7 Unconventional Ways to Support Your Arithmetic Phobic Child

MATHS INSIDERS bloggs (10)

This is a guest post by Adrian Beckett, London-based maths tutor extraordinaire

I’m Adrian Beckett.  I specialise in Maths tuition to primary age children; preparing children for exams and supporting children with special needs in particular Dyscalculia.  I also help find families a Maths tutor in the London (U.K) area

In this blog post, I’ll be discussing Dyscalculia (a specific learning disability involving innate difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic. It is akin to dyslexia and includes difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, learning maths facts, and a number of other related symptoms: Wikipedia) and what we can do as tutors/home educators/parents to support young children with difficulties with number and helping children more generally with their Mathematical learning.

Last night, I was honored to speak to Lawrence Ball.  Lawrence is an inspirational man with almost 40 years experience of tutoring Maths one-to-one.  I’ve reflected on our chat and my experience of tutoring to offer these 7 insightful ways to support children with Dyscalculia


1. Tell Jokes

Maths is a serious business.  Having a laugh can help Dyscalculic students loosen up and take themselves and their learning less seriously.


2. Don’t rely on feedback

Students tend to tell us fibs about their understanding.  Keen to please us they say they understand, when they don’t.  Lawrence uses impersonation to demonstrate to students what it looks like to him when they say they understand when really they don’t.  He finds this promotes honest feedback


3. Maintain a high level of engagement

We often consider how engaged our students are, and forget to be fully engaged ourselves as tutors.  Trying, where possible, to engage ourselves is important too.


4. Rating 1 to 5

Self and peer assessment are buzz words in schools these days.  Lawrence encourages students to do this too.  Your student’s rating on how they are feeling can help them to engage more in their learning.


5. Be Silly

Sillyness is a healthy way of saying, “yes, we are going to learn Maths” but we don’t need to be stuffy and formal about it.  Laughter, songs, stories, anecdotes can promote an air of sillynesss.

 6. Love Bombing

I read an article in the Guardian about the technique of love bombing .  The idea is that children are bombed with love for a day by their parents.  They get to choose what they do and are in complete control of the agenda.  What his experiment has shown is that instead of going out of control, instead they show restraint.  The freedom actually results in children exerting self-control.  A 5 minute burst of love in maths tutorials could help.


7. Chat

With dyscalculic students, activities sometimes involve intense bursts of concentration.  Sometimes, stopping what you are doing and having a chat can be way of relaxing before starting a new activity.  It’s a bit like love bombing too, where the student becomes the focus for a bit.

Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

One thought on “7 Unconventional Ways to Support Your Arithmetic Phobic Child

Comments are closed.