, there is a big gap between what they're expected to do in 2nd grade and what's expected in 3rd grade. I think that's what happens when everyone creates their own curriculum.
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Old 01-04-2020, 01:51 PM
  #15

That is sad that he labeled himself as such. You received good advice about helping him build his confidence in math!

"Smart"

I really don't like that word!

Seems like a child considering themselves a "good thinker" will carry them farther in life then only considering themselves "smart "or "not smart."

I know a lot of people who consider themselves "smart", but they lack common sense in the area of daily "thinking!"
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