As a kid we all memorized facts. We memorized math facts, spelling, history dates, and science terms. Flash cards were the name of the game and how fast you could do them was your bragging rights. Memorization is just part of learning and the purpose is to make things go a bit fast in our heads. Schooling a child with a disability memorization may not be in your cards. Memorization is tedious for even the most talented student. How much harder for a child who struggles with concepts and unable to express themselves?
My son was not getting math. He is 9 this year and we are still not past our first math book Alpha from the Math-U-See curriculum. I love Math-U-See for my kinetic learner. They go by concepts, not by grades (yay!), and there is a block set you can buy (and do buy it) to help with concepts. There is one noticeable difference: no flash cards. That wasn’t a problem for me because I had flash cards I used with my daughter. Here is where we ran into trouble. My son was not memorizing his facts fast enough. I was holding him back and not going on. Really, we should know all our 2 addition facts before going on to 3s. And so we continued our daily drudge of flash cards. Little by little he was remembering. What is smaller than baby steps and slower than a snails pace? That was us.
Near the end of the last school year I stopped the daily flash cards and just used the number blocks instead. Now my son uses the blocks to figure out his problems and we are on track to finishing the program this year and possibly going to the next stage. My son is so much happier and math is more enjoyable.
I know what you are thinking: what do I say to all those other people who ask why he can’t spit out a memorized fact? This is my response: don’t you use a calculator to figure out basic math? How many times do we as adults just reach for that calculator to do basic facts? What mathematician, engineer, or programer goes without a calculator of some sort? We all use a tool to help us with math. At this point my son is using number blocks as his help. As he learns more and works with his hands-on-help he is memorizing more facts. Step out of the schooling box with your children. The majority of kids with disabilities will not be pushed into that mold. This is your time to be creative, to explore new possibilities, and to grow as a parent as well.
May God give you patience and grace. Keep on trail blazing.