“Math strengths and weaknesses do not all look the same.”
That’s what Shayna Sackett-Gable, MEd, wants parents and educators to know. The math coach at Seth Boyden Demonstration School shared her insight during a recent forum on dyscalculia, a learning disability that impacts the ability to do math.
The forum, Dyscalculia Understood, took place in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was hosted by Understood founding partner, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) and the Eagle Hill School, an independent school that has been working with kids with learning and thinking differences for more than 40 years.
After opening remarks from Eagle Hill’s head of school, Marjorie Castro, EdD, and Mimi Corcoran, president and CEO of NCLD, there was a panel discussion. The panel was composed of leading field experts and facilitated by Lindsay Jones, Esq., NCLD’s vice president and chief policy and advocacy officer.
During the hour-long discussion, each panelist spoke about the challenges of dyscalculia and how parents and educators can help children with dyscalculia succeed.
Throughout the forum, there were a few ideas that kept coming up. Panelists echoed the need to be patient with kids who struggle with math. They also talked about how important it is for people to know these kids can get better at math with the right support.
“If parents are frustrated, they need to imagine how frustrated their child is. Be patient with them,” said panelist Gina Burke, M.P.S. As a special education teacher and co-department head of the Eagle Hill mathematics department, Burke is familiar with the frustration both students and parents face.
Daniel Ansari, PhD, wanted parents to know that interventions can be a big help for kids with dyscalculia. A professor at the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University, Ansari reminded the audience that the “key question” is how to maintain that improvement over time.
Michele Mazzocco, PhD, a professor at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, said that we’re all mathematical thinkers—we just have to figure out how we each think about math and teach to the ways kids think.
Sackett-Gable spoke of all kids with learning and thinking differences when she said, “Just because a child struggles in one area doesn’t mean they are going to struggle in all areas.”
View highlights from the event in the video below.
Learn more about dyscalculia. Download a dyscalculia fact sheet. And explore a day in the life of a teen with dyscalculia.
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About the author
Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.