Working with Dyscalculia

Recognising Dyscalculia, Overcoming Barriers to Learning in Maths

reAH3_pack.jpgBy: Anne Henderson, Fil Came and Mel Brough

Review of Working with Dyscalculia by The Association of Teachers of Mathematics.

Review by: Julie Gibbon, The Gillford Centre PRU, Carlisle and Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, County Durham.


Don't be put off by the word Dyscalculia as either a condition applying to a mere handful of learners or as yet another label to excuse more failure in society.  This book raises awareness of the issues that many learners face when it comes to mathematics.  It has captured good practice and offers practical, inclusive strategies to help recognise and meet the individual needs of learners.  It includes photocopiable resources for use in professional development to enable this awareness and good practice to be shared.


After a brief overview of Dyscalculia and barriers to learning, Chapter 3 brings together information that focuses on the dyscalculic learner.  It has sections on the language of maths, including nine different meanings for the word 'right'; the fear of maths, which makes sure that the brain is not in a state for learning; factors within the learner - are they an inchworm or a grasshopper? - and factors with-out the learner such as the myriad of external issues that affect the learner from teaching styles to family support.  The chapter ends with summary lists to help teachers recognise dyscalculic students.


Assessment is the subject of the next section, which offers guidelines for both formal and informal approaches, assessment through teaching, assessing 'within child' factors and thinking and learning styles.  A checklist and an assessment report on a 13-year-old complete this informative chapter.


The training resource handouts to be found in chapter 7 complement these two chapters well with sheets covering the main concepts and additional information on what to look out for and how to help in the five main areas of assessing 'within child' factors.  Such as difficulties with memory in mathematics, or organisation and presentation of mathematics work.


The remaining chapters offer practical advice and support in the form of photocopiable resources for overcoming some of the difficulties faced by students when learning mathematics.  On the whole good, sound ideas are detailed although I did find the quality and approach in some of the seven sections a little disappointing. I was surprised that ATM's excellent Developing Number software was not included in the 20 software suggestions and that no mention was made of ATM's mathematical language poster set.  However the final section provides a very good handout for parents on how they can help their child.


This book is a valuable resource.  Every school should have a copy and all primary teachers, mathematics teachers and learning support staff should be encouraged to reflect on what it has to offer.


Working with Dyscalculia: Recognising Dyscalculia Overcoming Barriers to Learning in Maths - Anne Henderson, Fil Came and Mel Brough ISBN 0-9531-0552-0.


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