View Full Version : Dyscalculia, gap filling and higher math

03-27-2015, 01:37 PM
So my # 3 has dysgraphia and dyscalculia and is currently in 7th grade.

However he just tested out of our local schools SE program (the reason for him being at the public school.) There is nothing we can do to keep his IEP, and he is moving to a 504 plan.

This is a smart kid, gifted in spite of having learning disabilities.
The thing is the kid is NEVER, going to be able to multiply and divide. He will be allowed the use of a calculator in higher math. (Which of course isn't really help, because most higher Math classes require a calculator). And he has a ton of skill gaps because Special Ed doesn't cover the same curriculum as GenEd classes.

I gave him a Saxon Math pretest ( for middle school ) and he scored low on the first section, passed the 2nd section, and very low on the 3rd. (Overall he scored a 61% on the sections he attempted) . And of course the school is going to just drop him in the middle of a GenEd class, even though he doesn't have the skills to pass it. Dh and I decided to let him finish out the school year at school and see how it goes.

We have talked about going back to homeschool for him and letting him work on the higher Maths at his own pace. The school thought this was a good idea and even encouraged us to look at a couple alternative learning programs in the area. I'm confident that I can teach Pre-Algebra and Algebra no problem, it will be Geometry that is an issue.

I'm going to try and fill in the gaps between now and next year when he should start Pre-Alegbra. I got him Keys to Decimals because place value is one of his gaps. I was thinking Keys to Fractions next. (Maybe have him work the first book of one and the first book of the other)

Is there any other Math programs that an help fill in gaps?

Something else we should consider?

If it were up to me, I'd pull him completely and HS him next year. However middle school is where we start to let the kids make their own decisions.

03-27-2015, 01:56 PM
Marta, have you heard of Ronit Bird (http://www.ronitbird.com/)? She's a specialist in dyscalculia: maybe you can find something helpful for your son on her website? (*I* certainly learned a lot there about the disorder.)

We really like the Key To... books around here though, they're pretty thorough, not expensive.

My dd has ADD and has a bit of math hatred/phobia. for this reason we're looking int a more "think about it and write down your thoughts" program when we get to prealgebra next year; I am not sure if your son would find it interesting but the program is called Jousting Armadillos (http://www.arboralgebra.org/). The reason I mention it at all is that the student answer book and tests show some real kids' answers to the problems...this is eminently helpful to DD who, as a solo student, really doesn't know, often, what is expected of her.

03-27-2015, 02:43 PM
We prioritize time and money management, as well as navigation ahead of all other math concepts. It sounds basic, but those skills are critical. I figure, if dd can't independently register for a class, find her way around campus, and get there on time... being ready for calculus won't matter anyway! I remember seeing quite a few apps for dyscalcula that covered these topics when we were looking for something for dd's visual-spatial processing defict.

What are your ds' goals for post-secondary? We've made a plan that works backwards from dd's goal to attend post-secondary with pre-calculus completed in her G12 year.

Jousting Armadillos and Jamie York are on our shelf. Dd loved the "Can You Count in Greek" workbook from Prufrock, and it was amazing for solidifying place value concepts... but I don't know how it would go over with dysgraphia - it uses ancient number systems, so symbols in place of numbers. Dd did the workbook three times, she loved it so much.

03-27-2015, 03:08 PM
Time is an issue. He struggles with adding time. But he tells time very well.

Money is the one area he has never had an issue. Maybe because I used real money to teach him the concepts? He is quick at counting money.

Thank you for the Ronit Bird website. I searched and searched several years ago when he was first diagnosed, but I missed her site somehow.

I had not seen the Jousting Armadillos. It looks interesting. I will look into it.

Thanks to this kid I changed the way we do math at our house. His brothers are very manipulative based.

03-27-2015, 04:25 PM
Update: I emailed Ronit Bird and she suggested two ebooks to use with #3, to make sure he understands multiplication.
Exploring Numbers Through Cuisenaire Rods followed by Understanding Times Tables.

I just end started # 4 on multiplication, so this looks like something I would be interested in. :)

03-27-2015, 04:31 PM
And my ds has a math phobia too.

His older brothers are super gifted in Math. And the poor kid thinks he has to live up to their examples. We keep encouraging him, that we don't have that expectation but so far he is still nervous.

Of course it doesn't help his little brother finished Saxon Math K in 6 months. (His pace, not mine) #3 feels like a fish out of water in this family. I told him, I had struggles and #4 has struggles but he concentrates on the others.

03-27-2015, 04:38 PM
So Marta how competitive are your boys with each other? Would playing math games be, I dunno, a bloodbath...? Or would it be something #3 can do with #5 in terms of "helping" his littlest bro with his math facts etc.?

We've found that dd thinks differently and is not nearly so anxious when we're doing games that either tangentially or head-on deal with math (Monopoly money, dice games, etc.). Granted those games aren't as big a hit as other things but I believe Ronit Bird does have a few basic numeracy games on her site too.

And i am so glad that she got back to you with some suggestions...! I mean the woman has made a career of dealing with kids with this issue :)

03-27-2015, 07:59 PM
The thing is Math Games don't help.

It took him YEARS (3rd-7th) to memorize most of his multiplication facts. We used skip counting, we used memorize in minutes (and his language skills are strong, you would think a program based on language would work.) we used Math blaster, Timez Attack, I even tried 24. We tried worksheets, aleks, and mobymax. They told me the computer wants him to be quicker and quicker with his facts to pass him but he can't get quicker. His teacher says, honestly they have tried EVERYTHING and he can't be taught the multi-digit multiplication and long division. (BTDT)

I'm not 100% convinced he grasps how multiplication works. (Which is why I'm interested in Ronit's ebooks)

04-02-2015, 04:50 AM
Any tips on figuring out what GAPS need to be filled?

I had him working with the Ronit Bird book (a pretest) and the kid can't do simple division. The question was 26 divided by 2. (He picked 28 FYI) I'm sitting here wondering how he tested out of his IEP.

04-02-2015, 10:05 AM
The gaps will reveal themselves. You could start a translation list - something we had to do for word problems. 'Divided by = cut into', for example. 26/2 = 26 cut into 2 parts, using manipulatives (dd loved marbles).

Dd really struggled with the vocabulary of math. Have you looked into Waldorf teaching practices for math? I took a lot of heat on this board two years ago for using them, but they were incredibly helpful for my learner. The long division approach used a story about the divisor knocking on the door of the dividend, and seeing how many visitors can fit onto each floor of the house (place value)... You'll have to google it, lol.

YMMV - Personally, I would've hated learning math the Waldorf way. For some children, it's fabulous. For others, it's confusing as hell.

04-06-2015, 12:36 AM
I will try anything at this point. He brought homework home for Spring Break and I'm helping him walk through each equation. Dh nearly had a heart attack when he saw the "on level" work. I really need to check out the alternative school near here. I know they offer several homeschool options and still could help him with the social part of school he needs. #3 did say he would go back to homeschool next year if he struggled.

04-06-2015, 02:24 PM
My daughter has dyscalculia. She also will never memorize her multiplication tables, or be able to quickly figure out what 7+5 is. However, in her case, she is able to understand higher maths. She just has a heck of a time with confidence, remembering the right steps to use, and with trusting that her calculations are correct.

What I have found is that she CAN learn anything, it just takes longer - more repetition, more one-on-one, more explanation, more diagrams/manipulatives, etc... Once she has really learned, understood, and internalized something, then she's got it.

I had her evaluated last year, mainly because I wanted to find out what the problem is, and also so that I could get her some accommodations if she needed them. If she were in school, I now have a document that says she needs extra time for exams and the use of a calculator.

As far as strategies / methods for helping, I sit with her during all of her work. I try to focus on helping her figure out how to figure things out. We do things like drawing a diagram, checking her notes, finding a similar question that she's already done, re-wording the question, simplifying the question (using simpler numbers like 5 and 10). All her math tests are open-book, and I'm just trying to get her to the point that she can has the strategies she needs to figure out the questions on her own.

We have always homeschooled, except for a 6-month stint in grade 7. She realized then that math class is a disaster because she has trouble following what the teacher is doing, and as soon as she loses the thread, the rest of the class is a waste of time. She really needs someone to sit with her and explain everything step by step by step. I don't think there are any shortcuts or faster methods. For high school, she is planning to take all her courses at school, except for math, which she will do at home with me. We can go at her own pace and take as long as we need to finish each course. Mercifully, she only needs two math courses to get her diploma.

04-06-2015, 02:37 PM
#3 wants to go to High School too. He will need 3 courses to graduate. I talked to one alternative program in the area and he would take it at home and he could could have 3 semesters to take his Math instead of 2. The only tiny thing is it is a computer course. I think he might need to be enrolled at least half in one program and half in the high school.

If I sit with him, (ds #1 has been double checking the equation/equality is correct.) and go over it step by step, and he uses a calculator, he has been figuring it out. I can tell you, he is NOT, on level like the school says but we are making the best of it. We only put him in school because he was taking the special ed classes there and it was a PITA, to work around the schedule. (And the special ed, was important ) He used teaching text books for several years. He did fine with that. (Though the idea of scratch paper was lost on him. Again I blame his brothers, who can do complicated math in their heads. They didn't use it, so he doesn't want to.)

04-07-2015, 04:07 AM
It took us over 2 hours to do 1 of the 5 worksheets today. By the end he was understanding how to work inequalities. I was lucky my older son was home to help double check all his work, because I had forgotten a few key elements.

I taught him basic division today. For example (64/2 ). I also would do reverse multiplication. (What times 7 equals 42.) He seemed to understand it ok. I also had the go over "negative numbers. (He knew positive/negative were negative, neg/neg are positive. He didn't know subtracting negative numbers. (He subtracted an amount from a negative number.)

I'm sitting here knowing I can't teach him everything in a week. I was thinking of making him a cheat sheet for class covering all the new concepts he learned.

He wants to run track, but I'm not sure he can if he is going to have 2 hours of math to do every night.

04-08-2015, 03:09 PM
Dh and I talked last night.

He agrees this is a waste of time for everyone involved. It is obvious that this kid won't be able to do the math in this class. Plus it won't fill in his gaps.

We talked about filling in the gaps and think he might need a lower Math for now.

Dh said he might be able to take 7th grade math next year. And he doesn't want to put him in PreAlegbra if he can't pass 7th grade Math.

We are on Spring Break this week, so the school is closed. We can't talk to anyone.

Next week, I'm calling the alt. school and setting up a meeting with the new teacher.

I'm thinking he needs a 5 or 6th grade curriculum to fill in the gaps. (He hates this idea because he is "in" 7th. )

I know LoF is out. And I just got in BA and he found it very distracting. (For a different kid, but it started with geometry, which he is very weak in, so I thought we could try.)

I'm afraid Saxon will be too much. I can see him looking a pages of problems and shutting down.


04-10-2015, 12:39 PM
Marta, have you tried the Jungle Apps (specifically Jungle Time)? They are games geared to a younger crowd, but they can help with adding elapsed time, even down to the minutes. The juvenileness of it can be adjusted out in the settings. They also make Jungle coins, fractions, and geometry - a *math* dad wrote these apps to help his kids, and feature their voices on the english translation.



04-10-2015, 02:32 PM
We have been working the worksheets all week.

He is getting better at the problems. He is doing a fairly good job at setting up equations. He can solve for x. The calculator (and graph paper) helped a lot.

I know IF he can fill in the gaps, he will be able to do this slowly.

He has been looking over the Beast Academy book a lot. (So has my 2nd grader) They both have picked up the Geometry vocabulary. (Yay!) so I ordered the work books as supplements.

I emailed the Alt school and hope to hear from them.

I will check out Jungletime. That looks like something all three of the young ones will like.

04-11-2015, 06:05 PM
One more program to look at is JUMP math. It breaks everything down step by step and was very good for my daughter. Every lesson is short and covers just one simple concept so it's not overwhelming. For example, they teach long division over the course of about 6 lessons - each step is a different lesson.

The books are cheap (about $12 Canadian each.) They go up to Grade 8, and there are abundant supplementary free teaching materials on the website. I still use them as review for my daughter - if she forgot how to do something, I go back to the JUMP math books to see how to teach it again.

You can order through the University of Toronto press. I highly recommend them.

04-12-2015, 09:40 PM
Do you use the "jump at home"? Or the full edtion?

04-12-2015, 10:24 PM
I use the full program. "JUMP at Home" is one book per year, the full program is two books per year. It's less than double, but there are many pages and topics missing from "JUMP at Home."

Do you use the "jump at home"? Or the full edtion?

04-25-2015, 02:37 AM
I talked to the ALT school, they were great.

I was told it sounded like he was a good fit for "hands on Math 4". I looked at the class and the curriculum is "keys to".

So now dh and I are shaking our heads. We had purchased the Keys to decimals and fractions for him to work on over the summer.

Well at least we are on the right track. :)

06-17-2015, 01:32 AM
So his grades are in and they are terrible.

C's and D's......

All of his grades went down. He no longer qualifies for NHS, he seems lost and rebellious.

But he got "Rising Star" of the 7th grade. (Only given to 1 student in the whole grade)

We had talked to the MS and he was going to continue, now we (dh and I ) don't want him too. The kid says he wants to keep going to school.

He did get a decent grade in Math. (His best) We don't know what happened with the other classes.