My great-nephew is graduating from high school. This is a young man who struggled in school when he was younger. In fact I home schooled him for his third grade year because the school he was attending had no resources to tutor him. So I quit work and spent the year bringing his math skills up to the appropriate level. This was a child who could read at a fourth grade level but couldn’t add.
I was not going to let him fail and I was the one who could help him. After researching into what his math block might be I found that as we are starting to learn our brains break the concept of numbers into the visual-the number we see and the conceptual-what that number is in quantity. For example the number 3 is visual. The number III is conceptual. But they are equivalent. He had a disconnect between these. In his mind 1+3 and 3+1 required separate calculations. They were independent of each other. This was a young person who required the old-fashioned memorization process.
Once this process was put into place using math flash cards he started making progress. By the time our year was complete he could add, subtract and had started to learn multiplication. He could tell time and make change.
The most amazing thing was I could reward his hard work with history and literature. This little fella loved history. We learned about all fifty states by the history of each state.
I also helped him become a student. I tried to impress on him that the teacher was there for all of the students but it was difficult for a teacher to work individually with their students and he needed to make sure the teacher knew when he needed help. We worked out the way for him to ask for help and what to expect in a public school classroom of 25-30 students. He did well one-on-one but was shy in expressing himself in the classroom.
He is graduating from high school and my heart is happy.