Graph paper works wonders both for calculations and understanding concepts
Although there is no instant fix for dyscalculia, there is an instant fix to maximize your credits for the math you can do! Using graph paper (quad paper, quadrille paper) will help you both with calculations and understanding concepts! It can benefit applying concepts as well as communicating your thoughts about the math problem.
Making your own drawing to represent the question makes it more fun and clarifies all types of math work, you can also add colors to your work!
Initially using graph paper might take a few minutes more, but it will save you time in the long run as well as increase your grade.
Starting in KG
Having a square to write in will make learning to form the numerals easier. KinderGartners and 1st graders need larger squares and should be taught to leave an empty square between each numeral and between lines to prevent the numerals ‘bleed into each other’.
Depending upon fine motor skills / penmanship and the progress in math, somewhat smaller size squares will come in handy now.
Using graph paper makes it quick and easy to draw a number-line and to show your additions and subtractions as ‘jumps’, including the multiples of ten numbers as ‘stepping stones’. It can also easily illustrate multiplication as repeated addition and division as repeated subtraction. Extending the number-line to the left from zero later explains negative numbers.
Using the sides of the squares as a guide for drawing will enable you to easily visualize and compare areas and perimeters and help you solve problems about area and perimeter.
Writing each numeral in it’s own square will help you to keep the digits in multiplications and long divisions aligned, so you do not mix up your units, tens, and hundreds, etc.
The grid will help you find lines of symmetry, complete symmetry drawings (like our free download activity) and make artistic patterns. When you cut out shapes or fold and cut the sides of a large square to make a star or snowflake, the printed squares will help you make strait cuts or folds. These activities are enhancing visual-spatial abilities, one of the components that contribute to being a mathematician.
Grid paper helps you to make the link between manipulatives and drawing models. By drawing a model the student shows he has internalized the concept that was illustrated by using manipulatives. The model shows his/her thinking and helps the teacher/tutor/parent to see if there are any remaining misconceptions, and if so which help is needed.
Middle and High school
Together with switching from wide ruled to college ruled paper you will now probably go for the small squares, allowing for more complex algebraic equations and working with geometric shapes.
In algebra it will keep those little ‘devilish’ minuses and other small math signs like powers etc. securely locked in your equations.
When you use the grid to draw a few points using an x- and y- axis on graph paper it is much easier to immediately ‘see’ the whole line, calculate the slope, and find the x and y intercepts.
Drawing your own graph before using your graphic calculator engages the brain more and forms a stronger memory than only looking at a ready made textbook or calculator graph.
Translations, rotations, reflections and dilations are easily understood making a drawing on graph paper as well as vectors.
Just getting into the habit of using a separate square for each numeral or sign will land you those extra points you deserve in algebra, in particular when you also have dysgraphia.
Do not back off because using graph paper in class or for homework means you need to copy the question on your paper before starting to solve it. The copying (or errors in it) shows your teacher or parent that you have (or have not) read the question correctly.
In a nutshell
Graph paper can be used in multiple ways, such as for many arithmetic, measurement, algebraic, geometric, and recreational math purposes. It is also beneficial to students without Math problems and should be available in each math class, it should be dubbed ‘Math paper’.