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How can we support learners with Dyscalculia and Dyslexia

How can we support learners with dyscalculia?

Maths is a hierarchical subject where topics are revisited at a more and more complex level. Therefore, if early concepts have not been understood, this will impact on later learning.

In early learning, children should not just be taught the digit symbol and the name but also form an internal visual representation of that number, in other words ‘see’ the number as a dice pattern or numicon tile. This helps establish a good understanding of the relationship between the name of the number, the symbol and its magnitude or size. Children then need to develop flexibility of number and know how numbers are made up, for example, 6 can be;

  • 4 + 2

  • Double 3

  • 5 + 1

  • 7 – 1

This is equivalent to being able to match letters to sounds when learning to read. Thereafter all concepts need to be modelled using concrete materials such as Cuisenaire rods, dice patterns, Dienes apparatus and similar.

The main cause of failure in maths is when the symbols have no meaning and children are taught in a procedural way, not understanding what they are doing and therefore not being able to remember the procedure or having the confidence to look for different ways to solve the problems. We also need to be careful to use maths language correctly and ensure that its meaning is understood.

Good sources of information:

  • maths explained

  • Ronit Bird Video

  • Emerson, J. & Babtie, P. (2015) Understanding Dyscalculia and Numeracy Difficulties. London: Jessica Kingsley

  • Hornigold, J. (2015) Dyscalculia Pocket Book. Winchester: Teacher’s Pocket Books

  • Hornigold, J. (2017) Understanding Learning Difficulties in Maths: Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or

  • Dyspraia. London: McGraw-Hill

  • Ronit Bird – Workbooks and ebooks, Moorcraft Paul (2014) It Just Doesn’t Add up. St Albans: Tarquin

Reasonable Adjustments

Dyslexia can have a substantial and long term adverse effect on normal day to day activities, and is therefore a recognised disability under the Equality Act 2010. The Act states that schools and higher education institutions have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students (this includes students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia). The duty to make reasonable adjustments requires a school to take positive steps to ensure that pupils with additional needs can fully participate in the education provided by the school, and that they can enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services that the school provides for pupils. Often reasonable adjustments are minor changes and don't have to involved costly materials or additional staff time. Small considered changes can have a big impact on a student's education.

Examples of reasonable adjustments:

  • Offer alternatives to writing as a key method of recording

  • Provide handouts that contain the learning points rather than asking pupils to copy text from the whiteboard or take notes

  • Repeat instructions/information and check for understanding of tasks

  • Use a visual timetable with colour coding and symbols

  • Alter format options onscreen on an interactive whiteboard

  • Encourage peer support to record homework tasks in the planner

  • Provide access to assistive technology such as a computer, for pupils who find it difficult to read large amounts of text or to write quickly enough in class

  • Use multisensory ways of teaching.

  • Allow time to respond as many dyslexic students are slower to process information Break information up into smaller 'chunks'. These simple changes can benef

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