Attack skills, and a freebie

“Smart kids” tend to be held on a pedestal, and we overlook or misdiagnose their struggles. If they’re smart, they should be able to figure it out! And if they don’t, they’re lazy. 

Simply not true.

I don’t like the “smart kids” label, but that’s for another day.

An important detail I’ve learned about working with gifted kids is that they frequently lack attack skills.

What that means is: as toddlers and young kids, the things they need to learn and to figure out they pick up on very quickly, which leaves them without the skills for how to figure out how to solve a problem.

So they look at a problem too complex for them just to know the answer and quickly give up on it because they have no context for figuring out what to do. 

They’ve never had to figure it out. They’ve always just looked at it and known the answer.

It’s not that they can’t do the work to solve the problem—it’s that they don’t know what the work is that they need to do, so they either give up or guess (which really are variations on a theme).

One way I’ve discovered recently to help Rocket Kid with attack skills is through Nerdle. It’s a game like Wordle, but it’s math. 

How it works:

You have the digits zero through nine, the four basic math operations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) and an equals sign.

You have nine boxes to create a mathematically correct equation. The answer is a number—there’s not equations on both sides.

Once you enter an equation, it tells you which boxes are filled correctly, which have the correct filling but in the wrong place, and which are not in use for today’s puzzle.

I love it.

I made and printed a sheet so Rocket Kid can work through them on paper, as the web form only allows the boxes to be filled left to right. We work through them together, talking out loud through what next guess might make sense or why we might intentionally leave out a piece that we know should be there.

The whole thing only takes a few minutes, there’s only one available each day, we work on something fun together, and it’s helping him with attack skills.

That’s a lot of win in one place.

If you’d like a pdf of the sheet I made to use for yourself or your kids or students or whomever (unlimited use), click here, enter your email address, and your confirmation email will have a link to download. (Check your spam—that email often ends up in spam.)

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