5 Tips for Teaching Math to Kids with ADHD

May 6, 2019

Annette Breedlove

Annette Breedlove

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I have never been one for labels. We believe have several children on the spectrum (by observing their habits and behaviors), but no official diagnosis. For now I am okay with that. I have done the research and we have found ways to help them deal with the stresses of life as well as their school work.

It isn’t always easy to recognize the triggers and help them find a solution, but I can say it has always been worth it. In fact, it is one of the main reasons we started and continue homeschooling. Just because they may have some learning struggles doesn’t mean they can’t be taught or learn at high levels.

One of those stereotypes surrounds kids with ADHD. Teaching children with ADHD can be difficult. Everything is a distraction and maintaining proper focus is rare. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. 

5 tips for teaching math to kids with ADHD


It is true that children with ADHD can be a bit more difficult to teach, but one area I usually see them struggle the most is math. Staying focused long enough to learn long division can be hard for anyone, but especially a child with ADHD.

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However, over the last three years our family has found a program that works and has helped each of our kids in different ways. It has literally been life-changing in our homeschool! If you’re looking for a wonderful curriculum and ways to help your ADHD child in math, check out these tips!

Less is More

ADHD means the child is extremely likely to lose focus after a short amount of time. Because of this, try assigning more meaningful work, rather than a lot of work just for the sake of practice. You’ll know when they understand a subject, giving busywork will only cause them to retain less. It is better to learn and retain 5 things slowly than it is to “learn” 10 things quickly but only retain 3.

CTCMath Solution: CTCMath does an amazing job of dividing up lessons into bite-size pieces. The “lectures” are roughly 5-7 minutes long, which is the perfect time span for an ADHD child. They are visually stimulating also, so it holds their attention easily. And you can set their question limit in the settings. We do 10 questions per lesson, but you can choose up to 30 per lesson.

Immediate Grading

As soon as an assignment is completed, grade it and review it immediately. Any extra time between the material and the result can make it more difficult for them to go back in their memory and improve. By grading immediately, you can review the material that they struggled with while it is still fresh in their heads.

CTCMath Solution: Grading was the most difficult part of math for me to maintain with our oldest. CTCMath automatically grades each question as they answer and gives the correct answer if incorrect. This gives me the chance to go over their answers with them as they complete the assignment. It also keeps their grades in their profile for the duration of your membership. This is very helpful to look back and see where they struggled and where they excelled. We also set a minimum passing grade per assignment, so if they don’t receive it, they must answer more questions to pass the lesson.

Routine is Key

It is important to keep to a set routine, and not deviate unless absolutely necessary. Due to the ease of distraction, keeping a set routine means children with ADHD will be able to stay grounded and focused as they can anticipate the lesson. When we shake things up, their ADHD can take over and have them itching to jump to something new before the current lesson is complete.

CTCMath Solution: Since this curriculum is pre-recorded and web-based, they will know exactly what to expect each time they log in. This has been the biggest asset for my own children. They love knowing they only watch a short lesson and then complete the set number of problems. They can mentally prepare and be ready to focus for that length of time knowing the end is coming. The consistency has made a world of difference in our daily math time.

Don’t Rush

ADHD can make it harder to learn, as it can slow down progress and assignments. However, this is not always a bad thing. Remember, the important thing is that they learn the material, not that they break records with how fast things are done. It’s perfectly okay to slow down and let them learn at a more natural pace for them individually. The beauty of homeschooling is tailoring your curriculum and learning environment to the child. Everyone learns differently, so forcing lessons on a child who is already struggling to keep up, won’t get you anywhere.

CTCMath Solution: With the web-based format, students can pause, rewind and re-watch entire lessons at will. It is so easy to do and offers unlimited playbacks without the frustration a teacher (or parent) might feel. Giving them more time to digest the information or do a few problems and then re-watch the lesson if needed, is such a wonderful aspect of this curriculum.

Leaves little room for error

Most people see ADHD children as wild and unruly, when in fact that is only part of it. They have so much energy related to the stimuli around them they don’t know how to process it all. However, when faced with a problem (as in math), they often give little room for error. They want so badly to be perfect that it stresses them out that much more. Help for this comes in many forms – writing out their math problems so they can focus better or helping them reread word problems over and over until they understand it. It can be difficult and frustrating for both teacher/parent and child.

CTCMath Solution: Because CTCMath is all online, there is less room for error. Students do not need to copy problems from the site to a piece of paper, thus increasing the risk of writing a wrong number. And there is no time limit on lessons, so they can take their time to answer the questions. Many of the upper grade levels have printable worksheets with the problems already typed out, so they don’t need to worry about those either.

math learning online program

Recently my 4th graders were going through multiplication without carrying. I will be honest, I was worried they wouldn’t catch on, but because of the format CTCMath has created, it literally walks them through the steps, even in their questions!

math learning online program

It walks them through each step and requires them to answer each line before moving to the next. It checks each line as they go and corrects them when its wrong, so they don’t miss everything.

math learning online program

I have to be honest, I was really worried about this part of multiplication. But truthfully it was so much smoother than I imagined all because of the format and programming of CTCMath. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed at how quickly my kids picked it up.

It is no secret that CTCMath is our favorite math curriculum and one I see our family using for years to come. I have seen such a difference in my reluctant learners.

From dreading math lessons to politely coming over and doing them without fuss, most of the time. And my children that have a knack for math are excelling far beyond what I ever imagined. It has challenged them to do more and push harder than I could have done with a traditional curriculum.

Whether you have a child struggling in math, one that needs a little more structure or one that excels, we believe CTCMath is a wonderful choice.

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5 tips for teaching math to kids with ADHD

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