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  1. #1

    Default Algebra Meltdown

    We had a huge meltdown yesterday over algebra. My dd was a straight A student in ps and in the gifted program and was reduced to tears yesterday because she does not understand simplifying. I should say that she didn't "get it" after five minutes of trying ("It makes me feel stupid"). That is was upset her I believe. She has so much invested in her identity as one of the smart kids that she wants nothing to do with anything that she is going to have to struggle with. I was feeling really bad for her until she tried to blame me for not explaining it right. Really, I am so glad we are hsing. If we accomplish nothing else she will be able to tackle things that are difficult for her without falling apart and giving up.

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  3. #2


    Yeah, I was in the GT program in my school district. I've never seen a group of more insecure people in my life. I agree; it's so important to learn that lesson before hitting adulthood.
    Batman--16, neurodiverse, Videotext Algebra, Conceptual Physics, Writeshop II & graphic novels for lit, Fix-It Grammar, Game Development
    Robin--13, Videotext Algebra, Writeshop I, Fix-It Grammar, Hakim's History of Science, BFSU or Conceptual Academy, misc. lit. selections

    "When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."-Mark Twain

  4. #3


    Batgirl, you are SO on the money. I tell ds9 that he does well because he tries hard and doesn't give up. He used to call himself stupid if he had to work at anything after being pulled from a ps gifted program. My mistake for letting him know that he was gifted! I have the same problem as OP sometimes in math. Tuesday was a nightmare. Today, though, he was a different person. He figured it out and did all the problems I asked him to do....with no drama. I swear I think his day-to-day mood has to do with the mmHg of air pressure outside and the moon phase. No, REALLY!! lol


  5. #4


    Oh I SO feel your pain. My son truly, deeply in his heart and soul, believes that every.little.thing should come easily to him just because *most* things do. It's been a major struggle in our homeschooling, but it's also one of the big reasons that homeschooling is the right path for him. He knows he wouldn't be able to melt down in a classroom and he has the freedom to do so at home, but oh it is so hard to deal with. I've struggled with his perfectionism for years already; unfortunately I still have no advice.

    I do find that making jokes out of situations helps--like when he starts to tense up because he's unsure, or something went wrong, I can say in my silly voice "Oh no! Not that {reduced to it's most basic simplicity}! Why it can NEVER be fixed!" and then he'll usually start to see that not getting it right or whatever really isn't the end of the world. Of course, he's only 8 so silliness still works. I don't know what the arsenal will be when he's older.

    (( hugs and sympathy))

    I am so familiar with the blame game: "I wish daddy were here to explain it!"...ugh. Daddy would tell you to buck up, dude!
    Mama to one son (12)

  6. #5


    Don't you just hate perfectionism ? It's so distressing for the perfectionist and those who deal with him/her...

    My advice isn't algebra specific. I regularly try to choose something I find very difficult and do it so the kids can see me do it, and verbalise my whole thought process along the lines of "wow, this is hard, i feel so dumb, but maybe if I give it a try, but what if it's no good, oh well, whats the worst that can happen blah blah on and on" all the time actually doing the thing I'm so bad at and acting pleased when I finish it, even if I'm still really bad at it. Then I will often reflect upon the process aloud as well. total overkill, but they are getting the message.

    I figure they need to hear and model on a voice that can defeat or at least argue with the inner critical voice.

  7. #6


    Wow DD is the same way. She's so used to things always coming easy that if she struggles for more than 60 seconds on something it's in her word "THE END OF THE WORLD" this said while shouting with tears streaming down her face and trembling lip.

    If I say it's not I get the usual "oh MOM" but you're so right that it's something you have to learn before you're an adult. It's simply not possible to be good at everything or to have everything come easy.

    My DH says it's my fault that I expect too much. Unfortunately he expects to little. I was sort of hoping we'd cancel each other out to alas no. And I'm with Melissa, err Sadie, Melissa - Lady with Vacuum - I try to show her how I struggle to write an article or let her know that the report I'm working on is difficult and I'll keep struggling through and do the best possible job I can but what if it's not enough and oh woe is me.

    She gets that at times I'm being over dramatic but I probably created the insecurity at some point so hopefully she'll also get we're only human!
    Mom to 1 DD -12. Wrangler to 2 Green Card dogs, 1 cat, a tank of sea monkeys and a DH who won't come over to the dark side
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    Me fail English? Thatís unpossible - Ralph (the Simpsons)

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  8. #7


    DD was put into the T&G program at ps in K. Boy, do I regret that. She beats herself up for not understanding whatever the first nano-second of learning it. And then, the meltdown ensues. I really sucked at Algebra in high school and so I am gearing up now to prepare to teach it to her. I've already bought the first winnie cooper math book and am buying the other two also. I'm hoping that TT keeps me from going gray.................LOL

  9. #8
    Senior Member Arrived dbmamaz's Avatar
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    Curious if you mean simplifying fractions or grouping like terms?

    algebra is a really big transition for a lot of kids (apparently). this was hard for me to understand because I did algebra 1 as independent study the summer between 7th and 8th . . .but for my son, its been a big big deal. we finally got the singapore books, which started with a really good review of basic math. It turns out there were some things he just didnt know. Including most of how to do math with fractions. He still struggles, but its a LOT better. I have to be really, really patient with him, and walk him through problems until he gets it. He had been in gifted classes in grade school, and specail ed classes in middle school, but really, the school's math is just SOO awful! I occasionally bring in another resource - a khan academy video or some other on-line source to help, if he gets really stuck. Like i found a virtual balance beam for helping him understand the idea that you have to do the same thing to both sides of the equation.

    anyways, you have my sympathy
    Cara, homeschooling one
    Raven, ds 10, all around intense kid
    Orion, floundering recent graduate
    22 yo dd, not at home
    Inactive blog at longsummer

  10. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Accidental Homeschooler View Post
    She has so much invested in her identity as one of the smart kids that she wants nothing to do with anything that she is going to have to struggle with
    She sounds a lot like my ds. We've been working with him the last couple of years to get past that. You might want to read this:

    The fixed mindset person believes talent is people are smart, just because. They tend to avoid any challenges that might make them struggle. Their identitity is so wrapped up in looking smart that they feel anything less is a challenge to their identity. This is my son right now.

    My daughter is definitely of the growth mindset. They believe they can "get smarter' through tackling challenges and learning something new. They embrace difficulties since they know they can learn from them; it's not such a blow to their ego.

    I think the labels of "smart" or "gifted" does kids more harm than good. Perhaps start commenting more on the effort your dd exterts than on the results. This doesn't mean to not have high expectations on the results. But something along the lines of "Wow. You really struggled over this work and managed to tackle it. That effort really paid off!" might start to let your dd know that struggling is OK.

    Hope this works.

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University graduate: BS in Computer Science, minor in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  11. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by dbmamaz View Post
    Curious if you mean simplifying fractions or grouping like terms?
    It was grouping like terms when both addition/subtraction,multiplication/division and exponents were present and with multiple variables.

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Algebra Meltdown