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Help for a child who has difficulty learning maths


EngOZ
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I'm helping the child of a friend with maths. I've noticed that she finds math particularly challenging, but she seems ok with her reading. I've talked to her parents about the possibility of her having dyscalculia after another member on this forum suggested looking at Ronit Bird's site.

 

I see in her all of the same symptoms identified by Ronit Bird. We're going to try and get a professional assessment done, but it's hard to find help when the professionals that you talk to are clueless about what you're talking about.

 
In the meantime, I plan on ordering some of Ronit's resources to help her get a grip on maths.

 

Any suggestions moving forward? 

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SLD math is a normal thing to get diagnosed, and she shouldn't have a hard time, assuming she goes to a psychologist. Any psychologist who routinely screens for SLDs will be fine. 

 

I would not assume it's math SLD, even though the math is hard. Kids with ADHD will often have trouble learning their math facts or have trouble with reading or writing without it pushing all the way to an SLD. Again, that's where a psych is helpful to discriminate whether it's an SLD or maybe someone with low processing speed or low working memory or someone who's just going to need some extra time.

 

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She's 9 yo. 

 

Based on what OhElizabeth said, I've asked her parents to talk to the school counselor or pediatrician, and ask them to get a referal to see an Education Psychologist.

 

This young girl has recently been comming along twice a week to study with my girls. She enjoys the social interaction, and during our meeting I've been helping tutor her using Miquon Math. I've ordered some RS Games to go along with Miquon, particularly with cusineaire rods. I have decided that she really needs to go back to basics, like 1-2 digit addition/subtraction. She's also reading the Life of Fred books which she seems to really enjoy.

 

Now that I know more about her challenges, I'm not so sure whether to continue to help or stop altogether. At the moment I plan to continue with Miquon and play basic math games until we can get a formal diagnosis.

 

Am I wasting my time, or should we continue? I'm open to any and every suggestions at the moment. 

 

How old is the student?

 

Edited by EngOZ
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If you want to try Ronit Bird with her, get the Dots ebook. It's inexpensive way to see if it's a good fit. RB is going to be a MUCH more powerful tool than MUS or Miquon. It's more explicit and goes through every step in the number sense to make sure they really, really get it. It will be overkill or something kids without math SLD would just fly through.

 

Something is clearly up, but you aren't in a position to say what it is. She could be crunchy from ADHD, meaning almost any good math curriculum would work (miquon, MUS, RightStart) or it could be a math SLD, yes. 

 

I would not put my energy into LoF right now. I would focus on number sense and getting through the material in Dots (and the extension of those concepts) ASAP. If you apply Dots completely, the student will come out knowing solidly all their single digit addition and subtraction facts. If you then play Positive and Negative Turnovers using ante poker cards (cheap on ebay) using the instructions in RB's free games ebook, you'll have extended her add/subtr to +/- very naturally. Then you go into RB C-rods and go through place value extending it to more manipulatives, like the slavonic abacus, and 4+ digits.

 

Given her placement in MUS alpha, I'm assuming the child is struggling with basics like single digit addition/subtract. Ronit Bird Dots can be highly effective for that.

 

If the lessons get tedious, I would play games like Go Nuts or other simple games involving add/subt. They can be a positive way to end a session. Also, to get more hands-on and generalization and to hit other areas that are weak (or find strengths that can be more positive ways to work on skills!) I would break out occasionally and use those new skills with measuring. Just get a long measuring tape for sewing and start measuring. She can *estimate* how long she thinks it will be using alternative methods (how long is my hand, how many hands). She can *round* by saying it's "about" x units long. These are vital, vital skills for kids with math SLDs, because with their number sense issues they can have difficulty when the math gets into real life. It also lets you hit other areas of the standard curriculum, making her progress more even. 

 

You can do the same "about" exercises with time and temperature. About how long until our session ends? About what time is it? Try doing abouts to the nearest hour and half hour. When she has those solid, then do abouts to the nearest quarter hour. 

 

She should actually make a written request to the psych saying she suspects learning disabilities and requests an eval for her dc. If she does not make a WRITTEN REQUEST, she does not start the legal timeline. Without that, jack might get done. They might spend time asking the teacher what the teacher thinks or doing RTI. If she wants to protect her student legally and actually get anything DONE, she would be extremely wise to get the NOLO book on the IEP process and make a formal, written request. Date it, sign it, photocopy it, and give the original to the secretary at the school. That starts the legal timeline. Otherwise, well you don't want to know how ugly it can be.

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OP, I'm looking at your user name and cannot discern whether you are in the US or not. I have never used an Ed Psych for testing. My DS has been tested 3 times since he was 8yo, and we used PhD neuropsychs for a full educational evaluation. A WISC-IV IQ test and achievements tests were run. I've never required a ped referral for testing, and the best testers in area do not accept insurance because insurance pays so little.

 

When I finally cracked down and began addressing my son's dyscalculia, I started by reading a book by David Sousa titled How the Brain Learns Mathematics and two books by Ronit Bird. These students often have compromised working memory and processing speed, so require a slower pace. Stick with one concept as you teach. Severity of the SLD will affect outcomes. If you are willing to work with this student, I believe that is excellent. Be patient and encouraging. My DS is currently taking Geometry.

 

Since your student struggles with basic math facts, maybe work on subitizing activities, number sense, and teaching the 10s complements. The RB dot patterns e-book should get you started.

 

I love math and have never found one excellent math program, so I simply applied math teaching strategies picked up from Sousa and Bird to whatever math curriculum we were using at the time. DS has used manipulatives, flash cards, and math mnemonics for procedure. Good luck!

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Thanks for the input. I live in Australia. I'm planning on sticking with Miquon and RS Games until we get a clear diagnosis. The books you mentioned Heathermomster sounds interesting, and I'll dwell on those until I get some feedback from her parents. 

 

OhElizabeth she is progressing through with Miquon, and when I go through the problems with her she, is able to eventually do them. However, it's at level 1, way below her actual grade level at school (though I haven't gone back over the material or tested her?). I will try though, to get the dots book by Ronit Bird and see how she responds to them.

 

Edited by EngOZ
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