Students with ADHD often struggle with math assignments because these tasks must incorporate reading and writing skills and, additionally, math concepts build on prior knowledge. Students need to remember and access information they’ve previously learned. Many students have difficulty recalling basic math facts—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The following are some accommodations to address math assignments:
- Highlighting: Highlight key words and key concepts. It is easy for students to miss the key information, either in a problem or in the directions. Highlighting key words helps them remember and easily refer back to what they need to do.
- Preprinted math problems: Provide students with worksheets that have the problems already written on them. When students with ADHD copy problems from the board or a book, they may copy some problems down incorrectly. Giving the student a handout of the information avoids this problem.
- Manipulatives: Provide the student with manipulatives. Manipulatives give students an opportunity to use concrete objects to practice math concepts. The objects provide more engagement, which helps students stay more connected to the assignment.
- Limit the need for showing work: Require students to “show work” on only a few problems. Showing work on math problems increases the length of time necessary to complete the problem and makes them more tedious. To measure understanding of a concept, you can have students show work for the first third of the assignment and then only write answers for the remainder.
- Extra space: Leave plenty of space on worksheets for students to solve the problems. It can be a challenge to organize and fit answers into small spaces and make it neat. Providing extra space or using paper with built-in alignment, such as graph paper, helps students set up and solve problems.
- Avoid speed: Students with ADHD may have trouble shifting attention between tasks but are able to focus deeply on problems that interest them. They may need time to immerse themselves and may perform poorly on speed tests.
- Tools to focus on concepts rather than on memory: Allow students to use a calculator, chart of math facts, or computer software. Calculators or math fact charts enable students to learn more advanced math concepts without having to worry about their memory skills failing them. Software programs and games automatically move a student from one problem to the next. As soon as one question is answered, the next one appears. Typing can also assist students who struggle with the multi-tasking necessary for handwriting.
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