Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer School Update

Last month I was concerned that my son was having trouble with math. He wound up failing the subject in 5th grade, and was sentenced to summer school. Though he was promoted to 6th grade, it was with the caveat that he pass summer school math. We decided to get him a one-one-tutor, rather than place him in a more school-like situation. He goes 3 days a week for an hour at a time. He brings home a ton of home work. At the risk of jinxing things, he is doing GREAT!

Friday evening, I had an opportunity to talk to his tutor. She said that based on the material she received from his teacher, she had very low expectations for him. Then she started working with him. He is not only getting the material, but acing it. Scores between 95 and 100 on his tests. I grade his homework each night with similar results. It is to the point where she is no longer just giving him 5th grade material, she is giving him 6th grade material. The test he took Friday morning was from the 6th grade book and he got a 100!!!!!! HA! I knew he could do it! More importantly, now HE knows he can do it.

While I am estatic with his progress, for me it still begs the question why. Why did he not master this material from September to June, but does in such a condensed program? Was it that his plate was so full that math was the thing he chose to let go? On several occasions, I studied with him, he seemed to get the material, then took the test and either failed or eeked out a high D, low C. It was frustrating for everyone. He became so frustrated that he just shut down, and could no longer let knowledge in. What a difference a month makes!

How will we get through 6th grade? I will be sure to avail him of a tutor at the first sign of distress. I will work harder at keeping my cool, and helping him keep his. I will do all I can to bolster his confidence and motivation. He is a very bright, funny, sensitive kid. Reminds me of the lyrics of P!ink tune: "Don't let me get me." Guess that's what we have to figure out how to do. Oh, and that therapist who suggested that perhaps he has a learning disability that caused him to do poorly in math? Pshaw. I don't freaking THINK so! Damn, vindication feels good.



Blur Ting said...

Oh wow! I am so inspired. My younger son has such big problems with his math, I sent him for private tuition for many years. I am so hopeful that one day everything will suddenly come to him and he'll breeze through the papers.

JYankee said...

That's good news. Things have a way of working themselves out. All due to your undying faith in him.

"Wolfgang" said...

I always had big problems with math in school as well. Its not that I can't do math, I can do some fairly complex computations in my head and have a knack for statistics, especially baseball statistics. What I hated was having to show my work and do it a certain way. I usually lost interest in math classes and find writing endless problems and solutions tedious and boring. I am a more creative type, oriented towards music, history, and literature.

I think keeping his motivation up is key, along with finding a way to make it fun and relevent for him. Also, many teachers look at past standardized test scores and set expectations for their students, or know that since the class is ability-grouped, the students will perform at a certain level, so they set expectations and make assumptions. More often than not, even the brightest, most competent students will live down to a set of negative expectations.

Also, for boys at this grade level, the one-on-one tutoring removes one of the biggest grade lowering phenomena - peer pressure. It is simply not cool to be good at math, since most boys that age don't see it as their strongest subject and associate being good at math with thick glasses and nerdiness and stuff. So, he may be acheiving less than he could in math as a way of fitting in with his classmates.

Anyway, I don't know your individual situation, so I'm just trying to give you some things that might help, some ideas why it might be happening. I've been an educator for 14 years (hope to become a former teacher today actually), so I have a lot of experience and knowledge bouncing around about this stuff and nothing to do with it. I wish you the best with this. I hope he kicks some math butt now!

The World According to Me said...

Hi there

I thought I would come over to your world.

Well done with the tutor idea, and well done to your son for his 100 out of 100. I struggled with maths at school and it's still not my strong point, so I know how much your encouragement must mean to him and how rewarding his results must be for both of you.

PS I'm with you and the aching feet from the 8 random facts! I constantly seem to have feet problems! If fact, I have a little blister on my toe right now...!

seagrape said...

My daughter is not doing so well in math either. She's only seven so it's basic first grade math, she can calculate but does poorly under timed conditions. Congratulations on your son's progress. We still have a month before school starts here in FL, better get started on those math drills!

Epimenides said...

Good for the lad rp! Could it be the his math teachers are boring and unispiring? After all, I hated Chemistry as a student because of my teachers, and ended up studying it at University!

Kate said...

Seagrape and I could be one and the same person. That's exactly where I am with my daughter. I hope that your son sees in this experience is that sometimes, it just takes more than one mode of instruction, or more than one way of explaining a thing, to make a concept clear. Or maybe a full hour three times a week was the right intensity and duration for hiom...and the bummer about tests is that they often don't really measure what the teacher is hoping they will measure. No matter what, though, he's ready to move forward, and that must freel good.

David said...

Those therapists can really screw things up! It's great that he has a positive experience to compare to what the "expert" had to say.

I don't know why the universe works this way but this is the second time this week I've had to say that Don't Let Me Get Me is my favorite Pink song. It's actually just one of my favorite songs in general. :)

rp said...

Ting, I hope your son beats math into submission! Hopefully his tutors have brought him a new slant on the subject then he gets at school

Yankee, thanks! For a moment there, I almost questioned my faith in his ability to get through this. I won't again!!

Wolfgang, maybe peer pressure is part of it. He so wants to fit in with his buddies. But I thought 10-11 year old boys would do better at math and let their reading/language arts subjects suffer. Maybe all he needed was to perform for a single appreciative audience, other than me. Thanks for your good advise.

Hi, World According to Me. Thanks for stopping by! I did well in math until I hit geometry. I am convinced that Geometry is not math. It should be filed under philosophy or something! I struggled mightily, but then on to trig, and I was fine again.

Thanks, Seagrape/ I was told a series of books put out by Spectrum is very helpful. I will get some details and pass them along. Anything done to beat a clock is very stressful. I can make my mind do it, but if my body is involved, forget it. Flunked almost every typing test given either in high school (my mother MADE me take it) or in early job interview situations. My fingers can type just fine, just not to a ticking clock! For me, that was very difficult to overcome, so best of luck!

Thanks, Epi. I agree that perhaps his teacher had some preconceived notions that made it difficult to reach Chris. It was his 7th year in a SMALL school, so they've 'known' him since he was 4.

Kate, it really does feel great. I do a happy dance for him that just makes him giggle. It looks absolutely silly, but I think it really does tickle him, so I do it for every good grade he brings me. Thank GOD there is no video equipment in my house (that he is aware of).

rp said...

Hi, David. Yes, therapists, and their penchant to apply labels, and act as we don't know our own kids. ARGH.

I love P!nk in general. Her Mizundastood album is awesome, and very relatable. I've debated putting it on Christopher's iPod. Hmmm. Gonna give it another listen and think about it some more.

SOUL: said...

i love that song!

also... good job with the kid. i just went through that with my girl. (13). also math. passed the 7th grade, but had to take math in summer school. sailed right through! WTH?? why not during the school year? still no answer to that question... but she swears she will do better in 8th grade, and NEVER go to summer school again.

but thanks for the update... if there is a next time.. we shall seek a tutor !

rp said...

So, Soul, what say you. Put it on an 11 year old boy's iPod? He likes really good music for a kid so young...

Chris' tutor recommended the Spectrum study guides for math and state tests. You can get 'em on the Barnes and Noble Web site. I'm ordering them this week!!! From what I was told, he as a comprehensive battery of tests on 9/28. OY!

The other thing I learned is his tutor is in constant touch with his actual math teacher. This is a really good thing, as it should dispel any preconceived notions from last year, something I was very worried about.

seagrape said...

got the Spectrum books at B&N yesterday. thanks!