Between 1994 and 1998 a team of researchers at First and Best worked on the first ever project to provide a complete set of materials for teachers of dyslexic students. Following the successful completion of this course, some of them began to undertake work to investigate whether the principles which underpinned the work on dyslexia could be used to generate materials for use with dyscalculic pupils.
This research has suggested that the answer is most certainly “yes” – although some additional factors have become clear:
- It became clear that children who have difficulty with maths often suffer from not having fully learned and understood some of the most basic of mathematical concepts. Thus they are continuously attempting to deal with more advanced mathematical issues (such as, for example, the division of fractions) without first having understood simpler issues (such as division).
- It is also clear that the best way to teach children who have a problem with maths is through using a multi-sensory approach in which they say, hear, write and handle numbers simultaneously. What has been devised is a dual system of maths in which the children learn a multi-sensory method of undertaking the required tasks and from this learn how to write mathematics in a conventional way.
- Finally, the researchers at First and Best accept totally the notion that maths should be taught in short blocks of time, with each session building succinctly on what has gone before. Ten minutes seems an ideal time.