What is educational therapy? Do we need it for students with dyscalculia?

Educational therapy is personalized help so students can reach their full potential.

While regular tutoring focuses on helping students with home work and review for tests and quizzes, educational therapy has a different and complimentary focus and works on development and long term retention of basic math skills and can be started when regular math tutoring is not effective or not effective enough. Educational therapy is for students who seem to know it one day and forget it the next.

Educational therapy combines general study techniques and organizational skills for learning with specific attention for a subject, while also addressing psychological aspects like self confidence and persistence.

After getting a good feel for a student’s skills in a specific subject, the educational therapist selects tools and techniques to address the issues that stand in the way of reaching the student’s full potential. These techniques are demonstrated and practiced during educational therapy sessions so that the student learns to apply them in school or when doing homework or studying independently. 

Educational therapy is never ‘one size fits all’, and always personalized. For some students the emphasis lies on study techniques in general, that may carry over and help the student to become successful in several subjects. For some students the emphasis is predominantly on an area of weakness or LD such as dyslexia or dyscalculia. Although there is some overlap and students may have characteristics of both LD’s, it is now a clear that these LD’s need there own approach. Intervention for Math Learning Disability (MLD) and dyscalculia asks for a very different way of teaching new concepts and how to apply them, to develop fluency and check for understanding than intervention for reading and they are usually provided by different specialists.

Ideally, educational therapy should be tailored to fit the educational needs of a student like a glove, making it easier to handle the educational ‘hot potato’


Multiplication foldable arrays to learn multiplication facts greater than five

The fold-able array below has 10 x 10 = 100 dots.  Each of the four colored parts is 5 x 5 =25.

The product of two numbers is shown as groups of 5 plus some extra.  Use the five times multiplication table and add the extra’s. It will help children when you fold the numbers that are not used to the back.

Example 1:

What is 6 x 8? It is 6 rows of 8. Fold back between the 8 and 9 column, so you only see rows of 8. Fold between the 6 and 7 row, so you only see 6 rows.

Count the total: 5 blue groups of five, 3 green groups of five, 1 purple group of five:

5 + 3 + 1 = 9 groups of five. Nine groups of five = 45. Now add the extra red dots: 45 + 3 = 48.

zeskeerachtSome children see immediately that the blue section is 25 + 3 green fives and one purple 5 = 45 and start to count the extra 3 red dots:

                    45 + 3 = 48.

Some children like to color in or connect the groups of five dots with a line to make it easier to count the groups of five.


Example 2:

What is 9 x 7? It is 9 rows of 7. Fold back between the 7 and 8 column, so you only see rows of 7. Fold between the 9 and 10 row, so you see 9 rows.

Count the total: 5 blue groups of five, 2 green groups of five, 4 purple groups of five

5 + 2 + 4 = 11 groups of five.negenkeerzeven

Eleven groups of five = 55.

Now add the extra red dots:

55 + 8 = 63.


Note: this method links multiplication to area and lays the foundation to later grasp the distributive property and FOIL method to multiply polynomials: (5+4)(5+2) = 25+10+20+8




Don’t pressure them for time

Don’t pressure them for time please, it is counter productive:

Pressuring for time sends the message that math is a race, instead of a thinking game.

Fear of running out of time limits higher order thinking and is associated with lower achievement.

No time. Hourglass sign icon. Sand timer symbol.


Graph paper is beneficial for all math students!

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When you are shopping for school supplies, think about an extra journal or package of three ring binder paper: quad lined paper is the first and most economical help for your struggling Math student. A small minority of students gets visually confused by the squares on the page. So it is always best to search for paper that is very lightly printed with ‘unobtrusive’ squares: the emphasis should be on what your student is writing and drawing not on the grid. 

Neatly lining up calculations prevents errors. Quad paper can also help illustrate many concepts that are more complicated to explain in words but are easily seen on paper, such as multiplication, area and perimeter, for making graphs, and drawing congruent shapes, when showing transformations in size, slides, flips, and rotations and many more. 

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