Math Curriculum Options
Math learning for many children with Down syndrome tends to take longer than reading. While not as much research exists on how children with Down syndrome learn math, the good news is that they can absolutely learn essential math skills with proper supports and repetition. Understanding a child with Down syndrome’s learning strengths and weaknesses helps with selecting and adapting a math program that best supports the child’s needs.
Math curriculum falls into two general types: Spiral and mastery. A spiral math curriculum offers constant review of all math topics throughout the year. Mastery programs, on the other hand, work through a single math topic, such as addition, until a child has thoroughly learned it, before moving on to the next topic, such as time. Most children with Down syndrome will benefit from a spiral math curriculum.
Another consideration for finding a good fit math program is the use of manipulatives and visual appeal of the textbook. As strong visual learners, children with Down syndrome benefit from hands-on learning that brings math learning alive. At the same time, as slow processors of information, these special learners need visually engaging – but uncluttered – workbook pages.
Understanding these basic principles opens the door for assessing math program options. While countless well known and well regarded homeschool math programs exist, there are pros and cons to each, when it comes to using it with a child with Down syndrome.
For example, Saxon Math is a popular spiral math homeschool curriculum. Taking a look at sample pages from the student books, however, reveal a layout and design that may be visually overwhelming for many children. Alternatively, Math-U-See is an equally popular visual and hands-on learning program. Part of its appeal is the lesson-by-lesson video instruction that teaches for the parent. The drawback, for families teaching children with Down syndrome, is that Math-U-See focuses on mastery learning, with a big emphasis on memorizing facts in the early years.
Depending on your child’s specific math learning needs – and how much you want to adapt the program – Math-U-See or Saxon could work for your family. Jump below for other math curricular options designed for special learning needs that are worth looking at.
- Numicon Math
Multi-sensory math program that uses a unique shape system to teach math fluency
- Shiller Math
Montessori-based program that incorporates singing and manipulative use
A real-word math program taught through DVD instruction
Supplemental program that uses multi-sensory techniques to reinforce computational skills