November 2017 Subscribe to the Struggling Learner newsletter >>
Homeschooling a Child with a Nonverbal Learning Disability | Part 1: Math
by Joyce Blankenship
I recently spoke with a parent who was giving me some feedback on our June newsletter, in which we introduced you to the world of the children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NLD).
As I learned from this mom, although that article was beneficial in helping her to understand her child and the challenges she faced, she had more questions. “How do I teach my child math or handwriting?” she asked. “What are the best types of resources to use to help my child understand what she reads?”
I realized what this mom needed, and perhaps what many of you need: practical tools and guidance so that she could be successful in teaching her child with NLD at home.
Over the next three newsletters, we will focus on practical educational interventions that parents have found to be helpful for kids with NLD. These strategies will be broken down into three main academic areas: math, reading comprehension, and handwriting.
(Keep in mind that any of these teaching methods and resources can be used for students who may not have been diagnosed with NLD but nevertheless exhibit some of the same learning patterns.)
Harnessing Strengths to Overcome Weaknesses
Math is often taught through part-to-whole picture concepts, thus involving significant right brain activity. For example, addition is a mental operation of “seeing” sets of things put together. The ability to visualize, however, is an area of weakness in a child with NLD, so these kids often experience agony when learning mathematics.
In elementary school, kids with NLD can struggle with the spatial demands of lining up numbers and putting them in columns. They may confuse the meanings of math signs. They may also over-rely on rote memory by memorizing math facts and rules without grasping the why of math. As they mature, they have difficulty understanding fractions, decimals, visual word problems, and geometric concepts of size and shape.
So how can you help your child or teen with NLD improve his or her understanding of math? Here are some suggestions.
We hope you find these ideas beneficial as you help your children gain a deeper understanding of math concepts. Keep an eye out for next month’s newsletter, where we’ll cover a second main academic area that children with NLD struggle with: reading comprehension.
Math Resources for Children with NLD
On Cloud Nine: Designed to go along with the Visualizing and Verbalizing program, this program develops the ability to image and verbalize math concepts and processes.
Key to … math curriculum: This is a series of workbooks that focus on one math concept at a time; pages are black and white and visually uncluttered.
Ronit Bird math materials: Ronit believes that we should be teaching for understanding in a hands-on multisensory way, not through rote-learning. Her books stress working with concrete and visual materials in order to explore numbers and the relationships between numbers.
Games for Math: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn Math, From Kindergarten to Third Grade by Peggy Kaye: This book contains short lessons to build fundamental math concepts using fun games and activities.
It’s Elementary by M.J. Owen: This reliable method for analyzing and solving math word problems teaches students to identify key words, draw pictures, and disregard unnecessary information. It covers addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.