Math Tips For Students With Attention and Focus Challenges – Part 2

Last week we posted some math tips for students that struggle with attention and focus issues.  This week we complete the series with part 2.

  • Keep Formulas and Facts Handy – Handy, referenced-sized multiplication and division tables that will fit in a student’s pencil case or backpack pocket are a great help. Allow their use it when a calculator is not permitted or is unavailable. This applies to formulas for higher-level math as well.
  • Clean Up Sloppy Work – Spacing and neatness are common challenges for kids with ADHD.  This can lead to “careless” errors.  Turning notebook paper sideways (with lines running vertically rather than horizontally) makes it easier for students to keep numbers aligned in columns and reduces errors.
  • Give Review Summaries for Exams – Review packets and summaries are helpful study aids for students with attention deficits.  The logic of “not telling” a student what will be on an exam breaks down when one considers that if an instructor considers material important enough to be test-worthy, it should be a no-brainer to tell a student “what” to study.
  • Give Extended Time on Tests and Require the Use of a Timer – Some students with ADHD have difficulty memorizing and retaining basic math facts. Allow students who can’t recall facts extra time to write them down, but do it while the student has an easy to see/read timer in front of him/her. This helps the student by giving him/her more time to recall while not keeping the student “in the dark” about how much time may be left to complete his/her work.
  • Use Computer Technology – Since many ADHD students struggle with recall, using computer games to drill and practice math skills on a regular basis can be very beneficial. Games provide immediate feedback, and are fun, non-threatening, and motivating to students. These games can also hold the interest of a student that struggles with attention and focus. Periodically adjusting the speed and level of difficulty of the game keeps kids on their toes.
  • Use a Calculator – Try using a calculator for classwork and homework. We’ve written about when to use calculators before and believe that the judicious use of them is important.  When a student has attention and focus issues, it is especially important to keep in mind that permitting a student to use a calculator allows him/her to focus on mastering concepts rather than struggling to remember math facts.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?  Let’s hear them.

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