Teaching Math to Students with Down Syndrome
Math achievements for students with Down syndrome often lag behind their growth in literacy skills. Consider, for example, teaching money concepts to special education students. This requires skills in sequencing, short-term memory, and mental calculations — all which can be stumbling blocks for individuals with Down syndrome.
Some of difficulties that these students face, though, can be addressed using specific strategies that cater to the learning strengths of children with Down syndrome. Let’s look at some specific activities that could improve your child or teen’s math success and find out what type of math curriculum might be most helpful.
Math Activities for Children with Down Syndrome
Children and teens with Down syndrome are usually visual learners. They also benefit from concrete, or “hands-on” learning to support the skills they are learning in mathematics. With those ideas in mind, here are some specific activities you can engage in with your student that may boost understanding and retention when building math knowledge.
- Keep a large, brightly-colored, number line handy. This can be used for the teaching of multiple numeric concepts including sequencing numbers, simple addition and subtraction, and matching numbers with the words that represent them.
- Use your child’s favorite small toys, figurines, or building blocks to enhance number learning. Grouping together multiples of these playthings while pointing to the number on the number line and also saying it aloud helps increase understanding and retention.
- Make math as meaningful as possible in everyday interactions. Even simple tasks like counting items as you add them to the grocery cart and counting and rolling coins make math learning more real to your student.
- If your child with Down syndrome doesn’t have sensory processing issues, he or she may benefit from a rice or sand bin for math practice. Bury geometric shapes that your student can search for and then name accordingly.
- Online math games are an excellent way to capitalize on your child’s visual learning strengths. Interactive number games not only focus on visual cues but keep children’s attention for longer than a traditional math lesson.
Many students with Down syndrome are visual learners. Find out if your child matches the description of a visual learner and discover techniques for teaching math that are effective for visual learners.
Teaching Math to Visual Learners
Choosing Math Curriculum for Down Syndrome Students
Learning math with Down syndrome doesn’t always require expensive tutors or therapies. Before going that route, you may want to try homeschool math programs that incorporate teaching techniques that align with the learning strengths of students with the disorder. Look for curricula that:
- Include visual strategies to teach or demonstrate how to solve math problems
- Provide varied opportunities to distinguish differences in size, shape and quantity
- Use multisensory game play to motivate and increase retention
- Doesn’t depend heavily on fine motor skills, such as handwriting
- Incorporates review along with introduction of new concepts
- Is flexible enough to be customized based on an individual student’s needs
How Time4Learning Math Helps Children with Down Syndrome
Homeschooling provides the freedom and flexibility to choose math resources for Down syndrome that best fit each child’s specific needs. Programs that highlight the learning strengths of their child while minimizing the weaknesses are a win/win for both parents and students.
In general, students with Down syndrome show strengths in visual-spatial tasks (the domain of the right hemisphere of the brain). Math programs that tap into the right hemisphere usually do so through humor, whole-to-part learning, music and rhythm, high-interest material, and visual presentations.
Time4Learning’s homeschool math curriculum offers many of these instructional methods. Our multimedia instruction and activities benefit students with Down syndrome by:
- Allowing students to visualize how to solve specific math problems
- Incorporating exploratory, hands-on activities in simulations so kids realize how math works in their everyday lives
- Offering varying grade level placement for different subjects (for example if your student excels in math but struggles in language arts, they can access different grade level material for each)
- Creating a safe, supportive environment for students to learn at their own pace
Not sure if Time4Learning is the best math curriculum for your child or teen? Explore some of our lesson demos.
Additional Resources for Homeschooling a Child with Down Syndrome
Have other questions about homeschooling your child with Down syndrome? You may find the following pages helpful.