The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences

I distinctly remember a math lesson from my sixth grade year.

We were learning about negative numbers and my poor little 11-year old brain was just not getting it. My teacher was kind. He tried to take some time with me individually. He gave me extra worksheets to practice at home and he encouraged me to keep trying.

When it came time for the end of the chapter test, I actually felt sick. A day later, he returned my test with a big C- on it and I remember thinking, “Well, at least that chapter is over. I still don’t get it, but at least I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences

More than anything else I learned in school, that fateful math lesson has informed so much of what I now do to teach my boys math. 


Because it taught me that children in school move on to the next chapter and the next, even if they don’t understand what they’ve been taught. It taught me that a passing grade or otherwise, is not always a reflection of how well a learner comprehends and applies learning. 

Most importantly, it taught me that a paper textbook, complete with math equations and timed tests is not always the best way to learn math. You see, I never did understand the concept of negative numbers until my mom taught me to balance a checkbook. Once she gave me something tangible and more hands-on, it all made sense. (Too bad it was four years of heartache in high school algebra later.)

The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences

Please know, although I was compensated for my time in writing this post, I only share programs that genuinely work best for my family. It is my hope that they will work for yours as well!

Finding The Right Math Program For Children With Dyscalculia and Other Learning Differences

Because both of my boys have various learning differences, it is essential that I find interactive and tangible lessons, especially in math. My youngest is both dyslexic and dysgraphic. Although he understands math concepts, writing answers to math problems and even reading the equations can sometimes feel impossible to him. Add to it his older brother’s profound dyscalculia, and you can understand my need for a comprehensive, yet unique approach to teaching math.

We tried Teaching Textbooks for the first time with both of my children this year. After eight months, I can honestly say that making the change to this online program made a significant difference in our homeschool math. 

The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences

The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences

When children have specific differences in processing speed, reading, writing and yes, math, finding a program that accommodates their needs can feel impossible. Because math is traditionally taught in a more formal, pencil to worksheet approach, children like my boys can quickly fall behind. 

Add to it their mom panicking and switching curriculum more than she probably should, and what you get are two frustrated learners and one discouraged parent. 

I think the best approach to math for children with learning differences is one that gives them access to the information in a different, less formal way with multiple, multi-sensory options for practice. 

The good news is, Teaching Textbooks has changed the math dynamic in our home completely this year. Here’s how:

Multi-Sensory Approach

All lessons are read aloud. (seriously – the entire lesson, even the numbers!)  This audio-math has made a significant difference in my youngest’s ability to progress through the learning. Moreover, the lessons are designed to be interactive, helping with attention and retention. Honestly, even the fact that he has to move his hands to type or use the mouse adds an element of multi-sensory learning that makes a significant difference in his ability to succeed.

Age Appropriate

My boys are teenagers now. Yes, they have differences that often place them in curriculum programs geared for much younger children, but that doesn’t mean they like it. In fact, nothing shuts down their openness to a new lesson faster than feeling like it’s geared for “babies.” Teaching Textbooks avoids this all together. The lessons have interesting animation that is mostly age-neutral. Plus, being online immediately gives them the impression of being more “adult.”

The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences


The teaching is interactive with immediate feedback. If a problem is missed, my child can try what he missed again, or if needed,  watch the program solve it for him. My youngest son absolutely loves this! Because of his reading delays, independent learning is not something he is able to often do. Now that he is older, he wants to go in his room and learn – not have his mom sitting right beside him all day. Teaching Textbooks meets his need for growing independence , while still maintaining learning objectives. 

Spiral Learning

 Spiral learning means that previously taught concepts are reviewed periodically, throughout the entire program.

Retaining what they’ve learned in math is something both of my children have struggled with for years. This has often led to frustration and avoidance. For example, if they weren’t able to remember what they learned a few months ago, they also couldn’t understand the new concept being layered in. With Teaching Textbooks, the program gently and frequently reviews what they’ve learned and allows them to continue to move forward.


We take our time with math. Whether because of other health concerns, or simply wanting to accommodate slow processing speeds, the truth is, we need to go slowly. Teaching Textbooks allows my boys to progress at a pace that makes sense for them. This flexibility is invaluable for our family’s learning needs!


The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences

For the first time in a long time, we will not be changing our math curriculum come next school year. I am happy to say that Teaching Textbooks simply works, and works well for my boys learning differences. 

I love that this program is actually easier for me, and works best for my learners, even when it was time to learn negative numbers!

Right now, Teaching Textbooks is offering a free trial – just in time for next year’s curriculum planning! This is an incredible offer – your first 15 lessons are FREE!!!

Keep Reading 

Math For Children With Learning Differences


Homeschooling A Child With Dyscalculia: Why Is Math So Hard?



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  1. We are using Math U See with my 9 year-old, until she can start the grade 3 TT. She is profoundly dyslexic. Can you recommend any other programs until she’s able to start TT?

    1. Yes! First off, for her age and dyslexic brain, I would do a ton of hands-on, game type of learning. https://my-little-poppies.com/gameschooling-math/
      We also used and really liked Shiller Math and Oak Meadow Math.
      Both progress at a pace that worked well for my son, and allowed more time for game type learning to be added in.

  2. We do play a lot of games! I can’t find many reviews for Shiller math. Have you used Math-U-See? How is Shiller different/better?

    1. Here is my review from a couple of years ago about Shiller. We used Math U See in the very beginning and found it was not a good fit for my youngest. Take a look at the video I included in the post – it shows the program and you can compare it to Math U See. I hope this helps!

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