International Adoption Info

Newsletter #51 for Internationally Adopting Parents
March 8, 2007
PAL Center Inc.

In This Issue

Adoption training courses are convenient and
most affordable way
to quickly access professional advice on the issues you
need to address.

Check out the course library,
use an opportunity to speak to the instructors

Group Consultations Calendar

by telephone or email

Post-adoption family consultation and counceling

Next Consultation Eligibility of international adoptees
for the Special Education services

Next Workshop

AMETZ (Manhattan, NY)

Behavior Problems
in Children Adopted Internationally:
How to be Proactive and Effective in their Behavior Management

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the Center for Cognitive-Developmental Assessment & Remediation, or a former student
of the BGCenter Online School,
or a user of the International Adoption Articles Directory.


Latest Articles
from the

International Adoption Articles Directory

Lisa Harp
Are you dealing with a math problem?
In the past few years there have been more and more students needing special help with math. Not too long ago most of the help was given to students with reading problems. But now, math is taking over.

From Our Database

Adapting Mathematical Instructions
for IA Children

Part One

We know from research and practical experience that post-institutionalized children are often academically delayed, have troubles with concentration and, most important, have abruptly lost their native language and a host of skills rooted in the language. No wonder that in older adaptees math becomes one of the first casualties of the transitional period. Thus, the adjustments and modifications in Math teaching and tutoring become imperative for the education of many school age IA children.

In this and the next Newsletter we publish some recommendations on how to address the notorious issue, compiled and adapted for internationally adopted children by B. Gindis Ph.D.

Math Language

Mathematics has its own vocabulary, and this terminology needs to be specifically taught to IA children. It is unlikely that they learn it on their own efficiently; they may have difficulty following verbal explanations and the steps of complex calculations.

Teaching key math terms as a specific skill rather than an outcome of basic math practice is essential for a recently arrived IA child. Math terms may include words such as "sum," "difference," "quotient," "proper fraction," etc. and may be listed and displayed in the classroom to help jog the child's memory during independent assignments. It's imperative to make sure that the child identifies the overall process involved in the lesson (i.e. when solving addition problems the child has to say: "Addition is combining sets" rather than silently practicing with numerals on a worksheet). It may take repeated teacher modeling, patient reminding, and much practice to utilize these techniques.

Equally important is frequently asking the child to verbalize what she is doing. Having the child regularly"play teacher" can be not only enjoyable, but also necessary for learning the complexities of the language of math. Also, understanding for all children tends to be more complete when they are required to explain, elaborate, or defend their position to others; the burden of having to explain often acts as the extra push needed to connect and integrate their knowledge in crucial ways.

Dealing with Impulsivity

IA children often react to math problem descriptions as signals to do something rather than meaningful instructions that need to be understood. They need to develop a habit of reading and repeating instructions for a problem before and/or after the computation, chunking a problem into small steps. By attending to a simple step at a time they can monitor more of the attentional slips and careless errors. Teachers should encourage an IA child to:

  • Stop after each answer.
  • Read aloud the problem and the answer.
  • Listen to herself and ask herself: "Does that make sense?"

Dealing with lack of concentration

At the beginning of academic remediation in math, an IA child will benefit from modification of instructional time. By all means avoid instructional time that includes a long stretch of independent practice: the child should not work on a large number of math problems without feedback from the teacher prior to completion. The periods of guided practice need to be longer and more frequent. Alternatively, at home or at school the children can use a self-checking computer software program.

Due to academic delays, memory and knowledge base gaps most post-institutional children will benefit from periodic and regular reviews of previously covered material. Each new unit must include a brief review of the previously covered and mastered knowledge and skills.

Dealing with lack of motivation

Modifying and varying reinforcement patterns is essential for an IA child who may often be "person-oriented" (looking for an adult's approval) vs. goal-oriented (looking for a personal achievement or completion of a task". The adaptation of reinforcement and acknowledgment of a child's progress begins with teachers' awareness of different reinforcement patterns. Beyond the "traditional" mathematical reinforcement style, which concentrates on obtaining the "right answer," an IA child may benefit from alternative reinforcement patterns that provide positive recognition for completing the correct steps in a problem regardless of the outcome. By concentrating on the process of mathematics rather than on the product, the child may begin to feel some control over her activity. In addition, teachers can isolate the source of difficulty and provide for specific accommodations in that area. For example, if a child has developed the ability to replicate the steps in a long division problem but has difficulty remembering the correct multiplication facts, the teacher should reward the appropriate steps and provide a calculator or multiplication chart to increase the child's ability to obtain the solution to the problem.


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