Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Battle of the Gifted

There is a political battle ranging right now between gifted funding and funding for students at the bottom in urban school districts. Chicago has been exempt thus far thanks to a status quo mayor and a governor who refused to do anything because there's no money to do it. This is all going to change quickly thanks to a new governor and soon to be a new mayor.

To gear up for the mess, I've been reading up on the last 5 years of failure in the school districts of Newark, California, Washington DC, and New York.

The race to the bottom

At the bottom of the pyramid are dysfunctional poor families. It seems hopeless. The schools that serve poor cannot educate their children while diverting a huge portion of resources from education to a variety of other causes, like community, jobs, politics, bureaucracy, and corruption. The schools that made a concerted effort to focus on education, starting with Kindergarten, found that 70% of the kindergartners left the district by 3rd grade. Violence, drug addiction, broken families, and instability are a way of life for the poor and negatively impact the child's ability to learn.

The middle of the education bell curve includes a remedial education level about 2 years behind preparation for college. Parents in wealthier districts send the kids to school reading a year a two ahead. Parents in not-so-wealthy districts send their kids to school ready to read. Parents at the bottom send their kids to school unable to recognize the difference between a letter and a word.

At the top, the 3 warring factions are a) parents who expect a decent education for their children that only exists in a gifted and talented program, b) gifted educators who are cynical about parents, and c) poorly done research that contends the best education for gifted is to put them in a classroom of kids who don't place a high value on education at home.

The fatal flaw in a mixed classroom is the requirement for material that is suitable for a mixed classroom, and a teacher who is trained and motivated to deliver this material to students of mixed abilities.

The way forward

The shining exception to the mess is Jo Boaler, a professor at Stanford, who is determined to produce and accumulate effective material and train teachers to use it. I hope she succeeds. In the mean time, I love the material and it's great for At Home gifted education. Her website is YouCubed.com and I encourage you to turn your printer on and visit the website to take advantage of the free material. Please take note of her course on Algebra for kids of all ages, especially if your child is over the age of 9 and you want to head over to my other website, competitiveparentmagazine.com, where I'm putting together a strategy to get the TestPrep kid into Stanford. Granted, I have an article from a few months ago explaining why I would not waste $250,000 on an undergraduate degree, but I'd be more than happy to pay $250,000 if I could stop by the math department at Stanford during student orientation week and meet Jo Boaler. It would be worth $250,000. I've got at least one child who might study in her department.

Here is an example of the material on her website. This 'worksheet' is for ages 5 to 11.

There are 3 things to note. First, a child of age 11 (of normal math skills) will get more out of this worksheet, like 5x3+4x4 than a child of age 5, who will probably use it to learn how to count or basic adding. Next, if your child aspires to be gifted in math, you can start with the 5 year old usage and just keep going to the 4th grade level. Boaler has successfully used her material during research to turn D and F middle school students into A and B students. That directly implies that you can use it to teach advanced math to little kids. It works.

The third thing to note is more of a warning. A few years ago, when our 6th grade gifted math teacher in our gifted program sent home a worksheet like this (although slightly harder involving exponents), parents were both baffled about what to do and outraged that they had to do it, and the teacher was run out of town. I frantically emailed parents about what to do but it was too little too late. How dare our teacher expect our gifted students to act gifted. It turns out that parents where heavily involved in homework - heavily, if you know what I mean. The replacement math teacher is probably good, but I don't know for sure, since the middle school team instructed students in very strong terms not to tell anything to parents ever again about homework. Good for them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Tiger Cub Parent

I am going to prove that being a softy parent will product much better results than being a strict, demanding parent.

I will admit that in the early days, I was a bit impatient and frustrated trying to get my useless under-qualified children to do productive academic work. It's hard to be a parent. You give your 5 year old a simple problem like 5x3 and they sob because they don't know why the plus sign is turned diagonally.

Why I'm a Softy

Every academic experiment that I have subjected to my children to has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. Every experiment. I've done dozens of these in all academic areas. I'm going to use the classic Every Day Math Grade 2 experiment as an example, but every single one of these challenges proceeds in exactly the same way:

  • Child spends 3 weeks getting through the first page.
  • Child spends the next 3 months getting most problems wrong and only doing a fraction of the problems that a child at the appropriate age would do.
  • Child starts to get things right and tends to work with less help for next few months.
  • By 8 or 9 months, child is starting to get most problems correct, albeit slowly, so we quit.

We've repeated this process in all academic areas over 8 years now and it always starts the same and ends the same.

It doesn't matter whether I'm demanding or not on the outcome. The child always gets from the first step to success just by doing a little each day. If I make comments like 'You're not trying and I'm disappointed' then an argument or more tears will ensue and we'll lose the whole day. Being demanding (or showing any emotion) tends to make it more painful, but doesn't change the outcome. I don't show negative or positive emotion. Positive emotion is equally counterproductive because when the child is getting everything wrong, you don't show positive emotion, and the child interprets that as the same thing as yelling and gets upset.

To repeat - the outcome is independent of whether the parent is demanding or not demanding. Being demanding wastes time.

Soft Limits

I have 3 soft limits. The first one is that our daily material is probably going to be ridiculously hard. The second is that each child has to do a little every day, like 15 minutes or an hour (for older kids). The third limit is when you ask me 'Can I use the computer because my friends are doing such and such right now' my response is 'Did you do your math today?'

These limits are soft because I've been doing this consistently for years. Of course a normal kid doesn't want to do ridiculously hard math. Of course a normal kid would rather just play. I am not personally offended by the inevitable complaining and begging. Do your math. I'll just say it softly, for the 13,567th time. No math, no computer.

The computer saved me. Before age 7, there was no computer option. I had to say things like 'you can go outside and play with your friends after you get your math done', or 'we'll leave for your T-Ball game after you do 3 problems'. Mostly, I had to sit there the whole time while we did it as a team. Before age 5, I had to keep a bag of skittles at all times.

Being a Softy Parent has long term benefits. I won't prove them here, but in short, the kids do lots of chores without being asked twice (they're like a Marines special forces unit in charge of household chores), they do their academic work on their own without my involvement, and they don't hate me. Plus, we exercise together, because of those skittles.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Nice Thing About Test Prep

The nice thing about test prep between the ages of 4 and 6 is that the same skills are used every few years until your child is finished with graduate school.

I'm gearing up for another round of tests with another group of 3 and 4 year olds. Chicago changed the start date for the programs that started in 1st grade (ours) to K; therefore test prep is officially defined as 'the sooner the better'. At least one of the kids I'm helping this year is in the suburbs. The suburbs tend to start later, like 2nd or 4th grade, and keep seats open for a child to join at his or her own pace. Chicago is more brutal.

For those of you who define test prep as 'do a lot of practice questions on a website' let me tell you what you are up against.

Vocabulary

I would love to do an experiment to see just how important vocabulary is to the test. I need one group of volunteers to study vocabulary; this group will not be allowed to do any practice questions or see a practice test. I need another group to do practice tests and not study vocabulary. I'm not sure any of my readers would sign up for this study, but fortunately I know a lot of people who don't prepare properly and show me their results and answer my questionnaire about practice methods. There are a lot of people in these 2 groups and the vocabulary group fairs much better.

Before we dive into reading, I want the child exposed to all math related vocabulary through 2nd grade. I'll take some 3rd grade words as long as they apply to generic topics like order or physical attributes. This not only addresses two-thirds of the test but is a good way to learn math.

During the reading process (age 4), there are only 2 constraints on vocabulary: I prefer short words that can be spelled using phonics rules and I exclude words that are only used at scrabble competition. I am tempted to publish a list of words entitled '100 words you need to know for the test', but the word list I put in the Pre-K Phonics book is better for brain development, is more ethical, and makes the other list irrelevant.

The normal rules of academic coaching apply to vocabulary. If the child actually memorizes the word 'trapezoid' and can spot the difference between trapezoid and quadrilateral, he will probably forget it 2 weeks later. Words like tall and wider will stick even at a young age. If a child forgets a word, it goes back on the Word Board. If a word is on the Word Board for 2 months, so be it.

During Kindergarten, we plow through Vocabulary Workshop. During first grade, it's Wordly Wise and Vocabulary Workshop since most school programs use Wordly Wise. By 1st or 2nd grade, the child is 2 years ahead and vocabulary work becomes efficient and effortless (depending on the day). By the end of 2nd grade, the brain is developed in this area and ready for different challenges. There's no point in going ahead 3 years before 4th grade, so we don't.

Skills Just Keep on Giving

Most school districts test in either in pre-K or K. Obviously, the program I outlined above cannot be completed in pre-K. We just keep up the 'test prep' until MAP or ITBS scores are where they need to be by 2nd or 3rd grade, and then we're finished with vocabulary. Where they need to be is 99%. Test prep means more than just getting into the right program. It means staying there, thriving, and maintain the same competitive advantage in skills until your child says 'you were right about the GRE' and you can retire.

By 2nd or 3rd grade the child memorizes new words on sight. It's cool to watch. It helps with all academic subjects, as you can imagine.

Starting in middle school, our super powers in vocabulary are needed each year.

One year we faced a difficult high school Chemistry course (in 7th grade, of course). I bought an AP Chemistry book from a used book site and we spent 6 weeks memorizing vocabulary. Quality parent-child time. It paid off.

Then we took the SAT 9 months later. I'll provide details in my other blog over the next few years because a) we're doing it again with the 2nd child and b) we're going to crush it this time because I know what I'm doing now.

The last hurdle to high school entrance is on December 1. This exam isn't the hardest of the two required exams, but why take changes. Vocabulary is a topic. I think we can adequately prepare in about 4 hours. I'm about to search for 'vocabulary word list freshman year of high school' or 'top vocabulary for the PSAT'.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

What is Giftedness and How to Get It

My favorite reader, Anonymous, left a great comment on last week's article. I encourage you all to read it. In this article, I'm going to describe how I define 'giftedness' and how I go about imparting it on other parents.

Here's the long term equation for giftedness:

Intelligence + Will + Interest = Your Child's Academic Performance

This equation was reported by David Lohman in a few of his papers. David Lohman is my hero for not his role as current author of the COGAT, but making all of his work publicly available so I could put the pieces together and defeat his test.

Next, take the classical education, which worked well for about 2,500 years until people started mucking with education. Here is an even briefer summary of Jessie Wise's brief summary in The Well Trained Mind. The classical education, as far as I can tell, mainly involves lots of reading and Jessie's daughter Susan ended up teaching literature at a university. I had to modify it a bit for math but I used the same formula.

  • Memorize everything from age 6 until about 4th grade.
  • Learn to think until high school.
  • In high school, learn to critically analyze literature and begin forming opinions.
  • In college use your emerging expertise in opinionationizing to choose a major that offends your parents.

In order to inject 'giftedness' into the classical education, I added a new step ahead of the traditional definition that begins at age 4.0 and overlaps step one above until about 6 or 7 years old depending on when you start. It is a combination of Jim Trelease's reading advice and Lohman's COGAT, going overboard on phonics and vocabulary, again taking Lohman's advice about how to pass the COGAT very literally.

  • Do phonics and get 1,000 books from the library. I took all phonics from pre K to 2nd grade, math vocabulary through 2nd grade, and packed it into Pre-K Phonics and Conceptual Vocabulary.
  • Master the COGAT. This was really hard at first (like before age 4), so I created Shape Size Color Count as sort of a pre-test-prep book. Still paying dividends.
  • Give your child a piano or keyboard, Piano Adventures, and ask him to teach himself piano.
  • Using Vocabulary Workshop + Pre-K Phonics, we kept the Word Board going until vocabulary was memorized on sight.
  • Test Prep ended right on schedule during Christmas break of Kindergarten. We used about a half dozen books from my curriculum page for the core curriculum with others as supplements. We started math with some counting (up to 5) and then jumped into Every Day Math Student Journal 1 for Grade 2.
Tiger Mom 2.0

Everything reading related was quality parent child time. There were some challenging moments with phonics (the word CAT for example was hell and took 3 weeks), but anything vocabulary related turned out to the the fun part of the week. This is where most of our time was spent, sitting with books deciding how many words my child would read (3) and how many I would read (the rest) on the next book, or standing at the Word Board acting out what the word 'mute' means while I keep asking a silent kid until we both break out laughing.

Math had its share of tears - not because I expect achievement. There were tears because I was content with my children spending 30 minutes figuring out a problem and explaining it to me than spending 2 minutes just telling them how to do it. When I say the word 'math', it means actual math or it means anything in the test prep curriculum that I list on this website on the curriculum page on the right. It's not about learning anything. It's about learning.

Working on cognitively challenging material taxes the brain. In fact, I expect during the new classical education step, a child's got about 15 minutes of quality thinking each day, maybe 4 or 5 days a week. I don't ask for a correct answer - or any answer for that matter - but we aren't going to stop until the brain is out of gas.

In the comment, Anonymous mentions the 10,000 hour rule. If I add up all of the cognitive skills training, including math, we're at about 250 hours over a two year period plus a lot of reading. The quality of these 250 hours varied from getting all 5 problems wrong to getting 2 or 3 out of 5 right.

If you visited my house during our cognitive skills training, you would think that I had very low standards and we were not learning anything at all. You would be 100% correct.

This website is about the 'intelligence' part of the equation above. Will and Interest are covered in the other blog. Your child's hard work in teaching himself goes part way toward 'will', but by 4th grade you still have most of the work to do. All of that reading lays the ground work for 'interest', but again by 4th grade you have to work really hard as a parent to stay out of 'interest' or you'll ruin it.

The new version of the Tiger Mom expects work every day toward our goals, but doesn't really care what the result is. The result takes care of itself. The result is way beyond expectations, so why push it?

The definition of gifted

Almost every state has a similar definition of gifted. A gifted child, per definition meets two criteria. The first criterion is that they learn quickly, independently, and would be bored in a classroom teaching material the gifted child already knows. The second criterion is that the gifted child scores at 98% or higher on a test that measures the academic and thinking skills that produce a child capable of learning quickly and independently.

Therefore, the path to giftedness is pretty straight forward. Teach the skills that the test is measuring.

When I started this research, every single book, paper, article, and pamphlet on giftedness said that it is genetic, at least in part. I have proven that it is ZERO percent gifted and can easily show that only bad logic and ignorance can ascribe cognitive skills to genetics. Even for those at the 99.9999% level with parents who never graduated high school.

So we're down to about 250 hours of investment to set your child on the right path to giftedness. If it's just the test you're worried about, you might be able to get to 95% in about 6 to 8 weeks and 100 hours, but only if the cutoff is lower, and you still have the rest of the work to do or they'll have a really hard time in their new program.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The State of Test Prep

Thanks to Google's diabolical news algorithm, my personal news feed includes every article on education, testing, GAT programs, SAT test prep, and any content that includes the words gifted or talented. I accidentally clicked on an article about Nebraska football and was immediately inundated with articles from cornhusker.com, gonabraska.com, redandkernally.com and other sites. So I read about education and the Big Red.

All of the news is bad, and about 80% of articles are inaccurate, misleading, or full of incomplete or faulty logic, even from authors who bill themselves as experienced educators in GT programs. Being a parent who values education makes you Public Enemy Number One. If you want a good education for your child, you are the problem.

The reason you want your child in a gifted program is that the non-gifted program is 2 years behind the rest of the world and teaches your child to not think by subjecting him to spoon feeding and mind numbing worksheets. We can do mind numbing worksheets at home, thank you, if we want to. I know how to read to my child from a math book while he stares into space.

In high density urban environments, education has additional challenges. I'm surrounded by great schools that are 1/3 ELL, 1/3 zero reading at home, and 1/3 really bright kids. Mixed classrooms have been proven superior for gifted children, but only if the teach has the training, support, curriculum, and time to teach 3 levels of material. None of them do, except in well crafted studies. A gifted program is not an option - it is a minimum requirement for pre-college education. In a rural environment where I came from, I'd say the situation is more dire.

Basic parenting

Before I discovered 'optional' programs, I decided that my kids should read a lot and be exposed to a wide variety of what our world has to offer. On a daily basis, they should be subjected to material that is challenging and just above their cognitive grasp, aka something to make them think, aka math. According to current thinking on gifted education, this makes me wealthy and privileged. Our public librarian should have been confused why I visited weekly instead of sending my butler.

After I discovered gifted education, we changed gears a bit. Reading is good education, but 2 years of advanced vocabulary in one gulp is gifted. We stopped doing 'math', and started doing 'math you will not see for 2 more years.'

More advanced parenting

Somewhere along the way, I stopped trying get my child to learn math. I shifted to getting my child to teach themselves math. This dramatic shift in pedagogy came about because of the step I outline below, but it had a dramatic shift on the pace and the nature of the work.

If you want your child to shine on double digit addition, for example, you teach the mechanics of double digit addition, the child practices double digit addition a lot, probably starting with single digit addition and working their way up step by step until their speed and accuracy is there. People are amazed at how someone so young is so fast and accurate at double digit addition and you are very proud.

But if you take a step up to teaching your child to teach themselves math, you have to walk into what I call the Education Disaster Zone. When your child gets the hang of 4 + 5, probably counting on their fingers, you hit them with 23 + 57. They ask 'What is 23? Where is the arithmetic operator that is supposed to be between the 2 and the 3?' They can say 'arithmetic operator' because you have been pummeling them with vocabulary for the last 3 or 4 months. Instead of 20 problem at 30 seconds per problem, they are getting half way through one problem (23 + 57) in 20 minutes, barely getting any of it. As soon as they get 23 + 57, it's on to the next topic.

The child may still be counting on their fingers. 23 fingers is a problem, but whatever. In the meantime, the child just spent 6 months trying to develop the skills needed to handle what I call 'thinking work'. Not memorization (which comes anyway thanks to vocabulary), not speed, not accuracy, but advanced thinking and problem solving skills. 6 to 12 months later, they will emerge with a formidable tool set.

More effective parenting

Thanks to the COGAT, we had to take a 4 month hiatus from math and focus on non-verbal content. It turns out that this material is raw cognitive thinking training. The test prep approach, in retrospect, is muchg more effective and efficient thinking training when combined with supplementary material.

After each test, we came back to math, and it was a lot easier, even with my insane program. No math for 4 months and the child jumps back in, ahead of where they were, working more quickly and with less help. Thanks COGAT. Why don't schools take this approach? Probably because they are stuck with Common Core.

Step up to coaching

The biggest challenge in this approach is getting your child to stay in the game when he's getting trounced by the material. If your child is 'naturally gifted', because you did all of the things you were supposed to do before the age of 3, none of which I did, you may be wondering what problem I'm trying to solve.

The problem is giving your child the education that he deserves, the education that all children deserve but very few will get because, according to my news feed, the whole country is turning against gifted education. Fine - this will make it easier to get into college for DIY's like me who put a bit of effort into At Home Schooling after school each day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

GAT Games

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could turn your child into a genius by playing games and doing projects all day? Technically, you can, but none of us are willing to risk it except for home schoolers in Montana.

Here are some of our favorite games. On the way to 99% these games become very competitive high stakes cage matches. These games are fairly age independent and work through different levels of certain cognitive skills. All best practices from previous article apply here.

Find the dinosaur

When my child was between the ages of 2 and 5, we would play this game in lieu of getting to bed on time. Any dollar store or drug store has a pack of animals, dinosaurs, and fish. Get all of them.

Find a messy room. Uncleaned bedrooms are ideal. Ask your child to leave the room and close the door. Hide the animals in plane sight. Invite your child to come back into the room, sit down, and from their vantage point - without moving - identify each animal in their hiding place.

The rules vary at age 2. There's no way you can ask a 2 year old to sit in one place; instead she'll run around the room collecting animals.

GAT Extensions
  • As your child develops visual acuity, hide the animals more carefully so that only a small portion is visible.
  • Close your eyes, and ask your child to describe where and how the animal is hidden, including orientation. Vary the orientation.
  • Invite your child to take a turn hiding the animals for you. When the child is 2, he will hide the animals in the exact same places that you
  • did and jump up and down and dance next to each animal gesturing wildly and laughing while you pretend you don't see the turtle in the exact place you hid the turtle on your turn.
  • Don't forget to wiki each of the animals and use the proper name. Vocabulary is king in cognitive skills.

Over time, you should see the direct result of their growing skill set, e.g.in the nonverbal section of practice tests.

Find the word

Say a word backwards and ask your child what the word is. For example, is erutinruf is furniture.

One nice thing about this game is that it can be played anywhere, including the car. Another nice thing about this game is that it covers the gamut of cognitive skills from starter skills to very advanced IQ test taking skills. If your child has to sit for the WISC, this is your game. Finally, there are unlimited variants of this game, like anagrams and word scrambles.

If your child is learning phonics, stick with 3 letter words.

If your child is preparing for an IQ test, use a lot of simple 2 syllable words, like schoolbus or subway. There is an important reason for this approach. The path from an IQ of 100 to an IQ of 172 is algorithms, and IQ tests like words, so your child needs to become adept at word algorithms. In this case, the algorithm to solve subloohcs in 1/10th the time is to solve 'sub' and 'loohcs'.

In the absence of algorithms, your child will build working memory. This game is the working memory builder while your child struggles with sbuloohcs slowly and carefully with repeated do overs. It is both enjoyable and painful for me to watch a child plod along with the standard approach.

To make the game more fun, play the game in a public setting where there are posters and signs and billboards and choose a word that your child can find. Your child will be exercising a few important sub-skills while comparing each visible word to the backwards word. Repetition is an opportunity for your child to invent shortcuts.

The only way to get from linear thinking to algorithmic thinking is for you not to tell your child the rule that problem decomposition is 10 times as fast, but make them struggle the hard way (building working memory) until they figure it out for themselves. If your child is 10, and they don't show dramatic improvement in 4 weeks, explain the easier way.

I'm thinking of a color

The rules of this game are simple. You say, 'I'm thinking of something in this room and it's color is green'. Then your child looks around and guesses which green object you are thinking about.

How do you turn this game into a cognitive skills builder? The green object could be a the small plant in a painting on the wall, or the red object could be their lips. Not a bad start. Do these things as well. But no, this will not do.

'I'm thinking of an object that slightly smaller than the previous object but is used by the same profession'. You just nailed both figure matrices and word analogies. If your child has to sit for the COGAT and not the WISC 5, this is your game.

Conclusion

Games are a fun way to pass the time on the march to 99%, but you're not going to get there by playing the average version of games at the average level.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Helping and Not Helping

Shortly, I'm publishing a 2 part how-to for parents who just found out about GAT.  It's not bad.  The bullet points from the first video would make up the table of contents if I ever write a book on how to cheat your way into a GAT program.  We have to reshoot the 2nd video because my 10 year old editor screwed up the audio. I'd help him fix it, but I don't know how to use Premier Pro.

The weird thing about cheating into a GAT program is that if you do it right, your child actually acquires GAT skills. The other way your child can acquire GAT skills is to put them in a GAT program.  In other words, GAT is a self fulfilling prophecy.  If you act like GAT, and walk like GAT, and talk like GAT, you'll end up GAT.    See Amy Cuddy on 'Fake it until you make it' for inspiration.

In my video, I cover coaching skills, including not helping.  This skill needs some elaboration.  For those of you who are thinking 'my child does their grade level or next year's math worksheet on their own with no problems', I'm talking about something insanely hard, age inappropriate, that requires concepts and skills that your child does not have.  Something they actually need help with.

But you're not going to help.

Easier said than done

From a very young age, my kids had daily math.  Someone once told me that Indian and Chinese schools are 2 years ahead in math, so their first math was a 2nd grade workbook in Kindergarten.  It seemed reasonable that if they took long enough on a single question, maybe 25 minutes, they would eventually get it on their own. 

When test prep season rolled around (in one case 2 months before we started doing math), we had to start all over again with figure analogies and classification.  Again, you spend enough time on a single problem, you'll eventually get it.

Why would you spend 25 minutes on a hard problem, when you could spend 25 minutes on 20 easier problems? Wouldn't your child learn 20 times as much doing 20 times the number of problems?    Good questions.  We're not trying to teach the child whatever the subject of the problem is, we're trying to teach them learning skills at the highest level.  Then 6 months later, they can teach themselves.  Or, in the case at hand, they can teach themselves how to do a problem they've never seen before in order to pass a GAT test and get into the desired program.  As I point out in the video, you won't be in the room to help.

What to do instead

So you're sitting there for 25 minutes not helping, your child is struggling (which is good), maybe crying (which is bad), what do you do to pass the time?  You the parent learn problem solving skills, and in the process, convey these to your child.

The first problem solving skill is to understand the question.  That seems obvious until you are faced with a question you don't understand, in which case most people give up and jump to the solving part.  Have the child explain it to you, one shape, one word at a time.

If your child is lacking some skill to put the pieces together - inching toward the solution step - then you need to backtrack on that step.  In math, this is double digit addition for the first time, which is actually multiple steps in one; maybe you need to work on adding numbers that are multiples of ten.  In figure classification, this is brainstorming the names of attributes and seeing which shape or picture has what attribute.  Sometimes it means cutting out shapes and comparing them, or drawing each shape and their 6 potential transforms, then coming back to the problem.

The child will have no idea what you are doing other than prolonging the question until the light bulb goes off.

Then the child gets the problem wrong and you don't care.  You carefully chose material beyond their abilities for this exercise.  Of course they got it wrong.  Start over.  There's no penalty.

What you accomplished

You child just mastered zero math.   They 'learned' nothing and if you show them the exact same problem tomorrow they'll be stuck again and get it wrong.

In fact, they just unlearned.  They unlearned that quantity is quality, that getting an incorrect answer is bad, that mommy loves you because you know something.  They unlearned going fast, memorizing, caring about the material.

Instead, the child just spent 25 minutes learning how to go slow, to look at details, to decompose a problem, to investigate a problem thoroughly, maybe taking a sidebar on sub-skills.  These are very advanced graduate level foundational problem solving skills.  In other words, we're teaching the child how to be gifted and talented.  The gift is going slow, and the talent is not giving up.

Are there shortcuts?

Suppose your child has to take a cognitive skills test in 2 weeks.  You've done nothing up to this point to prepare.  Will the approach above prepare your child for the GAT test, or do you want to teach them how to transform shapes and worry about learning after the test?

These tests are not designed to measure how much your child knows.  They are designed to measure how they go about learning and problem solving.  These tests are really well designed to meet this objective.  On the hardest questions, the ones that lift the score above the cutoff, prior knowledge and practice is not going to help.  The only thing that will help your child is the learning skills.