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Choosing the Right Math Curriculum

Finding the Right Math Curriculum for your ADD/ADHD Learner

My son has ADD and struggled with learning since he entered kindergarten. I started homeschooling him in second grade and found that reading and math were next to impossible to make progress on. He wasn't retaining the information from week to week and it was difficult to get him to sit through even a 15-minute lesson.

For the parent who is homeschooling a child who suffers from ADD/ADHD, reading and math can provide challenging obstacles. The hallmarks of this disorder: an inability of the child to sit through lessons and difficulty concentrating on a subject for an extended length of time make learning especially difficult. A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD does not mean that your child can't learn, it just means that he or she will learn in different ways. This is why finding the right math curriculum for your ADD/ADHD learner is crucial to your child's success.

There are many challenges and frustrations that parents who home-school their ADD/ADHD learner face each day. However, despite these challenges, today more than ever before, parents have the tools to address their child’s special needs. Finding new and creative ways to teach old concepts can be challenging, but the Web is full of innovative ideas. Math is especially difficult because it requires extended amounts of concentration, memorization, and attention to detail. This is hard for a child who is unable to focus due to the many activities going on around him in a classroom environment. Long division requires extended lengths of attention and neat rows in order to be done correctly. Obviously, this is an extremely difficult task for the ADD/ADHD learner who struggles to concentrate and write numbers neatly.

Your ADD/ADHD Learner in the Classroom

In a classroom setting an ADD/ADHD learner may have even more trouble concentrating. A whisper and a giggle, a pen dropping or the loud noise of a student who is vigorously erasing a mistake are all distractions that pose a challenge to the ADD/ADHD learner who already has to put forth a great amount of energy to focus on his task without these added distractions. These challenges can make the classroom setting even more difficult for your learner and may result in aggressive behaviors. Because of this, some parents have chosen to home-school. Home-schooling is advantageous because it allows you to control the learning environment. There won't be the distractions of other children, and you'll be able to devote a space in a quiet area of your home for your child to work in. Another advantage is the fact that since you choose your math curriculum, you can cater it to meet your child's special needs. With the advantage of a quiet space to work in and an interesting math curriculum, math doesn’t have to be a stumbling block for your ADD/ADHD learner.

Of course there are challenges involved with homeschooling your ADD/ADHD learner. You have to be on the cutting edge of curriculum options and teaching methods. Especially with math, it is important that if your child is struggling, you find new ways to engage his interest. This will take research on your part, but it is well worth it if it means that your child begins to retain valuable mathematical concepts.

Finding the Right Math Curriculum

After three years of trial and error, there are two learning tools that have really helped my ADD/ADHD learner. The first is Right Start Math (http://www.alabacus.com). The lessons are short, usually lasting 20-30 minutes. It is interactive. Each lesson uses a manipulative such as an abacus, abacus tiles, blocks, place value cards and multiple games for teaching fractions, multiplication, division and geometry. It's ideal for ADD/ADHD learners because it allows them to play with the math learning tools. I purchased the program and my son’s reaction was, "Mom, I am going to hate it just like every other math you've tried!" But I knew something he didn't, this was really different. After a few lessons he stopped fighting to come to the math table! He is retaining the information and I can see a genuine interest to work with the math manipulatives.

The second learning tool that we utilize is a video game called Timez Attack. I did find that the automatic settings for how much time your child had to answer was too fast for my ADD learner because he requires more time to remember the answer, and was thrilled to find that I can adjust that speed by slowing it down enough that even he has time to answer before the bar runs out. This is an excellent add-on to any curriculum, but I have found it to be ideal for ADD/ADHD learners because it allows them to interact with the multiplication facts AND is adjustable for their learning needs.

Finding math support has been crucial to my son's success. Once you find the curriculum that unlocks your child's mind and gets him excited about learning you'll know you're on the right track. Don't be afraid to ask others for support. Parents and teachers of ADD/ADHD children will have learned, as I did, through trial and error what works best for our special learners. When others have learned through trial and error, you don't have to. You aren't the first parent to walk this path, and you won't be the last. Take advantage of what others have learned and you'll be setting yourself and your child up for educational success.

About the Author:

Michedolene Hogan lives in Yucaipa CA and has homeschooled her four youngest children for the past 5 years. She is the publisher of www.uniqueparenting.com and strives to help and encourage others.