blog-header

Autism, RightStart™, and Testing Scores

My 11 daughter has high functioning autism. We consider her to be a 5th grader, and she just finished up Level D (scoring 100% on the end of the year test!). She had serious problems with math until we found Right Start. She was 8 years old and still could not reliably tell you what 2+3 was. Then once she labored to figure that out, she couldn’t tell you what 3+2 was. It was like that every single time.

A dear friend let us borrow Level B for the summer so we could try it out before putting all the money into it (since she’s my last child, I was hesitant to invest so much money on yet another program that wouldn’t work). As you must have guessed, it was a huge success and I purchased the curriculum eagerly.

I just had my daughter take the ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) a couple of weeks ago for the first time. She has previously been tested by psychiatrists as part of her autism spectrum evaluations, but she’s never done a ‘bubble’ test where she had to read the questions herself and fill in the answers. For a child on the spectrum, that alone can be a challenge. And I have her take the grade-level tests simply so I can compare her to her age/grade peers. I know she will be behind in math because there are some topics she simply hasn’t covered yet, getting such a late start. Yet, she has always managed to test only slightly below grade level, which is amazing to me.

So this time, I was expecting her scores to be lower, because of the nature of the testing and this being something completely new to her. I was quite wrong! She scored in the 69th percentile for Math Concepts & Estimation. This is on the upper end of the Average range, and her grade equivalent was 6.8 (which means that she performed on this 5th grade test the way you would expect a child in the 8th month of 6th grade to perform on this test). For Problem Solving & Data Interpretation, she scored in the 51st percentile which is right in the middle of the Average range. Her grade equivalent was 5.9 which is exactly what she is! Her math computation scores are quite low but those are irrelevant to me because she has slow processing speed and I do not ever pressure her to finish the drill sheets for a fast time – and math computation is not included in the overall scoring anyway.

Breaking it down into the subsets, she scored 100% right on both Measurement and Probability & Statistics questions and also scored very high on the Algebra subset. To me, this shows that Right Start teaches kids how to think mathematically. And that, in my opinion, is the most important thing!

I have rambled on long enough, I think. I just wanted to share that my child with special needs – who didn’t even start using language to communicate until she was 3.5 years old and who didn’t understand anything to do with math until she was 8, just score on grade level and slightly higher as a 5th grader, when she has only finished the 3rd grade RightStart book! Amazing!!

Thank you, RightStart!
Jennifer C.

RightStart™ Mathematics; A Hands-On Geometric Approach

We received this comment from a Geometry Approach curriculum user: “I’m finding myself very frustrated because there are no explanations of how the answers are obtained. Is there no teacher manual in addition to the answer book? The answer book is nice but it doesn’t tell us how you got the answer if we are confused.”

This is a good point. The RightStart™ Mathematics; A Hands-On Geometric Approach level is a different format than the prior RS levels. Geometric Approach is set up more as exploration of math, which, of course, is more like your child’s future learning.

In high school and college, it is expected that the student will “read between the lines” and extract information that’s not quite specifically stated. My high school senior and three college kids get so very frustrated with this, but that’s the way it works!

Real life is this way too. Think of a baby running a fever. There is no manual that specifically states the answer or provides the steps to the cure. Instead, we need to run with trial and error. Sometimes Tylenol brings the fever down. Sometimes a cool bath. Maybe both are needed. Sometimes it’s a trip to the doctor for antibiotics!

So, how do we help you and your child work through these lessons? Well, two things will help.

First, read (or re-read) the “Hints on Tutoring” found in the front of the lesson book and attached below. A critical excerpt from this page reads “If a paragraph is unclear, the student should reread the paragraph, keeping in mind that sometimes more is explained in the following paragraph. No one learns mathematics by reading the text only once.”

I personally find not rereading the lesson is my greatest error when working through the Geometric Approach. My second most common error is reading too quickly, then jumping to conclusions, which mostly are wrong.

Second, ask us a specific question and we will get an answer to you. Have your student send an email to either info@RightStartMath.com or to JoanCotter@RightStartMath.com, put “Math Student” in the subject line, and we’ll get an answer to you as quickly as humanly possible. You may call us at 888-272-3291 and talk through the question with one of our competent people.

Also, have you and your child watched the “How To Teach” recorded webinar? This will give both of you a firmer foundation in which to work through the program.

Remember, if we did have a teacher’s manual, it would be so tempting to following the instructions item by item, which may stifle true learning. So, although I understand and agree with some of the frustration, think of this as a change in your child’s thinking and learning. It’s now time to explore and think through situations, rather than just follow a rigid algorithm.

Finally, remember to email and/or call us. We are here to help you and your child be the best you can be with your mathematics and with your future learning.

 

Aspen and RightStart™ Mathematics Level A Lessons, Installment #3: Teaching Now

As we’ve been going through the RightStart™ Mathematics Level A program, I’m absolutely amazed to see how quickly 5-year-old Aspen is picking it up. She is so excited about math and devours it each time we open up the kit.

Currently the items we’re doing are coinciding well with her kindergarten class. We’ll go through her lessons at home and then a few weeks later, they’ll touch on the same concept and she flies right through it with great success.

Aspen carries around her AL Abacus Junior in her backpack and has been using it in her classroom. She says that the kids in her class love to use it as well! She is also using it in her daycare to “teach” the other kids math. Her daycare provider gets a huge kick out of watching her be the teacher and how excited the other kids are to learn from her.

Aspen’s grasp of math has been such a blessing. Time and time again, I’m wishing I had known about the program when her older brother was going through school….

Trouble with 6 and 9

Jill Velicer’s 5 year old son keeps confusing 6 and 9, so they made some visual art projects for the ‘Yellow is the sun’ rhyme to help him remember.

We think this was a great idea so we thought we would share with all our RightStart™ users.

Thanks Jill!