Teaching Students with LD and ADHD

Need suggestions for math challenged 10 y.o. homeschooler.

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Joined: Oct 17, 2007
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Posted Oct 17, 2007 at 9:25:28 PM
Subject: Need suggestions for math challenged 10 y.o. homeschooler.

I'm homeschooling a 10 yr. old who has major difficulty in retaining math facts (she's a counter). We've tried various math programs to little avail. We're currently using Math-it and are making little progress. Any suggestions from homeschool moms/dads who have found a successful approach for their math challenged kids would be much appreciated.

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Joined Jul 11, 2005
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Posted:Oct 18, 2007 8:59:08 AM

While I don't homeschool except during the summer, I found that TouchMath (http://www.touchmath.com) worked really well for my dd. She couldn't retain math facts through any other means. TouchMath has a kinestetic component that has really helped her. She first tried it in 6th grade after many years of 1:1 math help. In 5 minutes she was able to pick up the addition, use it successfully and asked why nobody had taught her this before. Since then math is one of her favorite subjects.

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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Joined Jun 12, 2003
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I would suggest Math-U-See. It has a HUGE homeschool following (designed for homeschoolers) and has had proven success with children and teens with various disabilities. The web site is www.mathusee.com; you can order a free demo DVD, order materials, check out the program's philosophy, etc. There is also a link, in the top right hand corner, I believe, to join a Yahoo! chat group on math-u-see. I highly recommend doing that. Many of the parents there have children who struggle with math, and happily share what has worked. It is a very encouraging place as well as helpful group of people. The program is a complete math curriculum, going from K-12, and teens who have completed all or even most of it have, from the posting, done well on college placement tests. It is manipulative based and designed to be used at your child's pace, so if you need to "sit" on a lesson for a week or two, or three, or four, or longer, until your child has mastered it, that's perfect.

Good luck!

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Joined Jul 22, 2009
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Posted:Jul 22, 2009 7:05:47 PM

I have some strategies that have really worked with my learning disabled students in the same age group as your child. I recommend using several strategies that are multi-sensory. I am not personally a big fan of TouchMath because students don't memorize any facts. Fast retrieval takes the burden off of students in math problem-solving. Since multiplication is a foundation for so much other math, the more facts he or she learns by heart the more enabled she becomes for those other math processes, such as long division, reducing fractions, finding least common multiples, ratios and so on.

Please don't give up on helping your child memorize the facts, at least not yet. Just recognize it will take more strategies and more time. TouchMath can be taught if all else fails.

Here's the first strategy:

So your child can see the relationship of the facts in a particular table, have her build arrays for the fact she is working on. The trick is to set it up in a different way than the typical array. The number should always be displayed as pairs of dots, just one set, arranged vertically.

Here's an example for the 7s table:

• •
• •
• •

Children should learn to count sets of 7 using the dots for accuracy, going left to right rather than vertically.

Find the answers to the 7s by counting on, using the dots from the previous answer, and writing the answers down. (Supervise this until s/he learns to pick up counting at the number the last answer written.) Nine answers usually are plenty for most purposes, especially division.
7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63
Make it more multi-sensory by having her chant the answers to the sevens table after she's done that. Linking the auditory and visual input improves memory.

Next have your child number the multiples with the quantity of 7s that result in that answer.
7: x1, x2, x3, x4, x5, x6, x7, x8, x9
7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63

Now your child can use that and other tables he or she builds to multiply, divide, find equivalent fractions or least common multiples (when the curriculum gets to that, usually at 5th grade), and so forth.

(The number of times it took to get that multiplication answer is the division answer for the related division fact.)

The format is an essential tool. An array of dots paired vertically can make it easy to count by twos (for students able to do so). The same array turned horizontally fosters counting each dot individually instead. Putting the set of dots in just one row tends to result in more mistakes as students often miscount.

But that is just a beginning tool, an essential building block, but the ultimate goal is memorization for quick memory retrieval of as many facts as possible.

A couple of tips:

Early on, show your child a times table for one of the facts that is easy to learn by patterns, such as 11s and 10s. Help him/her discover the patterns. You can help the process by saying the problem aloud and emphasizing the key elements. You can highlight or color code the parts that will help her understand the pattern. It is encouraging to kids to find some of the tables are quick and easy to learn. Any table that has patterns to help your child learn them should be taught first to lighten the memorization burden.

Also, help your child discover that the answer is the same with the numbers in the reverse order. You can use multiplication charts for that, or analyze the answers for some of the tables your child builds using the vertically paired arrays. Discovering the relationship of the fact families helps lessen the memorization load.

Here's another tool:

Singing multiplication facts songs is a wonderful strategy - when paired with some of the other ones. Music is linked to the same part of the brain as long-term memory. Songs are easier to memorize than just reading aloud for most people. Chanting is similar to singing in its brain effects.

I recommend getting Suzy Red's CD: "Chalkboard Songs: Curriculum Songs Set to Folk Melodies!" (See http://suzyred.com. currently $15.95) I like hers because the students usually already know the tunes and so they only need to learn the new lyrics. I attended one of her workshops for teachers almost 25 years ago, and still find her songs very helpful for my students. (One note though: students older than 4th grade usually are reluctant to sing - especially in front of others.) Besides multiplication songs, the CD has 31 other songs including language arts and science songs. You can hear samples on her website. Suzy Red does workshops for homeschoolers as well as public educators, by the way.

Just remember to sing a new song through at least three times, and review the songs previously learned on a regular basis. Practice, practice, practice.

The nice part about the songs is that for most kids they add an element of fun to the learning process.

Now another strategy:

Practice a multiplication table with a deck of cards. (The great part about this one is that it doesn't require paper and pencil and gives plenty of repetition.)

Before starting, your child should look first at a times table chart with answers for a particular multiplication table and chant each fact aloud 3 times. (The chart should be one that shows the problem and the answers.) The combination of visual and auditory information and the repetition helps them prepare to practice the facts in random order with the card deck. (You could substitute singing a times table song for the chanting.) Beginners and those having trouble memorizing the facts should not skip this step.

Have your child pull out one card from a regular card deck for the times table they just studied. If s/he studied the sixes, she would pull out one six and lay it face up on the desk. That card is the multiplier. The student should hold the rest of the deck face down in one hand and flip one card face up, placing it by the multiplier. Learners multiply that card by the multiplier, saying the answer but not the problem aloud. (That’s just to make the practice go faster so they cover more facts in the time they have.) The next card flipped face up is stacked on the one flipped up before it.

Face cards are used too, but not jokers. Kings and queens are both counted as twelves, while jacks are elevens and aces are ones. Since dozens are important in real world math and in measurement (think feet and eggs or donuts), students need to know their facts through 12 X 12. Since there are four of each card, students get four opportunities to practice any given fact. If he or she had to look at the chart for the answer the first time he hit that fact, chances are excellent that by the time he gets to the third and fourth encounter with that fact he will know its answer. Since eight cards are counted as twelves (four kings and four queens), your child will get even more practice with twelves than with the other times tables. That’s good, because twelves are more difficult and he will need the extra practice.

As your child gets better with those facts he/she may no longer need to chant the table aloud three times each before practicing with the deck.

Last, don't forget timed tests:

Automaticity, or math fluency, with multiplication facts is a predictor for math success. Students who don't have many facts at an automatic level usually hate math. They also have difficulty learning math processes that depend on those facts because they get stuck trying to remember (or figure out) a fact answer and don't fully pay attention to the new learning.

Don't do them until your child has had plenty of practice with the other strategies above and is beginning to feel confident and successful with that. Give an extended time limit. A starting time limit for a fourth grader with a learning disability could be three or even four minutes for 60 problems, even longer if needed depending on your child's own processing speed and memory issues. Before you give a test, help your child access the part of their memory with one of the above strategies, singing or the card game for instance.

After each test has been checked, s/he can use the array method to correct mistakes so it becomes a learning opportunity. Also, have him chart the number right each time. With these techniques he should usually see an improvement each day.

In my school, because we know the research showing math fluency's importance to math achievement, we give automaticity tests 4-5 days a week for intermediate grades of students. Third graders have 30 problems, fourth graders have 60, and after the first quarter of the curriculum, half of the problems are division facts. Fifth graders move to formats that require them to supply some of the missing parts of the problem, such as 5 X ___ = 60 and 49 divided by ____ = 7. For whatever age, time is progressively decreased by a minute when they can beat the time.

Finally, I've got a lot of materials, including lyric sheets for those multiplication facts songs and color coded times tables so it's easier to spot patterns, as well as more tips that work, that I'm very willing to share. Contact me here and I can give you more contact information so that can be emailed. I'm new to this website but it doesn't appear that I can attach that type of thing here.

[Modified by: SusanR on July 27, 2009 09:47 PM]

[Modified by: SusanR on July 27, 2009 09:54 PM]

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