Help Your Child Learn Math: 
Tips for Success


Helping your child learn math will be much easier if you use the strategies that I explain in this article. Following these principles will go a long way to help her better understand this subject.

Concrete to Abstract

abacusAn abacus is great for showing children concrete examples of numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, and even multiplication and division.

You’ll want to start with concrete examples to help her understand abstract concepts.  What do I mean by that? 

Starting with the concrete involves giving children examples that they can touch, see or feel.  For example, if you’re teaching your child to count, you might start by counting objects.  Or if you are teaching addition, you could show her how to add three blocks to the two blocks she already has.

Then you can show her the addition equation, 2 + 3 = 5. The block example shows her that those numbers stand for a certain quantity of items.  Two items plus three items adds up to five items. This will help her understand exactly what that equation means.

Helping Your Child Apply Lessons to Other Situations

When teaching math or any other subject, it's important to use different kinds of examples to help her generalize these concepts. 

What do I mean by generalizing concepts? 

Children with autism will often have trouble applying what they have learned to other situations. For example, if they have learned with only blocks, they might think that addition equations apply only to blocks.

You want her to see that 2 + 3 = 5 applies to adding anything, not just blocks. 

So it's important to occasionally switch to counting or adding other items. You could use food items, such as pieces of fruit. Other possibilities include beads, toys, or an abacus, like the one pictured above.

Use Examples from Everyday Life

city shapesA picture like this can be used to help children recognize shapes.

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, you can always find something related to math.

Children can start to learn math early on if we talk to them about what we see around us.  Can you see a triangle on that building?  A rectangle?  Is there a circle in this room?

If you have five teddy bears and you share two of them with your brother, how many will you have left?

How many of each type of coin will I need to buy a candy bar?

Count how many beans are left on your plate.  When you eat two beans, how many are left?

Point out that the refrigerator is shaped like a rectangle.  Show him the oval-shaped dinner table.  And the square-shaped end table. 

When he builds a block tower, talk about which blocks are triangles, rectangles, squares, or parallelograms.

And every once in a while, you could pull out the flash cards or worksheet he’s been learning from.  Help him to connect the symbols on the page or flash cards with the objects he sees in front of him.

math quote

Keep Worksheets Free From Clutter

Kids with autism will often be overwhelmed when they see a ton of math problems on a worksheet or page. 

Try to keep it to just a few problems per page.  Experiment to see what works for your child.

My son does fine if I limit it to 12 equations per page.  If I want him to do more than that, I just add a second page.

Our Children Can Learn Math Successfully

Our kids can learn math if we are patient and persistent.

And don’t forget to give your child lots of encouragement as well.  Make sure you praise her for all her hard work and effort.

If you follow the guidelines we’ve discussed, your child can learn math with greater ease and success.

› Learning Math

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