Monday, February 23, 2015

Perfectionism

My 7-year-old has a love-hate relationship with this online math program he’s been doing. It’s just extra practice -- drilling on arithmetic -- and he zoomed through addition and subtraction. Multiplication has been a bit more challenging. The goal is to help him memorize his times tables, and to do that, the program asks you to figure out each problem in less than 3 seconds. Unfortunately, this has been making him rather flustered. He’ll get one wrong, then that will set him off. He’ll hit wrong numbers on the keyboard which, on at least one occasion, led to a massive fit about “I’m so bad at this!”

I’ve been debating how to deal with this. One option is to encourage a bit of a break from the program while he figures out a different way of practicing. The program is supposed to help him memorize times tables, but he can memorize on his own and come back to it, particularly if part of the problem is trouble with the keyboard (more number keys are in play than in single digit addition and subtraction). Since I’m not that big a fan of giving in to fits, though, I’ve also tried to have conversations about how part of practicing is making -- and recovering from -- mistakes. Think about how many times he fell off various tracks in Mario Kart on the Wii, and now he wins most races!

What’s actually seemed to work best, though, was his own suggestion. He wanted me to log into the parent portal and tell him how far he’d gone in the multiplication section. For some reason, learning that his placement score was 24, and he’s now up in the 30s, made him happy. He’s making progress! He’s making mistakes, but that number is going up.

How do you deal with children hating to make mistakes?

6 comments:

Calee said...

We took a break from the timed math games at the beginning of addition and subtraction when A was having the same sort of break down. Then, several months later, she raced through them and it was fun. A couple of weeks ago, we sat down on a Sunday afternoon and talked through the 4x tables till she had them perfect. I've forgotten to do it with 6s and 7s since then but it made doing the paper/computer practice much easier once she felt confident. The timer was a big confidence killer in the early stages.

nicoleandmaggie said...

I kind of wish we'd thought to find an online practice when we were doing this... we used flashcards and it was soooo hard on DC1 and me. But he felt so proud of himself when he mastered it, so all-in-all I think it turned out well. (This was also before he had learned he could master Mario-cart. Video games are the BEST for perfectionism.)

https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/on-flash-cards/

PhysioProffe said...

I am still traumatized from being forced to memorize the multiplication tables as a little kid. It was so absolutely painful for me, that I got in all sorts of trouble in school because I resisted doing it. And I am excellent at math, and did really well in advanced multivariate calculus and other advanced math classes in college and graduate school.

Anonymous said...

This isn't about dealing with frustration, but....
Check out the Flash to Pass app. It's pretty basic, yet offers options for all four operations.
You can choose to drill on only one table and set the number of problems (10, 20, or 30). The time display is optional. I just have the kids try to improve their previous score.

lgm said...

We didnt ask for memorization of the times tables, but for knowing. Once knowing is accomplished, fluency can be achieved.
Dealing with not liking to make mistakes....no one likes to make mistakes. Dont set them up for failure, move the bar a little at a time....which is what your student did.

Danielle said...

Oh My Goodness! This is exactly what has been happening with me and my daughter. She is 7 and she "hates timer games." Even ones with no educational value. If it has a timer she quits. Won't even try it. As for the educational timers (First in Math, Lexia, Symphony Math): She knows all the answers. It is nothing difficult for her, but the thought that she may get one wrong because she is rushed causes a panic in her that is uncontrollable. When she does get one wrong there is all sorts of talk about how she "can't do this" or "I'll never get this right!" I've tried calming her down and reasoning with her. (You know the answers. You've answered them before. etc) I've even yelled at her. (Heat of the moment, yes I know it's bad.) Nothing helps. I've tried forcing her to keep going even if it takes an hour. I've tried letting her quit for a little while and go back to it. It happens EVERY TIME. My only suggestion is to try to teach coping mechanism to calm them down before they go over the edge. But even that is barely helping.

As for multiplication tables, I've had good results with songs. We are on 8's now sung to the tune of "This Old Man." There are a lot of YouTube videos out there.