As homeschool becomes more mainstream — whether due to the increase in children with disabilities, or the continuing squeeze on public school resources, or the push back to responsibility in education — it also becomes necessary to find curricula that suit particular childrens’ style of learning. Children with autism have specific requirements for order and predictability, that figure into their homeschool needs as well.
While some parents of children with autism choose to unschool their children, others desire to continue the child’s education in a way that suits that child’s specific needs. Unfortunately, in education or learning one size doesn’t fit all, and that is all the more true for children with autism.
Singapore Math is an internationally well-recognized math education resource. It’s requirements are are rigorous, but it is orderly and organized, with new concepts progressing logically from the last. It is these qualities of Singapore Math that make it ideal for many children with autism.
At the Gr. 1-6 school level, Singapore Math’s main homeschool curriculum consists of a student textbook, a parent/teacher book, and a workbook. The textbook is designed to explain concepts to children in ways that they can naturally understand, using manipulatives (which can also be purchased through Singapore Math) such as blocks, cards and coins to demonstrate those concepts. The textbook is illustrated and written in a logical manner that is perfect for children who need logic and order to their learning; the manipulatives are visual and concrete for children who have difficulty visualizing concepts on paper.
The student workbook follows the textbook, providing completed examples of each problem before providing problems that progress naturally from easier to more difficult problems in that same concept. The textbook lessons clearly refer to particular exercises in the workbook that demonstrate the concept presented in that lesson. The parent/teacher book is easily understandable as well, and provides parents serving as teachers of their children with concrete ways to demonstrate and teach the concepts to their children.
All of these qualities are particularly desirable in a curriculum for children with autism. The order, predictability and natural progression of the subject matter make it easy for children with autism to follow. The manipulatives provide a great visual aid, giving children and parents the ability to create concrete examples of sometimes-abstract concepts. The cost is reasonable: approximately $50 per set, with two sets available for each “grade.”
Before purchasing, it is recommended that the child take an “assessment” to determine with which book the child should begin. The child should be assessed using the lowest grade-level assessment that is reasonable for the child’s age and previous math skills, though it is recommended to start with the assessment that is one full grade below the child’s actual grade (if the child was previously schooled, or is on age-level for math skills).
You can find Singapore Math at www.singaporemath.com. This review is based upon the U.S. Standards edition, though for homeschool purposes there are not many differences with the CA Standards edition.