This series is about some of the students I have worked with over the past three to five years. These are stories of determination, hard work, diligence and most of all – success.
Names have been disguised to protect the children involved, but all other details are true.
The first is about a girl I’ll call ‘L’.
L was in grade 8 when I first met her. She has a dazzling smile, the most wonderful hugs, and a real desire to succeed. Although she was an avid reader, and a gifted musician, when I first met her, she had never passed a math test in her life!
We started to see each other twice a week and mostly focused on her math homework – although, there were times when Science or English needed more of our time. She believed that she could not do math. She had been told that she did not have the ability to do so. (L had been diagnosed with a Learning Disability in grade school, but help from the resource centre had not enabled her to grasp the basic concepts.)!
I got her playing Sudoku. At first, she was a bit confused by it; however, within a few lessons, she was addicted. I bought her a Sudoku puzzle book, and her mom reported that she was often buried in it!
At that point, I knew that she could do math.
In my experience, kids who can see patterns, can do math. In fact, if your child has ever used the JUMP™ math books, you will have noted that patterns are the first pages of every book.
Emboldened by this knowledge, I moved to start at the foundations of math. I helped her learn how to use a calculator, gave her a set of cue-cards which had many, many definitions, and began working through all the exercises she was given by her teacher for homework. I helped her prepare for tests, and by the end of the year, she was passing math – just barely, but passing nevertheless.
I continued to work with ‘L’ for the next two years. She was more and more encouraged. We found that she loved Circle Geometry, and could do Algebra with a little assistance. By the end of Grade 9, she was getting marks in the 60’s, and we were starting to believe that she could attempt the Pre-Calculus math that would be offered in Grade 10.
At that time however, her IEP (Individual Education Plan) came up for review, and it was discovered that she had been on an Adapted Plan, reserved for students who have a ‘Q’ designation from a School Psych-Ed Assessment. In fact, her assessment showed a much more serious Learning Disability, and she was put on a Modified Plan. This took place in October of her Grade 10 school year, and she began doing most of her courses through On-Line Learning, with support from some wonderful teachers at the Lucas Centre in North Vancouver.
Of course, this meant that the work we had already completed on the Pre-Calculus was wasted and we had to start over again. Even so, her determination to succeed kicked into high gear and she worked hard. I have to say that this young girl had the most organized binders, cue-cards, and school supplies set-up of any child I have EVER worked with. She was motivated!
As the year rolled on, I would arrive for our appointed lesson time, and she would be ready – books all laid out, text book open, having completed as many of the assigned questions as she could, with notations beside the ones she didn’t understand. Our tutoring time was really fruitful!
Before the school year was done, she completed the Math – and the Science, and the English and the Socials, with stellar marks in every course. In spite of being on a Modified Program, L was granted her Grade 10 credits. I’m thrilled to report that she will be entering Grade 11 next year, and completing her high school work through the On-Line Learning program in BC.
This child is a delight – determined, as I said, and motivated to succeed.
The point is this: don’t let someone tell your child they can’t do math (or any other subject, for that matter). You may be surprised what your child can accomplish with the right attitudes, the right focus, and the right tutor.
Oh, and if you’re reading this ‘L’, congrats! I always knew you could do it!
Til next time,