Friday, September 8, 2017

Little Kids and The Big Leap

I've been working with little kids lately.  I like this group the best because each child is much more likely to have zero GAT skills at the onset and thus it's the most rewarding place to spend my time.   Getting a 7th grader from 97 to 99 is frankly not much because of all that new teen attitude.  I need a break from my overly technical analysis of Verbal questions anyway, so lets talk about the Big Leap from not at all GAT to GAT Powerhouse of Awesomeness.

When I put together Shape Size Color Count for age 4, I removed the solutions before publishing because publishing costs are so high and who needs a solution to 5 blob fish minus 3 blog fish?  In response to a complaint on Amazon, I started typing up the solutions which are found here.  I just started, and probably don't need to cover all the questions because once you get it, you get it.  I think the mean reviewer was right on the benefit of solutions.  While the first 20 questions are easy for an adult, and they are a gold mine of 'cognitive stuff' going on that the parent is not going to fully appreciate until months or years later when she sees a COGAT or NNAT practice test.

Question 21 begins a quantitative section. This approach seems downright insane.  It's the same level of insanity of doing Every Day Math Grade 2 well before grade 2.  It requires the leap in most cases because most people do what I did when my child was age 3, which is nothing.

Depending on the age of the child, this leap could take a few days or 3 weeks.

It took 3 weeks the very first time, despite the fact that SSCC is intentionally slow to ramp up.  The problems start on the easy end of working memory visual number sense whole language math with a lot going on, and work up to working memory visual number sense whole language math with more going on.  No parents have reported as bad experience as I had with the Test Prep Kid (expect the usual crying when the child is having a bad day).  When I work with other kids, I'm left wondering if my kids weren't the dimmest kids in the GAT nebula.  Maybe we're the Bad News Bears of GAT.

But I do know that watching the struggle in the first few weeks of any of the major projects we started, including SSCC and Test Prep Math paid off in such a big way after the initial start up sluggishness.  Unfortunately, this start up period is mandatory.  You can't spoon feed your way to GAT.  It's about thinking at a higher level where things are new and confusing, not step-by-step being trained to do work at a higher level to avoid the 'new' and the 'confusing'.

What if a parent watches their child struggle for 2 or 3 weeks and decides that the kid just can't do it? I can tell you from experience, over and over again with a variety of children, in every single case the child will end up doing an adequate job of really advanced accelerated material if you just stick with it. Complain or challenge me if this doesn't happen.  Is that the secret to GAT?  I personally think the secret is vocabulary + working memory + not answering the child's questions (after the age of 4), and surviving the initial start up period is unlocking the GAT gate.  What I mean by an adequate job is that a child of 5 mostly teaches themselves Every Day Math Grade 2 and mostly gets correct answer (after yet another startup period).  SSCC blatantly gears up for a cognitive skills test, but in my house the day after the first test is the day I present a clean copy of EDM so I built that in as well.

In the solutions to SSCC, I'm 'going deep'.  This is an education strategy where every child gets something challenging to work through or a question that they are nearly but not quite ready to answer without help or hints.   It's built into every question.  Is it enough just to get the child through 3 + 3?  Or, did they get 3 + 3 but not notice that there is something slightly wrong with the diagram or the question?  Can they group?  Then ask them to regroup.  I'm also going deep with coaching tips because I can't imagine someone investing in an expensive color book without planning a future of academic success at a high level for their child.

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