By Tony Attwood C.Ed., B.A., M.Phil (Lond) F.Inst.A.M.
The issue of arranging a training programme for teachers who find themselves working with pupils or students who may well be dyscalculic is one that has faced the Dyscalculia Centre from the moment it was launched.
We realised early on that the traditional approach of running courses for teachers would be something that would involve schools in significant costs – especially if we were to run the events in different parts of the UK. Worse, such courses would involve those involved in taking time out of school – when they could in fact be teaching those with dyscalculia.
So we set about finding a unique solution: a way of providing information about dyscalculia and materials for the teaching of dyscalculic students which incorporated the training that might otherwise be given on a traditional course.
Thus we now provide the background information we have on dyscalculia, plus a range of teaching materials, so that both maths teachers and SENCOs can rapidly gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to teach dyscalculic pupils and students, without having to go on courses
Naturally everyone starts with a different level of knowledge and awareness in relation to dyscalculia and maths education, and so we don’t have a prescribed process that we say everyone should follow, but rather a series of options.
Part 1: The Background
The most common starting point is a set of six articles that were written for SEN Magazine which are now reproduced on our web site and available without charge. I would suggest that you start by having a look at these articles before moving on.
Part 2: Dyscalculia and how pupils and students can be taught.
Many teachers then choose to read one or both of our two downloadable books on dyscalculia.
- Understanding Dyscalculia – a general guide for schools and colleges
- Methods of Teaching Maths to Pupils and Students with Dyscalculia
You can find these on the website (just click the link above), and you will find one particular extra benefit with these. Because these are books that are downloaded, you can then share them with colleagues in your school (either in part or in full), so that others can see how dyscalculia can be approached.
Part 3: Resources for use with dyscalculia pupils and students
If it is clear to you where the problems with your pupil or student lies, you can then opt to use one or more of the sets of materials that we provide that make up the lessons for those with dyscalculia.
These lessons are all totally practical and involve teaching maths in a totally multi-sensory way. They are now used in schools across the UK, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.
The lessons move from the very basis of number, through the four basic functions of maths, and onto fractions and percentages. There is also a separate volume on time which is an issue that a large number of dyscalculic students can find complex and difficult to grasp.
The books contains numerous activities to be carried out with the pupils and students and the materials can be copied for use within the school so that others beside yourself can also use the materials without buying extra copies of the books.
Books for use with pupils and students who have dyscalculia.
Part 4: Testing for Dyscalculia
To help understand the exact nature of a pupil or students difficulty we have the on line diagnostic test for dyscalculia which can be taken through the Dyscalculia Information Centre.
Taking a test is not an essential pre-requisite for helping a young person overcome the problems they face through having dyscalculia, but it can be a very helpful way of ensuring that you are aware of exactly where each individual’s particular difficulties lie.
Obviously the above does not constitute a course in teaching dyscalculia in the traditional sense, but it is a route towards such work which many have used and found just as effective (and generally far less expensive!) than the traditional notion of going on a training course.
Chair, The Dyscalculia Information Centre