5 Tips to Help Grade-Schoolers With Dyscalculia Learn Multiplication

By Lexi Walters Wright

77Found this helpful
77Found this helpful

Learning multiplication can be tricky for kids with dyscalculia. Studying times tables won’t help much if kids don’t understand what they’re trying to memorize. Use these hands-on activities to help your child see how groups of numbers work together.

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Play with your food.

Use pretzels or other snacks to solve simple multiplication problems: “Show me 8 × 3 with your raisins.” Moving tasty items around can help your child develop a concrete understanding that will help with abstract thinking. To multiply fractions, use apple slices to show how the parts fit together as a whole.

You can also ask your child to double or triple a recipe: “What is 2 × ¾ cup of sugar? What is 3 × ¾?” After solving on paper, he can check the answer by pouring the ¾ cups into a larger measuring cup.

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Make music.

Ask your child to play sets of notes on a keyboard or another musical instrument. For example, you can say, “Give me two groups of three.” As your child plays the notes, use dots or lines to draw the number groups you hear (||| |||). Then write an equation (2 × 3) and have your child solve it.

You can also reverse the activity: Write a number sentence, and let your child draw or “play” the appropriate number of notes to solve it.

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Shoot hoops.

Add a twist to the basketball game “Around the World.” Use chalk or tape to mark several locations around a basketball hoop. Then have your child try to shoot a certain number of baskets from each spot. Write the number sentence that describes what he’s doing. For example, if you’ve marked four spots and he tries five shots from each, write “4 × 5” and have him solve it. With each round, you can add shot locations and change the number of baskets.

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Check work using cool tools.

There’s a time and a place for using calculators. After your child completes a multiplication homework sheet, let him use a calculator to check his answers. You may also want to look into hands-on math tools like a multiplication pegboard that you can either make or buy. These kinds of tools may help your child work on doing mental math.

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Play games.

Add some math to your next family game night. There are lots of fun board games, online activities and apps that can help kids practice multiplication facts without feeling like they’re being drilled. Multiplication-themed board games include Say Cheese, tri-FACTa and Prime Climb. Tech Finder also has lots of expert-approved apps and games that can help with multiplication.

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About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright is a veteran writer and editor who helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.

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Portrait of Brendan Hodnett

Brendan R. Hodnett, M.A., is a special education teacher in Middletown, New Jersey.

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