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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The answer to the misery of math

Today I'm going to take you back to that puzzle I'm working on with figuring out my kiddos and how to best meet their needs. I was recently given another piece of the puzzle to tackle and that piece happens to involve math. You either love math or hate math, in my opinion.

Since the beginning of the school year, Brayden has been in tears over math.  It is the main reason he states for "hating" school.  Yet, none of us could figure out why because he can rattle off math problems in his head. He scores high on his quarterly test for math.  He never had a problem with it until the double digits with borrowing reared their ugly heads.

Both of my kids fell apart with this little twist in their schooling so I ran to my expert, their occupational therapist (OT).  For Teagan, the answer was so incredibly simple.  She has a severe bilateral coordination deficit. She has trouble crossing the midline of her paper. She is a child that writes up the side of the paper because her brain doesn't tell her to go to the next line.  So our OT did a double digit problem with her by highlighting one column so she could see the separation and placing an "X" so that even the single digits were double.  I was shocked.  This simple change made everything click for Teagan and that kid can knock out her math like a whiz.

Brayden's another story.  When you do double digit math, you are no longer just counting, a basic skill learned early on.  There is a process or praxis in solving this type of math.  As his OT explained it, this process starts with an Ideation (picture), then there is the Motor component (plan and organize) followed by the Execution.  So Ideation-Motor-Execution.  Brayden has no problem picturing things but when it comes to planning and organizing, he is at a deficit.  He has difficulty planning what to do and how to do it.  So for him, he can't figure out which side to start with. Then he can't figure out when to borrow.  If you tell him this planning part, he has no problem doing the actual math.

Dys-praxia, basically difficulty planning what to do and how to do it is essentially what frustrates Brayden with school.  His two biggest struggles are math and writing.  Writing requires the same process.  You have a picture in your mind of what you want to write but then you have to plan and organize it before you can execute it.  He can verbally tell you an answer but he struggles at putting it in writing.

So how do you fix all this?  Well, that is the million dollar question.  How do we get him the help he needs to tackle these two areas of school?  Basically  we are back at the first step of more evaluating by the school in hopes of getting more help...ughh!

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