Dyslexic and dyscalculia learners may well have difficulties with counting objects and it is important that from the very earliest years that they are given clear instructions on how to count and plenty of practice with counting.
The best way to do this is to employ a multi-sensory approach, with counting real objects in front of them, counting sounds, counting touches etc. To begin with sit down with them and count with them. They should be able to pick objects up and move them to a different place whilst counting. Take time to look at a set of objects so that they can see what 5 looks like and that 5 objects can be arranged in a variety of ways, but still be 5. Don’t try to count too many objects at once, keep to numbers up to 5. Use the world around you to also count things, the number of horses in a field, prams in a play area, forks on the table and don’t forget the dominoes; I am sure that you can find plenty of other counting opportunities.
The URBrainy worksheets are an ideal support for this, helping children to count and learn to read and write the numbers from 1 to 5 and then from 0 to 10; and remember to use the Number Rhymes which are all to do with counting and memorising numbers up to 10.
Another great way to reinforce counting objects up to 10 is to use the URBrainy Counting Games, such as Counting Goats.
Once children are counting above ten they come across more of the inconsistencies in our language which most of us are unaware of but for dyslexic children make learning so difficult.
One example of this is how we say the teen numbers. When we write 13 in digits we write the ten first and then the units, which is absolutely correct. But when we write it in words, thirteen (three ten) we reverse the order. We should really say tenthree. Carefully explaining these anomalies can help children with their understanding.
Of course, counting from 1 to 5 is usually the very first sequence of numbers that children learn. But there are many other sequences children need to know and dyscalculia learners often find sequencing tricky. They may be slow to learn a sequence and find counting back much harder than counting on. They will need plenty of practice at counting back. Again, this can be done with practical objects. Have a tray with 5 sweets on, start with saying the number 5, take one off, say 4 etc.
Having confidence with counting back from 10 to 1 will help enormously later when trying to count down in tenths from 1 to 0 (eg 1.0, 0.9, 0.8 etc).
The URBrainy worksheets on number lines are a great help with sequencing small numbers.
3. Place value
Dyslexic and dyscalculia learners often find difficulty with place value. Writing numbers such as five hundred and forty six in digits may result in something like 500406.
A 100 number grid may seem obvious to us, with each set of ten numbers across the grid, but for many this is difficult to process. Again, lots and lots of practical work is the best way forward and an abacus is often better than a number square as it can be touched and the discs representing the digits can be moved. If a child really understands what happens when we count past 10 then they will have a much better chance of understanding larger numbers, so don’t be tempted to rush on to working with large numbers as there is little to gain and potentially a lot to lose.
If there was ever an area of maths which is going to prove difficult for dyscalculia learners then fractions must be high on the list. For example, having spent a long time getting children to understand that 30 is ten times as big as 3, we then tell them that 1/3 is larger than 1/30.
Another problem is that the same amount can be represented using different numbers, ½ is equivalent to 2/4 or 4/8 etc. Understanding equivalence is a must, and much time needs to be spent with this concept, using practical situations wherever possible. Eg cutting an apple into half and then into quarters etc.
Decimal fractions can also be the cause of problems with the columns either side of the decimal point being named in opposite directions. Whole numbers sequence to the left as units, tens hundreds etc whilst decimals sequence to the right as tenths, hundredths etc. Writing HTU at the top of columns seems rather old fashioned, but it can be a great help. Lower case for decimals; t, h and th.
Read More: Dyslexia and Dyscalculia: Part 3Try URBrainy