Elementary Arithmetic – Book 1: When to Progress

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  • ebrockhoff

    (This question is for anyone but I am really hoping that Richele finds this)


    My six year old is loving math! And I’m really enjoying it with him. So thank you for writing such a great math curriculum.

    He has some real strengths: he understands the written symbol represents quantity and he has no problem understanding math problems and can solve them easily with manipulatives. I can also call a “bean” a “cookie” or a “dog” and he isn’t tripped up. Pure numbers are also not a problem.. again, as long as he manipulatives.

    Naturally, I really want to progress through the numbers, and we have. We did one entire lesson a day up until Lesson 6, which is when I realized (yes, it took me this long!) that he couldn’t do mental math and that if he couldn’t do mental math then maybe we shouldn’t be progressing (even though his grasp of the concept is thorough).

    We’ve now repeated Lessons 4-6 about three times, and I’ve done Ray’s Lesson VII (numbers 1-5) also about three times. And he’s great! But his mental math is just NOT there.

    Is this a poor habit? Immaturity? Do I drill math facts since he understands the concepts? Do I move on to Lesson 10 and subsequently Intro. to Monday, and Place Value and Notation?

    He doesn’t seem bored or discouraged with the repetition, but I am at a bit of a loss as to how to appropriately respond to this stage or pace of learning.


    Hello and great question! As your child advances, his mental math should remain within his ability & comprehension. If that means you’ve moved further in lessons and to larger numbers but the mental math portion is making up 2s & 3s, so be it. He’ll still be cultivating habits of attention, steadfast thinking, concentration, etc.

    Let me know if that helps and thanks so much for your kindness.



    I’m just posting my question as a reply since it’s along similar lines. My daughter, 6, has done wonderfully up to money. She loved math time and even did really well at pure math, very quickly giving the answer and the reason from her head. Money, however, has her struggling. She seems to be starting to grasp that 2 nickels are 10 and a dime is 10 and they all equal 10 pennies. But if we try to do any sort of math (today was a piece of bubblegum is 4 cents and I give you a dime, how much change will you give me back?) She just can’t grasp it and seems to forget subtracting. Today, we ended up putting the dime away and just using pennies, to try to help her understand that giving change is just “10 take away 4”. What should I do? Should we stick with pennies for a bit, go back a few lessons and keep reviewing what we’ve learned? She is my oldest so this is my first time, I struggled with math, so I’m feeling that panic start to set in my guts. Help!

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