At Symbols, we are able to tutor students in the areas of language arts and math. If a child is struggling with both areas, language arts is addressed first, because it is imperative that a child can read and write at grade level, but math is also addressed after they are steady in those areas. If math is the sole area where they are struggling, especially if they have dyscalculia, we can help.
What is dyscalculia?
Many people find math to be one of the more difficult subjects in school, but some people have a disorder that makes it even more challenging than the typical person struggling with it would find it. Dyscalculia is when a person has severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations, as a result of brain disorder. It is hard for people with this disorder to make sense of numbers and math concepts. Sometimes, a child will know what to do, but not understand why they are doing it. Or, they may know why they should do something, but when it comes to solving an actual assigned problem, aren’t sure how and when to apply their knowledge. Similar to dyslexia and dysgraphia, this condition can cause both lowered self-esteem and anxiety.
How will it affect your life?
Dyscalculia is not discussed nearly as much as the more common dyslexia or dysgraphia, which apply to reading and writing, but some researchers believe that it is almost as common. Dyscalculia can also expand to other areas in life. For example, math skills come into play with time and money management, and therefore, these things can be difficult for someone with dyslexia. It can be hard to keep track of how much time has passed, which makes sticking to a schedule difficult. In terms of money, it can be hard to follow a budget, to calculate a tip, or to count out change. For these reasons, dyscalculia is something that needs to be addressed early on, in order to avoid the potential future consequences.
How can we help?
Similar to how we teach reading and writing, math lessons are Orton-Gillingham based, one-to-one, and follow a multisensory approach. One method we use at Symbols to teach math is an invisible kinesthetic beat that goes with each digit’s symbol, connecting to its value. We use this because the transition from concrete to abstract mathematics is one that happens much too quickly for many students. When this is mastered, these invisible beats can be applied when adding or subtracting without even needing to see the number symbols! Our strategy is not dependent on any special visuals, so students become independent with applying this strategy in other learning environments very quickly and with no modification necessary. This is important, because as mentioned above, the effects of dyscalculia are seen in many different real-life situations, such as a restaurant or a grocery store. Using this method, we return to the concrete understanding for numbers, while also challenging the development of mental math skills. What we find is that we end up with students who can both participate in class, and (with practice and time) understand the processes and their connections much better than if less reliable strategies like finger-counting were encouraged. Contact us for more information about math tutoring.