Parents can feel overwhelmed with building their child’s math skills at home. When you have a child who is visually impaired, there are unique challenges, and it may feel like only the "professionals" know how to teach math to your child.
Good news. You do not need to know braille, Nemeth (math code), or the UEB math code, and you do not have to own specialized equipment to assist your child with math. Here are a few tips to help you teach your child foundational math skills, meanwhile helping your child stay positive about math.
Tips to Help You Teach Your Visually Impaired Child Math Skills
Figure out how to motivate your child’s interest in math. Math instruction can be presented as play, especially for young children. If your child enjoys physical activity, count with them how many times they can jump or time how fast they can run. If your child enjoys cooking, count the number of eggs that make a dozen.
The use of manipulatives is helpful to students who are learning the basics to more advanced math skills. Many times you do not need to buy specialized or expensive items; you can use things found around the house. Your child can work on counting with one to one correspondence with toy cars, sorting with silverware, and fractions with a pizza.
Many children are motivated by technology, and there are apps that make it possible for children to practice their math skills independently. Here are a few apps that were created to be inclusive of students who are visually impaired:
Math Melodies by EveryWare Technologies
Math Robot by American Printing House for the Blind
Real objects provide children with visual impairment more meaningful experiences. When working with your child on money skills, it is important to use real money. Other examples would be the use of household objects when introducing three-dimensional objects such as a can to represent a cylinder.
Use downtime in the car or when waiting at the doctor’s office as an opportunity to practice math. Counting how many chairs are in the waiting room, asking simple word problems, or using those applications previously mentioned.
Let your child be your teacher. Kids love to play teacher and are amused when the parent makes mistakes. Older students may enjoy teaching you what they have learned in school.
There are many games you can play at home that work on math and logic skills. You can purchase these games adapted or adapt them yourself. UNO, Chess, Memory Games, and Go Fish are just a few.
Use real-life math opportunities to connect what your child is learning at school. If your child is learning to estimate, then have them estimate the cost of items on the grocery list, work on fractions when you are doubling one-fourth cup of flour in a recipe, or counting the number of plates needed at the table for dinner.
Work with your child’s team at school. It is important that you have a copy of the print book (or your preferred format) at home to assist your child with content. Check your child’s progress often and communicate concerns.
Most importantly, stay positive about math! Your words of encouragement will build your child’s confidence.
Education Resources for Children with Visual Impairments
Back to School: Educational Priorities for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Your Child’s Educational Team: Understanding and Working with Your Blind Child’s Teachers, Specialists, and Aides
Supporting Learning and Development in Children with Multiple Disabilities