When Math Doesn’t Come Easily

When Math Doesn’t Come Easily By Kathy Kuhl

Specific learning difficulties in math can appear as trouble with remembering math
facts, understanding math concepts, understanding the language of mathematics, or
planning. Some things that look like disabilities in learning math are emotional blocks
from years of failure (pseudo-dyscalculia) or inadequate instruction. Other learning
disabilities can affect math performance: difficulty in reading memory, in processing
language, with visual-spatial relationships, or trouble following a sequence of steps.
To learn more, read:
• http://www.ldonline.org/indepth/math
• Brock and Fernette Eide, The Mislabeled Child, New York: Hyperion, 2006.
• Penny Chiappe and Stanislas Dehaene have researched math disabilities.
Tackling the Basics
• Work on your own attitude first.
• Work on your child’s attitude: praise perseverance, choose best time of day, limit
math facts drill to 5-10 minutes, daily, consider modest rewards, use untimed drills,
large print, give the context of the lessons.
• Drilling: Give the child several options each day: flash cards, 100 chart board game
with 10-sided dice, Wrap-Ups, Learning Palette, bouncing on mini-trampoline.
• Look at DianneCraft.com Right Brain Multiplication or Visual Number Cards
(addition) flashcards or Addition the Fun Way and Multiplication the Fun Way from
Better yet, you and your children can make up your own stories to recall the facts.
• Skip-counting is good preparation and review for multiplication. Skip-counting tapes:
Rap with the Facts, Audio Memory, Math-U-See, Multiplication Rock.
• FlashMaster is a handheld electronic tool for math drill. See Sonlightcurriculum.com
General Resources for Basic Math
• Marilyn Zecher was my instructor in multisensorymath.com/ Online or in Rockville,
MD, I recommend parents take Multisensory Math courses at http://www.asdec.org/
• Chris Woodin has excellent websites on teaching math, with tips and handouts:
Dyslexia, creativity and Woodin’s upcoming book at dyslexia.yale.edu/math.html
Teaching math concepts dyslexia.yale.edu/Edu_mathnamingproblems.html
• Use fraction circles http://donnayoung.org/math/fraction.htm and fraction bars
www.fractionbars.com/OrderInfo.htmlWhen Math Doesn’t Come Easily By Kathy Kuhl
Page 2 LearnDifferently.com
 2011 Kathy Kuhl, adapted from her book, Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner.
E-mail kathy@learndifferently.com
• Use memory aids, also called mnemonics. www.onlinemathlearning.com/mathmnemonics.html has a good list. www.ldonline.org/article/13717 explains principles
behind them.
• Cindy Neuschwander’s stories teach math concepts: Sir Cumference & the First
Round Table, Sir Cumference & the Dragon of Pi, etc.
• Build reasoning skills with Critical Thinking Books and Software criticalthinking.com
Hands-on math curricula
• RightStart Mathematics, makes K-3 curriculum and the Math Card Games Kit, a
versatile set of 300 math games in 1 box. http://www.ALabacus.com
• Math-U-See, Steve Demme’s K-12 series, mathusee.com
• Moving With Math is a K-8 curriculum, with lots of review using manipulatives.
They sell Unifix Cubes, Base 10 Blocks, Fraction Circles. movingwithmath.com
• Making Math Meaningful, by David Quine, Cornerstone Curriculum, K-6, plus
algebra, geometry. www.cornerstonecurriculum.com/Curriculum/MMM/MMM.htm
Resources for Consumer Math
Boy Scouts Personal Management merit badge pamphlet
Larry Burkett books: Money Matters for Kids and Money Matters for Teens.
Christine Field, Life Skills For Kids, chapter 8.
www.mymoney.gov, choosetosave.org, irs.gov
High School Math
• Harold Jacobs, Mathematics: A Human Endeavor. Also see his Elementary Algebra,
and Geometry, 3
edition. Reviewed at www.pahomeschoolers.com/jacobs.html
• Geometer’s Sketchpad. Software lets students “construct objects, figures, & diagrams
and explore their mathematical properties by dragging objects with the mouse.”
Curricula for algebra 1 & 2, geometry, pre-calculus, www.dynamicgeometry.com/
Video/computer classes:
• ALEKS online self-paced classes. Free 2 month trial www.aleks.com/webform/c240
• Watch demos on websites such as www.videotext.com/ and mathusee.com/
• Teaching Textbooks covers Math 4 through Pre-Calculus. Teaches use of graphing
calculators in its Algebra course. TeachingTextbooks.com (don’t forget the ‘s’)
For those with more severe difficulties
Semple Math, www.semplemath.com
DeAnna Horstmeier’s book series and related materials, Teaching Math to People with
Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners, woodbinehouse.com
Fun Stuff
Critical Thinking Books and Software, www.criticalthinking.com
Any book of M.C. Escher’s drawings is fun to see, try to copy, or take inspiration from.
Games and pattern blocks are available from Timberdoodle, www.timberdoodle.com

 2011 Kathy Kuhl, adapted from her book, Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner.

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