In this piece, we will focus on the Dyscalculia part of dyslexia and the teaching method to help children who have it.
Dyscalculia means difficulty in comprehending Mathematics. A considerablenumber of Dyslexic children have this difficulty. It is the inability to remember verbally encoded math facts like additions, subtractions or multiplication tables. This difficulty can be severe. Dyslexics can actually struggle to learn math facts especially if they start out with a poor number concept.
In numeracy, one is actually supposed to see number structures, patterns and relationship but dyslexics do not easily grasp the logic of working with numbers. For them, it is so difficult to understand traditional math approaches and they are likely to struggle more with the pace of teaching within the new approach of numeracy strategy framework.
In teaching math to Dyslexics, the tutor must understand that many dyslexic math learners have poor memories for verbally encoded math facts. For instance the multiplication table fact should not be taught “by heart”; this is not good teaching practice. Instead multiplication table facts should be taught in understanding-based and strategy-based ways.
The first operation to learn in math is the oral counting techniques then you can move over to the basic counting development techniques which include mastering oral counting, perceiving patterns in the number system and counting concrete arrays of numbers accurately. Once the child has difficulty on this level, moving forward will be a big problem and no real progress will be made thus you have to help them get it right with a lot of encouragement, love and consideration to build their confidence. When teaching math to dyslexics, the tutors should ensure that they try to make sense of why whatever is taught should be so or is so.
It is also important that dyslexics are taught using multi-sensory techniques. The use of safe concrete objects such as toy bricks, straws and coins are advised.
The following are tips for parents or math tutors who work with children who have dyslexia or Dyscalculia:
- Encourage board games which involve counting, such as snakes and ladders, Ludo and other games where each player is expected to move and count. This helps master the counting technique. Snakes and ladders helps with the upwards and downwards counting concept, in front and behind concepts.
- When the children write numbers, let them start with their pencil at the top of the line
- Encourage the child to count backwards after mastering the forward counting
- Use concrete examples to count like sweets, toy bricks and money. Knowledge of money is a survival skill.
- Encourage the child to use rough workings out (and always supply paper for this)
- Encourage them to sing counting songs and make learning math a lot of fun.
The tutor can then introduce the teaching of counting in tens, making sure that tens are replaced with a different coloured counter so they stand out easily. After this, counting in fives can be introduced. Learning to count in tens and fives helps the child when it comes to multiplication and time telling skills.
The tutor should practice counting forward with the dyslexic until he/she can do it fluently then introduce counting backwards. This can be done by stairway climbing which can be fun for the child. Another exercise with the tutor or parent is to call out a number and have the child call out the following one. Note that the hardest numbers for the child to remember are usually where there is a change of tens as in 29 to 30.
Multiplication and division are the most difficult for a child with dyslexia to understand. It is easier to learn it when the concept is first understood and mastered and as such, care should be taken while teaching the introductory stage of multiplication and division. For instance, the tutor can collect five pairs of the same items and lay them in front of the child. Show him/her that there are two items in each pair then move on to explain that one pair has 2 items and 2 pairs has 4 items etc. When that is done, the child sees five pairs and automatically knows how many items are in 5 pairs which is ten items and giving explanation at every stage is very important.
The dyslexic child also benefits a lot from talking through math problems, saying them softly to himself/herself without disturbing others. This should be encouraged a great deal. This will employ auditory and visual memory abilities.
With the above, there is no doubt that the genius in the dyslexic child will be harnessed. Please never give up on them. All it takes is a little more patience with them and the desired result will be achieved.
Subsequently, we will discuss Dyspraxia and ADHD. We will also discuss new and interesting topics like Dyslexia & Examination and study skills.