Math Struggles Math Part 2 – Dyscalculia?

By: Ann Wittman, Math Specialist

Dyscalculia is a broad term, a misunderstood term, and a misused term. I personally think of it as truly not understanding numbers, their order, their meaning, and how manipulating them works. I had one little girl come in who when asked if she knew what the number 95 meant said, “no”. This little girl was VERY intelligent; she just didn’t understand numbers. In three months we went from “What is 95?” to adding with regrouping (carrying), subtracting with decomposing (borrowing), and multiplying!

Sometimes our students come to us with holes. They’ve been doing well in math, but one or two items trip them up such as adding and subtracting negative and positive numbers, decimal numbers, or pre-algebra. We have a unique way of teaching these subjects. I was a math teacher before coming to Dyslexia Reading Connection and trying to get kids to understand adding and subtracting negative and positive numbers was a daunting task that I must admit, I never felt I mastered. Then I learned the strategies that Rock Solid Math uses…wow, what a difference! I recently had a mom tell me that during virtual learning (due to COVID-19) her youngest son admitted he was struggling with this concept. His older brother said, “Let me show you how Mrs. Wittman taught me” (which was 5 years ago)! The younger brother no longer has a problem with positive and negative numbers.

With our multi-sensory approach to math, our objective is to help our students not only learn how to be successful in math, but also to understand it. We take a gentle approach, use a lot of hands-on tools (affectionately called “math toys”), employ math games, and try to make math fun. This approach has worked for so many students over the years which, as tutors, makes us love our jobs even more!