I know the first instinct is to make your student spend more time with the math books or drill the concepts, hoping that the skills will begin to come. This often leads the struggling student to hate math, and the battles begin. I would like to suggest an alternative.
Don't push your struggling math student to hate math.
If you have been following my blog for very long, you know that I have heartily endorsed a hands-on and living books style of math instruction, and I still do like it for a foundation in math concepts. But what do you do if you have completed Math Their Way, Mathematics, A Way of Thinking and Living Math and your student still is lacking the necessary math skills? If you have been in my shoes then you might have experienced the difficulty of presenting a math book at their level that is obviously for younger students because of the pictures and the subject matter discussed.
What do you do when you feel like your child needs to start over from the beginning?
We faced this problem this year and I am happy to say that I have found the solution. I found The Learn Math Fast System and I was so impressed by what I found on the website that I, uncharacteristically of me, emailed the author and asked if I could have a sample to review. I was sent the whole set of four volumes and a geometry kit. When materials were sent, I was told by the author that the program is designed to be read from page one, which starts with first grade math, all the way through to the end of book four, getting your child caught up to eighth grade math in about a year. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical that my struggling students could catch up that fast.
But we began to get moments in which the math concepts that they had been struggling with for so long became clear for the first time. Quentin had his first "a-ha" moment when we were going over fractions. The program approaches each topic in many different ways so even though in the beginning he had that confused look, his face suddenly cleared and he exclaimed, "Now I understand!" He answered all the remaining questions correctly.
There are no manipulatives, so it is not hands-on. The graphics in the book are fantastic, however, and they are simple and straight-forward, nothing cute or dumbed-down. This gives it a hands-on feel to it, and makes the more simple concepts not seem too babyish. It is written in a tone that is lively and engaging, which helps to take the fear out of math. The program gives lots of mental math tips, practice and timed tests (although we have opted out of the timed tests due to learning disabilities and anxiety.) The math facts are taught using a systematic approach to ensure that all gaps are filled in, giving students a solid foundation and understanding of math, preparing them for high school math. Part of the reason that the system works so fast is that it focuses just on math concepts. For this reason, there are a few topics that you won't find in these books. For example, learning to tell time, Roman numerals, tally marks, and the days of the week/year are not included in the Learn Math Fast System.
It can successfully prepare your child for high school math in about a year.
This approach has worked well with both my struggling 4th grader and my 6th grader who was advanced in some areas and less so in other areas. My 4th grader has advanced to grade level material in just a few short months and my 6th grader is now ready for the third book, Pre-Algebra. I believe it would work well, also with an advanced math student because it leaves out all the fluff and the student can gain the math skills he needs quickly and efficiently, satisfying the advanced learner's desire to achieve.
The program is very inexpensive. The first four books can be purchased for $149 (with free shipping), which is much less than most programs materials for first to eighth grade math. I am sure we will be purchasing Volumes V and VI, which cover Algebra I and II, which cost $49 each (and $10 shipping).
What is inside each book, sample pages and a placement test can all be found at the Learn Math Fast System website. So whether you have a struggling math student, an advanced student or a student with a mixed level of skills, go over and take a look, and see what you think. It is the best no-nonsense math program I have ever seen.
Disclaimer: I received this product free through the company owner in exchange for my candid review. A positive review was not required, nor did I receive any further compensation. All opinions expressed are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.