If you’ve been given a dyscalculia diagnosis, and this is all new to you – don’t fret. The only thing you have to know now is that learning math is going to take a few extra steps. But the treatment can often be more fun, and lead you to a greater appreciation of math than the dyscalculia diagnosis could ever have foretold.
The best dyscalculia treatment occurs when the parent, teacher, guardian or “helper” understands that learning math is a systematic process whether your brain likes it or not. People with dyscalculia need to know that and understand that learning math the typical way probably isn’t going to work.
When we wrote the Dyscalculia Toolkit, we did so with 30+ years of experience with math problem sufferers. From our experience, it is imperative that the student enjoy the process. There’s nothing worse than implementing a new dyscalculia treatment while fighting the brain and the will.
How can you help treat dyscalculia?
First and foremost you must know that repetition and rote memorization are invisible to the dyscalculia brain. For most who suffer, multiplying 63 x 5 forty-eight times isn’t going to help. An entirely new approach is what is needed.
Start by playing math games that incorporate the subtle learning of concepts and ideas. Use blocks or cards they can touch and even sing math songs. Any approach that involves a variety of senses will stimulate the brain and memory and result in a better math foundation.
Similar to the way Olympic coaches help athletes, use visualization to help students understand the math. Pictures, graphs, charts and even drawing the problems really do help. And don’t forget about reading math problems aloud as you learn. That’s a combination of eyes, ears, cognition, recognition, memory banks and remembering.
Since dyscalculia affects the way the brain processes numbers, you may have to go to extra lengths to illustrate common math problems. Using graph paper helps keep the numbers lined up. Removing excess information, photos and graphics from worksheets enables the student to focus with fewer mind distractions.
The most important part is patience and stamina. It will take a while to understand the process best suited to each individual’s brain. That may take years. Don’t give up because the brain won’t.
There are always ways to learn math, to have fun and to show the student that progress is being made. Grab a copy of our Dyscalculia Toolkit: How Singing, Playing Games and Having Fun can help defeat math disabilities.
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