In our last post we discussed Dyslexia. In this article we will continue our discussion of learning issues, focusing on Dyscalculia:
Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math. Children with dyscalculia may have difficulties recognizing numbers, understanding the relationship between the idea of the number (3) and how it exists in the world (3 pancakes, 3 chairs). They might have poor memory for numbers and an inability to organize objects in a logical way. As they get older they may have trouble with memorizing their multiplication tables, problem solving skills or understanding math vocabulary. They may also avoid games that require strategy to play. Adults who have dyscalculia may have trouble estimating the cost of bills, budgeting, and balancing their checkbooks. They might also have poor organizational skills and difficulty with managing their time, like sticking to a schedule or approximating how long a task can take.
The way dyscalculia presents can vary greatly from child to child. If a child has deficits in language processing, this can cause confusion about math terminology, difficulty following verbal explanations of math concepts, and a weak ability to monitor the steps of complex calculations.
If a child has issues with visual spatial relationships then it can be hard for children to visualize patterns or the steps involved in a math problems. (Retrieved from: http://www.ldonline.org/article/5896/)
Children with working memory issues may have difficulty remembering facts or the sequences of a math problem.
Children who have difficulty in learning fundamental math skills will have trouble moving forward and learning advanced math applications. This snowball effect is usually true of all LDs.
There are some simple interventions to help children with dysgraphia.
It is especially helpful when teaching math to know if your child is a visual or auditory learner. A visual learner will need pictures and diagrams to learn math concepts, instead of verbal explanations. An auditory learner needs to hear directions, while pictures and diagrams may confuse them.
This knowledge will help teachers present the math concepts in the best way for children to understand. A tutor can be helpful so children can get one-on-one help. They can then learn at their own pace and spend more time on the concepts that are hard for them.
The NCLD suggests the following learning strategies for a child with Dyscalculia:
o Use graph paper for students who have difficulty organizing ideas on paper.
o Work on finding different ways to approach math facts; i.e., instead of just memorizing the multiplication tables, explain that 8 x 2 = 16, so if 16 is doubled, 8 x 4 must = 32.
o Introduce new skills beginning with concrete examples and later moving to more abstract applications.
o For language difficulties, explain ideas and problems clearly and encourage students to ask questions as they work.
o Provide a place to work with few distractions and have pencils, erasers and other tools on hand as needed.
Exploring and understanding, Dsylexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia can help us understand why some children struggle in school. As we mentioned, Learning Disabilities present in each child in different ways. They can be subtle or more overt. To get to the bottom of your child’s issues it is valuable to get an outside educational evaluation.
Hadassa Meyers, MA
Director of Educational Services
Hadassa earned her Masters of Arts in Special education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1999. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Education with a concentration in early Childhood Education from Stern College, Yeshiva University.
Hadassa has a wealth of teaching experience ranging from general education to special education. Hadassa works the whole educational team in several ways:
Coordinating service plans for individual students
Mentoring classroom teachers, Title I instructors, and tutors on how to modify curricula for students varying needs
Consulting with parents and school administrators on how to best serve students in and out of the classroom.
Hadassa has been coordinating educational and related services at A+ Solutions for the past six years.