Math ChallengesIntegrated Support for Elementary, Middle & High School Education
Lots of things can make math hard for some students: dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalculia (trouble with number sense), visual processing issues, and straight up math anxiety. At McLean, we work to understand the specifics as well as the subtleties that contribute to a student’s math challenges, and use research-based approaches and best practices in our classrooms to address them most efficiently and effectively. Our expert teachers in Lower, Middle, and Upper School, Coordinators of Learning Services, and Math Specialists are always at the ready with a range of tools and techniques designed to support all of our students, with and without diagnosed learning differences.
Math Department Chair Paul Belliveau and Middle School Math Teacher Robyn Wise, speak to taming the math anxiety monster.
Some children understand the logic behind math problems, but struggle to recognize visual representations of math concepts or to learn basic facts and patterns. Manipulatives and other multisensory techniques can get at some of these sticking points and help kids break through barriers in their thinking. Sometimes we get kids up and moving to “act out” a math problem — literally carry a number like you would in a division problem — to bring clarity to a concept. Talking through word problems is a constructive way to support the student who may already have a hard time with reading or decoding or struggles to follow multiple steps.
In all we do at McLean, we take time to get to know each individual learner in order to determine the best way to support them. Sometimes it’s a surprisingly simple fix — like the time one of our teachers realized a student performed significantly better on math tests that left more blank space between problems — and sometimes it takes more time and patience to tease the challenges apart. It could be the creative solution of an ungraded Middle School math class to free up students so they can focus on learning and mastery without the pressures of performance. Or, it could be consistently utilizing Mindfulness techniques so that students stay present in the moment, and are available for learning. With explicit instruction, together with a heaping dose of empathy, our expert educators help those who feel “bad at math” tap into their competence.