I have a good friend named Stacy, who has a diabetic child. She wrote a blog entry that I asked if I could share here. She agreed. So, here we go...
When I first had my son, I never knew what challenges awaited him in this big world. It started with having to overcome diabetes. This was a long and constant process. It took us about 3 years, but now we have it down to a science. He knows exactly what he needs to do and how to maintain his health. Once we got a system in place it was rather easy for him.
Now he is in the third grade and we have hit the second biggest challenge / struggle of his life; math class. This is rather ironic because my husband and I both have Master's degree in different forms of engineering. We have mastered very highly levels of math with relative ease. My son Cameron on the other hand, struggled to grasp the concept of multiplication. I had to help him find a way to tackle this. I thought to myself, what could I do? Then it hit me, we already developed a strategy that he has mastered to maintain his health. Why not help him develop a strategy to learn math concepts and skills? So I developed this 3 step method that changed everything.
Step 1: Introduce the Math Skill in Real Life
I will show my son how we use this math skill in real life. I will relate the skill to everyday. For division for example, I would preset this scenario: "You have 25 baseball cards and want to give them equally to your five best friends. How do you do it?" If I said to Cameron, "What is 25 divided by 5?", he would just give me a funny. Using a real world example motivates him to work for it.
Step 2: Work on the Skill
Once he has met the skill, it is time for him to take baby steps on his and work on it. I will usually print off 5 sets of math worksheets on a topic. There are many great places to find these available. On the first worksheet, I let him work completely independently with no outside help at all. If he gets stuck, he gets stuck.
We then go over everything together. I bought a piece of white board and eraser able marker; I show him how I would do the problem on this board. It makes it easy for him to see. How we do the second and third sheet depends on his success of the first page. If he did well, I let him work on those by himself. If he struggled, he will do all problems on the white board. The fourth sheet he does totally independently. We review that sheet and save the last math worksheet to be done a day after we complete this process, as a review.
Step 3: Flashcard Wars
I have my son in a competition against my husband. I write the problems on flashcards. Whoever answers it first, gets a point. Off course my husband takes his time and makes sure to just stay within a point or two of my son. This is honestly the most effective step for my son. He tries so hard. I started offering prizes for the winner. Nothing big, you have to see how hard an eight year old will work for a cookie.
When we complete these steps, he is ready to go! It has been extremely effective for Cameron. He started the school year with a 2 out of 4 as a math skill grade. His last report card just came and he is now on the 4 out of 4 level. I hope it helps you too!