Monday, September 28, 2009

Parent for me, please?

My fifth grader was placed in the lowest math group on Friday. Neither he nor I are very concerned about that. He doesn't care because he's the kind of kid that thinks it's cool if he's in the top group for something but couldn't give a rip if he's in the bottom (which drives me slightly batty). I don't care because I know why he's in the bottom.

He performs solidly on his state testing and all of that, does all of his work and understands the concepts. He just does poorly on his chapter tests because (WITHOUT EXCEPTION) he makes careless mistakes with adding and especially subtracting, and he regularly forgets his multiplication tables.

So....have any of you encountered and solved this problem with your own dear munchkins? I've got a few ideas but I'd love to hear from you guys on stuff that's actually worked before I go trying my experiments. That's mainly because I generally come up with Rube Goldberg-scaled interventions when $.79 mousetraps will usually work.

I'm listening...

16 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I got nothin'.

LisAway said...

Hmmm. I wonder if there is a single other parent out there with this same problem! :)

Um, I'll be back to read other people's ideas. . .

MommyJ said...

I have a third grader who is prone to careless mistakes too. I talked to his teacher about it... he was always speeding through, not paying attention, even skipping problems that would then be marked wrong simply because he was being careless. She said that it's pretty typical with boys, and that normally, by middle school it starts to work itself out. She said that the kids that care about their grades will realize if they care, they are really going to have to care, and then they'll pay better attention. I don't know about that though... not caring seems like a pretty easy option too.

I've talked to my kid about rechecking his work, double checking everything... in sewing we always say, "measure twice, cut once." Maybe for math it could be, solve twice, write once? I don't know. What if he just practiced the simple skills... there are so many websites where kids can play math games that will drill them on basic subtracting and adding, as well as multiplication tables. Maybe there is a pattern to the ones he is messing up, and he just needs to get over a few hang ups. Last year, Jordan's teacher did speed drills... where she would give the kids sheets of one hundred problems of basic addition or subtraction, and multiplication, and have them complete them in five minutes... a lot of them were really simple, and below Jordan's general math ability, but it was good practice.

Good luck with it... I don't have one quite that old yet, so it's hard for me to think ahead to how a fifth grader might work.

Lara said...

My 4th grader tends to do her work this way, but she is starting to care more. She really hates math, although if she put an ounce of effort into it she'd do just fine. She doesn't like it, so she whizzes through the work and that's that. We're working on slowing down.

L.T. Elliot said...

Ditto Kristina. Mine haven't been old enough for this problem yet so this post will be a trove of info for me later!

Becca said...

I wouldn't worry about it, unless there is some set-in-stone policy for the leveled groups. As he shakes off his (whatever it is - carelessness is such a harsh word) he should have the opportunity to move to where he belongs.
Also, I find that math skills are regularly reinforced in the kitchen - especially fractions (at least the simple ones) and that's where we do most of our drilling -when we're cooking.

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

I have 3 kids.. 2 who are gifted according to testing. I know they are smart and can do the work.. but they also have a problem rushing through their work, because they are so BORED. Drills and other mundane activities get them even more bored! Sorry parents who love to give drills and time kids with their math skills. I'm just saying.. I am not going to SHOVE it down their throats.. I guess I need to threaten them with drills if they do not slow down- because I know they do know how to do the work.. Maybe I need someone to parent my kids for me too! HAHA!

Heather of the EO said...

I don't have old enough kiddos to have parenting experience here.

But I do have some personal experience. I did the same thing. And I did it all through high school. Firstly, I had impulse control issues BIG TIME. So that didn't help. I'd let my mind wander and rush on to the next thing without re-checking things. This mostly only happened with math because it was a challenge for my brain, even if I was mostly succeeding at it and appearing to not care. So my defense was to kind of shut down. Maybe that's not what's happening with your guy, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Hopefully it made sense and didn't just muddy the waters...

Tracy said...

That's why I encourage my kids to underachieve. When they do well, it's always a pleasant surprise.

Seriously though, your little guy probably doesn't care because he's not really struggling, in which case I wouldn't think it's a big deal. I think the real problem is the placement in the lowest group, expecially if the teacher agrees that he has a good grasp of the concepts. If the kids in that group are receiving extra help (which I would expect to happen), your son may become extremely bored getting extra help for things he already knows how to do, and that's when the real trouble will start.

When it's important to him, he'll care more about the outcome and do something about it. I've got a boy in grade 5 too with the same sort of no-worries attitude, but I figure that if he's not sweating it, then I shouldn't either.

Jami said...

Careless mistakes happen. Especially if one doesn't care. So perhaps if you sweetened the reward for careful calculations, he'd double-check his answers.

Being in the lowest group generally means easier work and less of it. If one doesn't mind being bored, then there's a lot of reward in just speeding through the lower level work.

Chris said...

Well, I do know one thing that did NOT work for my daughter, telling her about about 100 times that she was careless. Our daughter's 3rd grade teacher must have written that word on at least 100 of her papers, so I stomped, I mean, went into school and asked for a more positive approach as Sarah was starting to lose interest in the school she used to love.

The teacher WOULD NOT stop, but at least she slowed down. It took our NEXT TWO TEACHERS in that school to get Sarah back to the point she was in 2nd grade, happy and loving school again. (Second grade was when she was put in the gifted program and showed such promise.)

Her 4th grade teacher used a different approach, still addressing the problem, but she told her to BE CAREFUL instead of POUNDING her with the careless tirade. It made all the difference.

Just my (lengthy) 2 cents.

Kazzy said...

How about giving him the Chapter Test at home with a small reasonable reward if he is extra careful on some of the basic facts that he often misses on the test at school? I think the tests are usually at the ends of the chapters in the text book.

Good luck...

DeNae said...

I'm with Becca (and I think we're also in the same place in the parenting game!) Don't sweat this. HOWEVER, I do like Kazzy's suggestion that you do the chapter tests at home with a small reward.

I would be a little more - not "concerned" - maybe "aware" of his willingness to be at the bottom, and his attitude that it's cool. It may be nothing, kind of a boy thing, but it's a good thing to know about and monitor in your kid as he enters Middle School.

Jessica G. said...

Melanie, I've missed reading your posts! Back on the internet and with over 800 posts in my reader...

Stephanie Faris said...

I sucked at math when I was a kid...but most of the time I just sucked at school. I had a short attention span and was bored easily. It wasn't that I had any sort of learning deficiency...just that I seem to always need to be entertained or my mind wanders...

Debbie said...

I have struggled with this for years and years with my middle son. Only this year (and he is a high school sophomore) has he suddenly started caring.
Having said that, I would not sit still for my son being placed in a group that is too easy for him. I still kept my son in the top groups. Yes, his grades weren't not stellar all the time. But, he was around other kids that did want to achieve - not a bunch of other kids that didn't care. That attitude is too hard to shake when everyone has it.
Additionally, it sounds like your son is smart and could learn whatever they throw at him. Why settle for less? They need to still teach him at his level.