Rachel on Strong Learners

We have recently been hit with lots of snow. I suppose, being winter time, I should expect it. But as I sit and watch the snow fall down (quite quickly, may I add) I am amazed when I consider that no two snowflakes are the same. Here I am – watching thousands upon thousands of snowflakes fall from the sky in my backyard alone – and realize that each one of those flakes are unique.

Children are the same way. I look at my own four children and wonder how they can have the same upbringing, the same parents, and still end up being so different! Because they have different interests, we have had many types of extracurricular activities: soccer, baseball, archery, horseback riding, gymnastics, guitar, trumpet, piano and ballet. Each one has their own unique style and interests. So, to help them build their own talents, I have had to provide each child with their own set of activities.

The same thing goes with curriculum. I have had to adjust and modify and search for the curriculum that serves each child according to their needs. But, just as Debbie has mentioned in the previous blog, no curriculum is absolutely perfect. Adjustments need to be made to help each child learn at their own unique pace.

Over the years, I have spoken to many moms and dads who wonder if RightStart Math will work for the strong or gifted learner. Of course, RightStart Math will work very well for these students, but just as with anything else, adjustments might need to be made. Here are some of the thoughts that I share with these parents.

Teach to the speed of your student’s ability to learn. This may mean that you do more than one lesson a day. If your child is soaking up the information, then by all means, continue in the lessons.

Many times over the years, I have taught two or more lessons in one sitting because my child is enjoying the material and learning it quickly. This works particularly well when the lessons cover a similar math concept.

As a side note, if I know that my child completely understands the material being taught, I will skip the assessment lessons, the periodic Review and Games in Levels C, D, E, and F, to keep them from getting bored. Instead, I will push on to the lessons following the assessment. I will caution you to only do that if you know, for sure, your child knows the material well.

Dig deeper into the material by taking your child on an academic field trip. Is your child hungry for more information and asking questions? Look up a relevant video on YouTube. Recently, I spoke with a parent of a student working through Level G. The student was wanting more information about the Koch Snowflake introduced in her lesson. I directed her to an online video by a Purdue Professor sharing more in-depth information on how the Koch Snowflake works and why.

Is your child working on time problems? Have them do some research on time zones. Does your child enjoy history? Go to the library and have them read about historical mathematicians such as Pythagoras, Archimedes, Euclid, or Ptolemy.

Build your child’s problem-solving skills by adding math puzzles. In the Math Card Games manual, there are several games that are designed to do just that. Have your child try playing Magic Squares Memory (A60), Addition Puzzle I (A61) or Addition Puzzle II (A62). Activities such as these strengthen the student’s problem solving skills and logic.

Take your child into uncharted territory. If your child starts asking about multiplication (or another math concept) and has not yet worked on it in the lessons, use the Math Card Games manual and find a game that will introduce or teach the math concept. Introducing a math concept via a card game is not only fun, but provides a great opportunity to get a jump start on learn something new.

Have your child create her own math card game or puzzle. If your child is creative, encourage them to use their creativity to design a new game or puzzle based on what the child is currently learning in her math lessons. Then have your entire family play that game or puzzle later in the week. In fact, why not submit it to RightStart Math? We just might share it with other RightStart Math families!

Get ideas from other parents with strong learners. On our Pinterest page, Debbie has compiled some great enrichment suggestions, including book recommendations as well as STEM projects. You may also want to check out our Facebook page and see what other families are doing.

Keep your child challenged. As a strong learner, sometimes new material is not introduced quickly enough for the student. If you feel that the lessons are moving too slow for your student, zip through those lessons, until your child finds some new material to learn. Then you can start working through those lessons. This will keep your child learning new material and not spending time reviewing math concepts they already know.

Being a homeschool mom, I am constantly working to strengthen each child’s weakness and providing opportunities to build on each child’s strengths. If you have a strong math student, I hope these suggestions will inspire you to challenge your kids and help them fan the flame for learning math!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for these thoughts! I’m working with my daughter on Level B right now; she just turned 5. She discovered the Two 5s and Make a 10 strategies on her own in the middle of Level A. She is able to derive all the basic addition facts and can mentally add two digit numbers with regrouping. I’m struggling, however, to skip through lessons. I worry about skipping over an important concept, but when the lessons are too easy she resists doing the work at all…but then I am left wondering if she knows it as well as I think she does. I’m trying not to push her because she is so young, but I also want to keep developing her skills. Right now we are taking a break from the book (she was not having fun with it…and she is so young) and only playing math games like Go to the Dump (to sums between 11-15) and addition war with three addends. My question is, how much should I worry about missing key concepts if I skip over lessons? When you say “zip through those lessons” do you mean do all parts or can I just pick parts of the lessons to teach or play the games?

    • Rachel Anderson says:

      Hi, Emily.
      Thanks for your post! When children are young, they do have a shorter attention span. Throw in the fact that your daughter is learning so quickly – finding a balance between challenging her and not ‘missing’ something will be a little more trickier, as you well know. When you are ‘skipping through’ your lesson, in each lesson I would recommend only doing one or two equations from each section. If she does well, then move on to the next section. If she seems to not know the answer or is slow to find it (or doesn’t know it at all), then you can work through that section of the lesson.

      As far as determining whether your daughter is retaining the information, I would recommend that you secretly ‘quiz’ her through the day. For example, if your daughter is working on her addition strategies of 9, then periodically throughout the day ask her a quick equation – ‘What is 18 + 9?’. I did this with my kids. We made it a game. My children never knew when I was going to shout out an equation for them to solve. I would do it in unexpected times – like when the kids had just put a forkful of mashed potatoes in their math, while they were in the middle of reading a book, when I was cooking dinner. Sometimes, I would yell upstairs (like they were in trouble) and have them come to the top of the steps and then ask an equation. It usually made them giggle. There was a time when I even put equations with icing on top of their toaster strudel! Keeping math interesting and fun – while checking up on her – is a sure way to keep her from getting bored.

      And of course, keep up with the math card games! That will be very important for your daughter – especially since she is so young. She can continue to grow and learn facts and concepts without formal lessons.

      I am so excited to see your daughter progress over the next couple of years. Be sure to keep her hungry for more and keep us informed on how things are going! We want to support you during the struggles – AND – we also want to celebrate the victories!!!

      If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to repost them here or email us directly at info@rightstartmath.com.

      Rachel

      • Thanks! Wondering if the Activities for the AL Abacus book, clock games, or fraction games books would have anything for her level in those books that I could add? Are those games different from the game book that was included with the manipulative set?

        • Rachel Anderson says:

          The activities and games that are in the AL Abacus book, clock games, fraction games, etc. are all included in the curriculum – either in the Lesson Manuals or in the Math Card Games book. As you already have the curriculum, you should already have all the games for clocks and fractions. You can use the Level B Lesson Manual to help you teach your child to learn how to use the AL Abacus and understand the math concepts taught by using the abacus.

          As always, feel free to post here for further questions or you can email RightStart Math directly at info@rightstartmath.com.

          Have a great day!
          Rachel

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