Today, Vikki Horner of Maths Extra tells us how her daughter Charlotte inspired her to start a business to help children with special needs.
My business is a labour of love
My daughter Charlotte has Down Syndrome and wasn’t ‘getting it’ in the classroom. So I developed a new method for learning how to tell the time, breaking the learning down into small steps, making it visual and hands-on.
Because it was so successful, other parents wanted to know what to do to help their child and so Maths Extra was born.
I designed a working kitchen clock which gives children a sense of movement. Then I put together a handbook full of photos and ideas, activities and games to help parents and teachers. The clock and handbook were named after Charlotte, of course!
Learning to Tell the Time with the Charlotte Clock
It took about a year for Charlotte to understand both digital and analogue formats as in “It’s 7.30” or “It’s half past seven.” Not only did she start to use ‘time’ vocabulary, her organisational skills really came on a pace at home and at school.
And Charlotte began to keep her room tidy! Everything in her drawers was organised and folded perfectly. Even her clothes that were ready for washing came down in a neatly folded pile.
Charlotte’s sense of her world increased by learning this crucial skill.
I had many challenges, even more so when I became a lone parent
Suddenly I had to deal with everything myself. Good job we didn’t have a dog too!
Working around my daughter’s schedules and needs was tricky and quite problematic especially during the long school holidays. Charlotte was making good progress with other subjects but maths has always been the biggest mountain to climb. I never gave up. I have always believed that my daughter should gain an understanding of basic maths so she could learn to tell the time and use money.
Children are expected to work with abstract concepts too soon – they cannot find a way in. It’s like we are asking them to decipher hieroglyphs and if parents were given a sheet most would not know how to access their meanings. Would you?
I tried every resource possible, or so it seemed! Everything was too abstract and nothing used in school helped Charlotte progress. It took a trip to New York to learn about the original invention designed to provide children with a structure in a multi-sensory manner – Stern Structural Arithmetic. Here we go! I knew I had found something that would really help.
Charlotte enjoyed learning maths this way and began to flourish
By then she was thirteen and had only three years left of formal education, however, at sixteen she passed GCSE’s at Entry level for Maths, English, Science, and food Studies, with Art GCSE. That’s my girl!
Then our emphasis turned to learning about money.
Where would I like to go next with my business?
Although I am passionate about helping children with special educational needs, I would like to see more nursery settings and schools introduce the children to learning with this system. This will give them a better start and our children with special needs will have the opportunity to work alongside their peers in an inclusive way. (I’m working on it!)
I set up the business because my experiences are not unique, there are many families experiencing the same things. I’ve ploughed through it all and come up with solutions that are worthy of passing on.
People just need to know where to find me, so a big thank you to Business Plus Baby!
You're welcome, Vikki! If you've enjoyed this article, why not sign up to Business Plus Baby's mailing list to get updates delivered to your inbox? See link at the top-right of this page.