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  1. #1
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    Default what do you think of this reposne from teachers?

    Hi

    Both my DD's attend the local SS. Both have been having difficulty with mathematics for close on 2 years. My eldest is in year 4 and the youngest in year 2. While they struggle with maths they do pretty well in most other areas. They are both very strong in English both getting A's on their last report cards and eldest is extended in English and science.

    For ages I couldn't understanding why they were doing so poorly in maths (ie getting D's). Whenever I have approached the teachers both have responded by saying "maths just isn't their thing" or "don't worry they write great stories". One teacher went further one day and said "don't worry she can always just do basic maths in high school." I was pretty annoyed with this comment. My DD is only 9 and I assumed that it was the teacher's job to help them improve not just write them off as it seems to me. On the odd occasion they have given me a bit more feedback by pointing to specific areas of concern that I should work on with them (hence it becomes my job not theirs) but when I have attempted to find out what they are doing to assist them in the class room the answer is "I'll keep an eye on her" whatever that means.

    It has become clear to me that they view me as a troublesome parent for asking for help for my kids so I stay away from the class room and this makes me feel isolated from my own children's education. I have tutored them myself, taken them to an ed. psychologist to make sure they had no learning disabilities and am now taking them to Kumon as I realized that both girl's basic maths skills were never consolidated or mastered, hence their confusion. Kumon is great and I have seen them make tremendous strides. Eldest got a B and a C for maths this year ( finally no D's) which is wonderful and I think vindicates my view that the basics where never there prior to Kumon.

    I blame this on the schools philosophical approach. They seem to stress a students strenths and ignore their weaknesses; they teach maths with the spiral approach and no mastery jumping moving so rapidly between areas that kids could never grasp anything in my eyes ie introduction to fractions one day and then measurement the next and no revisting fractions until many weeks or months later. Also parents where told at the beginning of the year that we must teach our kids their times tables - made me wonder what the heck will happen to those poor kids whose parents wont bother or who don't have the time; and so called peer assisted learning. This translates as the teacher giving no explicit instruction on the white board ie examples and how to tackle the problem simply hands out work sheets. Then they are expected to ask 3 other students for help before they ask the teacher. This is a rule and is for the entire class time not just for small blocks.

    Does anyone else think that the comments about maths not being their strengths is inappropriate and unhelpful. After all I am aware of this fact hence the reason I am standing in the class room asking them for feedback of any kind...What I would like to know is if any progress has been made and if not what is going on to assist them. Is this unreasonable?

  2. #2
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    Which state are you in? I didn't think any used the abc system

  3. #3
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    I know the territory uses it!

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    I'm in Qld. they use it after grade 3. Before grade 3 it's developing, Sound, high and very high.

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    A big problem is that the teachers themselves are not necessarily allowed to give straightforward feedback. When report writing my school has a policy of "2 positives for every negative" and even the "negative" has to be written in such a way that it would not offend or damage the child's self esteem. Even face to face we have to be very careful how things are phrased.

    There's also the expectation for children to keep progressing through school, regardless of their ability to master the skills and knowledge of the previous grade level. With tighter budgeting restrictions there is now even less extra assistance available for students who may be struggling.

    I don't necessarily agree with that particular teacher's methods described in your post, but it is very difficult making a judgement on their comments without knowing the whole situation.

    I do however want to thank you for being a proactive parent and taking the steps you have to supplement your children's education! You may feel that the teacher/school is not doing enough, but I can't tell you how often we experience it in reverse. It makes such a difference to a child throughout their schooling if their parents are involved and make it a priority.

    Perhaps the only thing I could really suggest is to talk to the teacher about what strategies are working well for the kids when they do Kumon, so that they may incorporate those in the classroom. Teachers are trained to use different methods for different students, but you know your children better than anyone, so if you know something that works well for them I would hope the teacher would be happy to take that on board.

  6. #6
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    The problem is really more with the system than with the school. One hour of maths is allocated per day, anything extra is cream. Within that hour per day, teachers are expected to cover the areas of number, space, measurement and chance and data. And then within those categories, sub-categories eg Number you have sequencing, operations, order of operations, skip counting, number identification etc. I could go on.

    I agree that the school seems to have given you the brush off, so well done you for taking matters into your own hands by attending Kumon (I assume this is an out of school tutoring service?) But you also have to think- roughly 23 students in the classroom, that's about 4 minutes per student per day for direct math tutoring. And then you have to add in explicit teach time, lesson introduction, summation etc and it almost leaves students in the negative!

    I actually think we need to go back to grass roots too, and lobby for more explicit math time in classrooms. Literacy gets 10 hours a week, math only 5- why, when such a large part of our lives is based around maths? You only need to look around your kitchen to see how important it is. Anyway, I digress.

    Re the comments on the reports, I think it's wrong. Provided it is worded correctly and in an easy to read manner, I think a teacher should be able to write what is needed on the report, regardless if it will hurt the feelings of a student- chance are they know which subjects they struggle with anyway. I'm very thankful I work in a school that doesn't place such restrictions.

  7. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mod-Nomsie For This Useful Post:

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    My Ds1 struggled with maths, I arranged some private tutoring to catch him up and help him, I had to do the same with my Ds2 writing, spelling and reading.

    I think as a parent all you can do is try to fill any gaps privately, I think school is set up for the average student generally, if you have a child performing better or worse than average you have to be prepared to go the extra mile yourself, as you have done OP.

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    My DD struggled with maths this year (she is in year 3). She was given extra homework by the teacher (she didn't have to do it) and we put a lot of extra hours in with her at home. She just seemed to have missed some of the basic concepts and therefore didn't have a clue when things were built on.

    I was very proud of her as half way through the year she was sitting on a D in her end of year report she has got a C....might not seem that great to some but she put in the hard work and saw she could do it!

    I don't know if the comments were helpful or not. I am aware that for my older DD math is not her strength and she needs to work extra hard at it. Where as my younger DD maths/logic are her strength and she needs to work harder at literacy, writing etc. I guess if you are aware that a certain area is harder for your child then you can address it.

    I was told way back at the beginning of Term 2 that my older DD was having issues. Maybe ask for more frequent updates even if by email.

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    I used to tutor maths privately, and for primary school kids especially time at home reciting times table and doing basic 'mental maths' problems is really beneficial. Lots of people read to their kids daily, practice spelling and writing etc, and do very little maths.

    I would utilise the summer to do some home tutoring yourself, continue kumon if it runs over summer, buy some maths problem books and get them doing work from home. Hopefully some catch up over summer plus a better teacher next year will make a big difference.

    I agree the teacher's comments aren't very helpful, but you're not going to change the teacher's attitude very easily, better to take matters into your own hands and work with your kids. Goodluck.

  12. #10
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    Thank you all for your responses. I am really quite surprised that teacher's are instructed to not say negative things about their students. - how else can they or their parents get a good understanding of what is really going on? No wonder I feel like I've been hitting my head against a brick wall...

    I understand what Nomsie is saying Re: lack of time with maths and the amount of kids they need to help. However I guess one of the beefs I have with the current education system is the way it trains teachers which in the end just makes their jobs harder and leaves many children left behind. I strongly support much more explicit instruction instead of facilitation. If I can explain pretty quickly and easily to my kids how to complete a maths sum then I'm sure that this is possible in school if teachers would go back to more direct whole class instruction. It is far more efficient and egalitarian in my view.

    The current way of "teaching" ie inquiry/discovery is clearly not working when you look at Aust.literacy and numeracy standards against other countries. While inquiry/discovery is important so to are the building blocks that lay the foundation for more complex learning such as addition tables yet they are never learnt. It seems to me that the emphasis on discovery learning has taken over to such a degree over the last 30 odd years that we have forgotten that learning the basics is equally important and without it you can not have more complex learning going on.

    I thank you for giving me some kudos for tackling this issue and seeing the education of my children as really important. I really don't think that children should be pidgeon-holed by teahcers such as good at maths, not good at maths - this often becomes a self-fufiling prophecy as many studies have shown. I know that both my kids are totally capable of doing well in maths given the right tools via the right instruction. And that's what makes me hoping mad. Why is so much left up to the parents now? I hate having to cajole my kids every night into more maths homework on top of their usual homework. This is stuff that should be done at school. Learning your times tables as a group chant each morning probably takes up 5 mins of class time - and that is class time so well spent in my view - otherwise you're left with about half the class unable to go on to do division, fractions etc. I feel fortunate that I can JUST afford to send my 2 to Kumon but what of all those other kids? That is what really bothers me.

    Anyway as you say I have no choice but to carry on and teach my kids maths through mastery and hope that some change will come that will help those others who struggle each and every day with all their school work.

    Thanks again


 

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