Fairhill students have a variety of learning differences. Language related disorders are the most common but students can also struggle with math. Some students may have a diagnosed math disorder called dyscalculia but others may struggle with math due to language or processing disorders. Dyscalculia interferes with the most basic skills and the development of numerical reasoning. It is connected to an inability to judge quantities. It is believed to be a disorder in the parietal lobe of the brain either from birth or as the result of a stroke. While there is no cure, students with dyscalculia can learn math.
Students with language processing disorders may also have difficulty solving basic math problems. Visual spatial difficulties can translate to difficulty in interpreting math symbols and in recording mathematical computations on paper in an organized manner. These visual spatial difficulties can be addressed in a variety of ways but often include a range of visual cuing strategies such as color coding, special paper, and manipulatives. These students may also have difficulty with the language of math which can impact the ability to interpret directions as well as the ability to understand word problems. Fairhill math teachers understand the importance of intentionally teaching mathematical language and weave language development into every math concept.
Whether our students are struggling with math due to dyscalculia, ADD or a language processing disorder, Fairhill addresses all with a multi-sensory approach. This multi-sensory approach is designed to engage all of the senses in the learning process. Teachers use a variety of models and manipulatives when introducing math concepts in order to help students visualize the concepts. Mathematical symbols are paired with concrete objects for beginning math skills as well as for developing algebra and geometry skills. Through the use of varied manipulatives, students have the opportunity to make math more meaningful than abstract symbols on a page. This approach helps them connect concrete models to the abstract, helping them to develop deep mathematical understanding rather than merely attempting to memorize facts, computational sequences and formulas.
Helping students improve their math skills gives them an opportunity to approach new learning with confidence. Confidence in their ability to learn math strengthens their ability to persevere when faced with more difficult content as they progress through higher levels of mathematics.
To learn more about dyscalculia:
Contributed by Carla Stanford, M.Ed., Executive Director, Fairhill School