Attention tips: MUS Delta/long division

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  • Michelle

    Help! My sweet DD9 is very bright and very distracted!! She’s very capable of her math lessons. However, doing long division or multi digit multiplication she’ll get up in the middle of a problem. Not only does it take her forever, but the distraction causes careless mistakes. Parenting/teacher tips for this one?? TIA


    When my son gets distracted I have him get up and do some exercises.  It helps him a LOT!  Maybe have her do 5 minutes of exercise before she starts math and halfway through?


    Both of my kids struggled with this. A few things that helped my kids.

    Graph paper. I write the problem in ink and they do the problem in pencil so when erasing they do not erase the problem on accident.

    If they get it wrong, I work with them to find the error, not make them do it on their own. So often it is something really simple, and as they work through it again they find it on their own.

    Remind them that it just takes time and let them sit with me when they needed to, to help check their work as they went so a silly mistake does not mess up the entire problem. They both know how to do the work, but would get caught up in the problem and have small errors. Checking their work as they go allows them to do their work, but not get discouraged with the time it takes and helps keep them focused and finish.

    Also reminding them that it is just for a time, long division does not last forever 🙂


    How much time are you requiring her to spend on math each day? Charlotte Mason would have recommended that a 9 year old spend 20 or 25 minutes on math each day. You might try having a talk with her about the habit of attention and rewarding her with a favorite subject to do afterwards or a 10 minute break to do something she would enjoy.

    If her lessons are short and she still seems unable to focus for that amount of time, I would try splitting math time up into two sessions, 10-13 minutes each and done at different times of the day to give her brain a break.


    I agree with Melanie32. Maybe shorten the time required. Just like in handwriting/copywork. I would focus on perfect execution. When my kids were having a hard time with the length of attention needed for long division, I would tell them to give me their very best effort for 2 (maybe 3) problems, and if they got those correct they could be done for the day. However, if I felt they did not do their best they would have to do another problem. That was very motivating for them. Only do this if you truly think it is an attention issue, not if it is an understanding issue. For the record, long division is a beast. All my children struggled with it in one way or another. Just take it slow and you will get there.


    I meant to add that my DD did MUS Delta and my ODS is almost done with it. I never felt the amount of questions to be too many per lesson (another reason why I like MUS) they just take time. I agree with others to not let the lessons get too long. Ours still stayed around the 15-20 minute range. Had they gone longer I would have had them split the lesson during the day. For my two sitting with them was one of best motivators to move through the long division problems, but those first few lessons of them, it took time and I had to help them along at first.

    Oh and I also showed them how all that practice with estimating and rounding really does help with getting close, by focusing on just part of the problem. So for 75769 divided by 432 I helped them see how to focus on just the 757 to start and rounding and estimating can get pretty close, not get caught up in the big number. (Not sure if that makes sense, hard to type it out 🙂 )


    I’ve had two go through Delta.  One needed two days per worksheet (or she’d finish later in the day).  Some days she could only get one long division problem done in her lesson time!  I sometimes sat with her to keep her focused.  We sometimes talked out the problems.  My other child was the opposite and easily finished one sheet per lesson!  lol

    I usually try to encourage them at this point in their MUS workbooks…about 3/4 of the way through, the problems get more advanced and they need to power through it.  I remind them that the book slows down a bit after this section.  So they see the light at the end of the tunnel.  😉


    Thank you for your responses. Of she would/could pay attention the lesson would be much shorter.

    I do not stick with CMs short lesson recommendation in math unless the child is diligently working. If she isn’t diligently working, she moves onto another subject and finishes math when everyone else is finished with school and having free time.

    Whether I sit with her or not, her attention just wanders.

    As I type this, she’s working on math with me standing in the room. She’s singing and is working right through the problem. She overheard her brothers, stopped singing, and dazed into space. Started singing again and continued to work the problem. Maybe head phones??? I’m finding the humor in this right now. 🙂

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