One of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to adjust the pace of learning to the child. This is especially true for an autistic child. Today, we came across one of those bumps in the road to mastering decimals. Making Math Meaningful occasionally takes a leap of logic too large for Pamela to navigate, and today she bumped into one. The book went from activities like the one I described last week to comparing two decimals (a greater than, less than, or equal symbol). She did not immediately grasp concepts like 12 being the same as 12.0 or 12 being different from 12.3.
Pamela has taught me three different strategies when this happens:
- Pause – Stop the activity. Get a fresh sheet of paper and possibly concrete objects and re-teach the concept in a different way. If she seems completely confused, then it is time to rewind.
- Rewind – Go back to what she knows thoroughly, rerun the ideas covered since until we see where she stops understanding. Get a fresh sheet of paper and possibly concrete objects and re-teach all missing concepts in a different way. If we have covered a concept in a myriad of ways to no avail, it is time to eject. A sure sign of this is when she has developed the habit of frustration and screams every time I pull out the activity!
- Eject – Pull out other activities and goals for that subject and work on them. Table what is confusing her for some time. Sometimes, she is not developmentally ready and needs more time before she can master a concept. A great example of this is how we took an entire year off writing to develop her pre-writing skills!
Today we paused, and I covered what I could in the spur of the moment. Later, I typed up a sheet in Excel to add a few more steps to the teaching process that were not included in the book. My concrete objects for tomorrow’s sheet will be dollars and coins. I have fake paper dollars and coins for teaching money concepts, and I will drag them out to teach comparison of decimals. Since Pamela understands money, I plan to set up each side of the equation with one-dollar bills and dimes. I think it will be easier for her to fill in the equation properly. Then she follow my example and pull out the proper number of bills and coins for each side. When she shows an understanding, she can work independently.
If she gets it, our normal progression is to fade from objects to drawing them on paper. In time, she will fade to thinking rather than drawing. If she does not get it, I may have to fall back on my strategies and rewind.