Giftedness and asynchrony...

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Giftedness and asynchrony...
Tue, 11-22-2011 - 3:23pm
DD finally made it into differentiated math classes. She has been wanting to do it since last year, but the places were already filled. Last week she basically talked the teacher into letting her go. It's a once-a-week pullout and she's expected to figure out whatever she has missed in normal math class and keep up on her own. She won't have any problems with the double homework load, and seeing that it's her call to be in math diff she's determined to do it. The only thing that struck her as being odd that that out of five full classes of children, each of whome send two kids to math diff, there are only two girls. She is one of them. Luckily, she's the type of girl wh
o sees that as a challenge rather than a source of discomfort.

This week I had to help her with math homework for the first time. She's home with the flu, so she missed both math diff and normal math. I noticed some asynchrony that disturbs me, and I'm not certain how to approach it. She was basically checking her answers with me while she broke down fractions, and I noticed that when she asked me questions, she usually figured out the answer on her own and would leap several steps ahead to the answer. The problem started when she had to explain her answer. She couldn't remember the math terms ("common factor", even "divide" and "multiply") and often mixed up her reasons. I'm sure it's not a comprehension problem she's having - she can draw what she means and can solve any word problem I give her, she just can't verbalize it back again. I found myself explaining the math terms in her worksheet over and over again, and two minutes later she would ask me again "what do you mean by common factor?"

She'll likely do fine on her own, she usually does. All the same, I was wondering how common this is and how I can help her. This is an issue that carries over into English - her reading and spelling are excellent, her syntax and vocabulary are well below average. How does that work? Is anyone else dealing with this?
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 12:10am
I wonder if she thinks symbolically rather than using language to name and manipulate concepts? I am a fairly visual-spatial person, and I find I do this sometimes. I can visualize the relationships, but I have to think "What is the nomenclature for this?" and sometimes, just like when I can't remember someone's name, I just can't access it for the life of me ... and then the penny will drop an hour or two later. Yesterday it was the word "inverse." I mean, really, of all things! I was trying to go over my dd17's early calculus stuff and review of preCalc and I couldn't verbalize "inverse." I just drew it for her on our virtual chat-window whiteboard and she laughed so long that I'd forgotten the word.

Anyway, if she's having no difficulty interpreting the word problems, and no difficulty getting to the solution in a reasonably step-wise fashion (even if she doesn't always write down each step) then I would guess she'll handle it all just fine, and with repeated use the terminology will gradually gel.

My girls are all very language-oriented and haven't had this kind of issue. My ds, who is more visual-spatial, tended to refuse verbal explanations from me and just intuit his math (or not, in which case we'd just set it aside until he could -- the luxury of homeschooling). I do remember when he was very little using a little cartoony sketch of a rabbit to help him remember the term "multiply" because "rabbits multiply like crazy" was a phrase he could remember. He had been performing multiplication since he was 3, but even at age 6 or 7 he couldn't always remember the word. So maybe pictorial mnemonics would help? you might ask her what term she would use to describe "common factor." Maybe it would help, for a while, to use a term that is more intuitive and descriptive to her.

Good luck!


in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 12:38pm
What Miranda said.

It doesn't surprise me that formal descriptions of mathematical concepts are lagging behind her ability to understand the concepts themselves. I suspect time will fix it. Or not...the concepts themselves are really what is key and what will lead to being able to do more advanced math in the future.

I'm a sort of half and half, and when I'm doing some tasks (music, math, computer programming) the verbal part of me goes on vacation. A few minutes ago I was in the kitchen, took a jar out of the refrigerator and said to my daughter, "I'm going to have some...uhhh...uuhhhhhh....uhhhh....lentil soup!" (It took half a minute or so to find the word for the thing I was looking at.) And when I read your post, "common factor" sent a chill through my heart...

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 2:17pm
Her excellent English teacher has her drawing pictures for new words, and after reading your post, Miranda, I know why. Maybe we should be doing more of that. DH is visual-spacial -he's an engineer- and he has often commented that YDD seems to approach tasks like he does. DD didn't talk at all until she was well past three. She preferred, for example, to fetch a stool and climb on the counter to get a cup rather than use language to ask me to get it for her. Even now she'll slack on verbal expression any chance she gets. I like the idea of asking her what her term would be. That would give her a chance to be more expressive and feel in control.
And like Deborah mentioned, music seems to shut off language to a certain extent as well. Her teacher knows she will start to fidget and pluck at her strings or fiddle around after two sentences. And she has greater difficulties speaking her second language - which she is perfectly fluent in, it's just not her favored tongue- during violin lesson.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Sat, 12-03-2011 - 8:01pm
I would say that the mathematical parts of her brain are developing ahead of the verbal parts right now.

I noticed when I was in high school that math and language based activities were different for my brain. If I was doing math, I could listen to pop music on the radio. I could even think about the words as I was working on the problems and it didn't distract me. But if I was doing a written assignment, I had to have the radio off or listen to classical (if the TV was on in the other room.) I could not concentrate and read/write while listening to words.

I think your daughter is doing just fine, however, if you live in WA or a state that has written portions of the state testing for math and writing, you may want to be sure she can verbalize and write or draw things out so she doesn't get dinged on the test. (My son has issues with writing, he bombed the tests. Multiple choice is his best test.) Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it unless the teacher is asking her to verbalize it.