Students who experience difficulties with mathematics may frequently make errors when reading, writing and recalling numbers, experience difficulty with abstract concepts (e.g., time and direction), struggle to remember math facts, rules, formulas and sequences, have difficulty applying operational procedures accurately and consistently, and show limited strategic planning ability. These students will require explicit, understanding-based and carefully-structured instruction on basic number concepts in order to develop mathematical fluency.
For many students who struggle to develop strong numeracy skills, a weakness in their underlying number sense is also present. Number sense is our innate ability to make sense of numbers. It is the skill that allows us to know how many items are in a small set without having to count them, to be able to determine which set of objects is larger and to understand the relationship between the concept of a number and the symbol or numeral used to represent it. The development of number sense is also closely linked to our ability to count and forms the basic of the arithmetic system.
When planning for numeracy intervention, it is important to consider the point of break down for the student, but also important that the foundational skills of numeracy development are in place. Delays in number sense, counting, procedural knowledge (how to go about solving the problem), number fact development and recall, and understanding the language of maths is likely to reduce the student's ability to complete more complex and higher level mathematics.
Therefore, intervention is often targeted at the following areas:
Useful resources to support numeracy development
There are a range of useful resources to assist in the development of maths skills across primary and secondary school.
- Elementary Maths Mastery (EMM) - a comprehensive mental mathematics program designed for upper primary, lower secondary and remedial students. There is also a Junior Elementary Maths Mastery (JEM) program ideally suited for middle primary and upper primary remedial students, as well as a Junior Elementary Maths Master Plus (JEMM+) also suited for middle primary and upper primary remedial students.
- Series of books developed by Ronit Bird (e.g. The Dyscalculia Resource Book, Overcoming Difficulties with Numbers) that provide resources, games and puzzles to help teach key aspects of numeracy to students between the ages of 7 to 16.
- Books, board games and card games, developed by Paul Swan, designed to build maths skills in a fun and engaging manner (e.g., Dice Dilemmas, Tackling Tables, Fraction Cover Up, Money Matters). Several of these are available through the DSF Library and Bookshop.
- Magical games for Mathematics – a book of 80 maths games, covering number recognition, place value, algorithms, decimals, fractions and more. Aimed at students from the ages of 5 – 12.
- The computer-based NumberShark program utilises a games based approach to numeracy. It includes 45 games that cover addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in ways which add meaning and understanding to these operations.
- There are a range of online games that provide opportunities for students with maths learning difficulties/disorders to consolidate and extend their foundation maths skills. These include:
- Numbersense (number-sense.co.uk)
- The Number Race (thenumberrace.com)
- The Number Catcher (thenumbercatcher.com) - a sister program to The Number Race designed for older children.
- There are also a range of iPad/iPod apps designed for primary and secondary school students to help support and reinforce target learning areas.
- Various online resources are also available. These include:
- The Khan academy (https://www.khanacademy.org)
- White Rose Maths (https://whiterosemaths.com)
- Eddie Woo Youtube Channel (https://misterwootube.com)