Five Effective Math Teaching Strategies to Empower Students With ADHD

Do you have a student with ADHD? Finding effective teaching strategies for students with ADHD can be frustrating. Especially when it comes to math.

We’ve tried a textbook-based math program, and I watched my kids with ADHD struggle. I watched the frustration in their eyes as they struggled for a long time to read through the lesson. The desperate looks increased as they read and didn’t comprehend. I saw the slumped shoulders and heard the sigh of overwhelm when they turned the page to see forty math problems to work out.

Thankfully, because we homeschool, I could step in to help. I could explain and read and shorten the number of problems they had to complete. But finding a curriculum that incorporated effective math teaching strategies for my students with ADHD was a struggle.

Math and students with ADHD often don’t mix well. Too many times frustration and overwhelm ensue. But over the years I’ve found the math teaching strategies that work well for these students. And we’ve found a math curriculum that uses these strategies for teaching.

Math teaching strategies for students with ADHD

Disclosure: This post is sponsored. All opinions are always my own.

CTCMath’s online math program has been a lifesaver for me for my ADHD kids especially. Here are a few effective teaching strategies that can help your ADHD students with math…and how CTCMath can help.

Use a math curriculum that has a real teacher- not just a textbook.

Often a textbook- which can have page after page of words explaining a math concept- is overwhelming to a student with ADHD. Looking at a page of words and numbers and example problems can be confusing and frustrating. Even if the student begins to understand the concept, they can get bogged down. Especially because students with ADHD can also have reading comprehension difficulties.

Having an online math program that uses a real teacher in a video-based approach can be much more effective for a student with ADHD. A video with a teacher who is explaining and demonstrating the topic can be easier to understand. And when students can replay the video and rewatch the example problems, they have more opportunity to really grasp what is being taught.

CTCMath has worked well for us because of this. Pat Murray is a real math teacher and veteran homeschool dad who teaches students in their video-based maths program online. My ADHD kids can watch as he explains the concept in a video that uses his voice as well as information demonstrated on a white screen. He teaches the concept and then works on some example problems. And, if they struggled to understand the first time, they can rewatch the video as needed.

Incorporate a multi-sensory approach as an effective teaching strategy for students with ADHD.

One thing that I have found to work well as a teaching strategy for my students with ADHD is to present information in a variety of ways. If students can hear a concept, read about it, visually see it demonstrated, and then actively interact with it, they are more likely to understand and assimilate it. A textbook typically can’t do this very well. Instead, some type of online, interactive math program might be more effective.

CTCMath has provided this multi-sensory approach for my students. With CTCMath, my kids have the opportunity to watch a video. They hear the audio explanation. Problems are worked out as a visual demonstration. There is a PDF version of the explanation that they can read for themselves. And then they get the opportunity to interactively work problems on their own. This online math program presents the information to them in so many ways that they are much more likely to be able to understand the concept.

Find a math curriculum that teaches short lessons.

You can probably remember your math textbook from school- if you attended a traditional school. Each lesson was several pages of text. And then there were the problem sets to work. Often there were forty or more problems in the traditional textbooks that I remember and the textbook curriculum I’ve tried with my kids. Now imagine being a person who struggles with attention and can get easily distracted when there is too much information there. Traditional math textbooks and curriculum are often designed in a way that is totally overwhelming to our ADHD kids.

Kids with ADHD work better with shorter lessons. They need to be given one concept at a time. Only when that concept is demonstrated with mastery do they need to move on to another short lesson. They respond better to a math curriculum that is going to give short lessons and then just a few problems to work to demonstrate their knowledge. When the lessons are short, they don’t feel pressure to move on until they understand. And, if they do understand quickly, they can easily do more than one lesson in a day. Short lessons stop the overwhelm and provide more flexibility.

CTCMath curriculum

CTCMath is a math curriculum that uses short lessons to teach. The videos that kids watch- even in the high school lessons- are only a few minutes long. And the problems at the end of the lesson are enough to give kids practice without being so many to overwhelm (about ten for elementary and twenty to thirty for high school). And kids can work the problems with a printable worksheet or with an interactive segment that will present just one problem at a time to prevent the overwhelm of seeing so many problems at once. (You can see how short the lessons for CTCMath are with their free online math tutorials.)

Use a math curriculum that gives kids immediate feedback about their work.

It’s very frustrating for a child to complete a whole page of work and then bring it to me to be checked, only to realize that there was something they didn’t understand from the beginning and so the whole problem set is wrong. Working for an hour or more on problems and then finding out you wasted an hour because you didn’t understand something from the beginning is a crushing disappointment. And it’s no wonder that this can make our kids with ADHD not want to do any more work.

I’ve found that my ADHD students- and really all students!- benefit from immediate feedback. That allows them to know if they understood the concept or if they need to look at the whole lesson again. If they see that the first few problems they attempt are incorrect they can stop and reassess or ask for help.

With the CTCMath curriculum for math, kids know if an answer is correct as soon as they enter it. This helps them to know whether to move on or go back and try to understand the concept better. Our ADHD students are much less likely to get frustrated and give up when they are getting that immediate feedback.

Effective math teaching strategies for ADHD students

Check kids’ work regularly and often- an effective teaching strategy for any students with ADHD.

I have a confession. Because I homeschooled four kids- before the oldest two graduated- it’s been easy to neglect checking up on every child’s lessons as regularly as I should. To be honest, when we were using math textbooks and I had to grade every lesson there were times when it was a few days before I graded the lessons and gave them back to the child. This isn’t a great strategy for teaching any child. But it can be especially hard for our students with ADHD.

When kids are waiting days for me to follow up and check their work they can have totally forgotten a previous lesson by the time I’m checking in with them about that lesson. And it can be especially hard for them to move on successfully if I don’t check work regularly and frequently. I’ve had to be very deliberate about doing this- particularly with math.

Using CTCMath’s online math program has really helped me to stay on top of the kids’ work. With CTCMath I can log in any time and see exactly what lessons kids have been working on, how much time they’ve spent on math, and what their scores have been on the problem sets they’ve completed. I can even choose to get regular emails to show me the kids’ progress. This makes it easy for me to check up on their math work regularly and often. And this helps all of my kids to stay on track.

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Math can be a difficult subject- especially for our kids with ADHD. But these five effective math teaching strategies for students with ADHD can help. And CTCMath can become your new best math curriculum for homeschool.

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