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Saturday, June 2, 2012

How to Teach and Work with Children with Dyscalculia using alternative learning methods?

Students with learning disabilities are a challenge for educators as these children need individual attention, alternative learning styles and strategies to achieve success. 4 to 6 percent of all students classified as having specific learning disabilities in schools. Dyscalculia is one of those learning disabilities among children.

Dyscalculia is also called math disability as it involves innate difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic. It includes difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, learning maths facts, and a number of other related symptoms.

Having a learning disability does not mean being unable to learn. It does mean that the person will have to use adaptive methods to process information so that learning can be accomplished. Recent research studies tells us that we can teach these students and put into a position to compete. Using alternate learning methods, people with dyscalculia can achieve success.

Success for these students requires a focus on individual achievement, individual progress, and individual learning. Although math learning difficulties occur in children with low IQ dyscalculia occurs in people across the whole IQ range, and sufferers often, but not always, also have difficulties with time, measurement, and spatial reasoning.


Two major areas of weakness can contribute to math learning disabilities:
  1. Visual-spatial difficulties, which result in a person having trouble processing what the eye sees 
  2. Language processing difficulties, which result in a person having trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hear.
Helping a student identify his/her strengths and weaknesses is the first step to getting help.

How is teach and work with Dyscalculia childrens?
Parents, teachers and other educators can work together to establish strategies that will help the student learn math more effectively. Help outside the classroom lets a student and tutor focus specifically on the difficulties that student is having, taking pressure off moving to new topics too quickly. Repeated reinforcement and specific practice of straightforward ideas can make understanding easier.

Alternative learning methods:
  • Allow use of fingers and scratch paper
  • Practice estimating as a way to begin solving math problems.
  • Use diagrams and draw math concepts
  • Provide peer assistance
  • Use of graph paper for students who have difficulty organizing ideas on paper.
  • Use of colored pencils to differentiate problems
  • Work with manipulative
  • Draw pictures of word problems
  • Use mnemonic devices to learn steps of a math concept
  • Use rhythm and music to teach math facts and to set steps to a beat
  • Schedule computer time for the student for drill and practice
  • For language difficulties, explain ideas and problems clearly and encourage students to ask questions as they work.
Help students become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding how a person learns best is a big step in achieving academic success and confidence.

'Learning Disabilities Association' 
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