Empowering Numerical Understanding in Children with Dyscalculia: Unveiling the Number Shape System | Dyslexia UK

Empowering Numerical Understanding in Children with Dyscalculia: Unveiling the Number Shape System

April 8, 2024 Keir Williams Comments Off

For parents of children grappling with dyscalculia, the quest for effective and innovative ways to teach numbers can be a formidable challenge. This blog aims to be a beacon of support, providing parents with a practical, engaging, and compassionate approach to nurturing their children with dyscalculia. Emphasizing the significance of visual learning and creative engagement in numeracy education, we introduce the Number Shape System as a unique memory technique to make numerical concepts more accessible and memorable.

Dyscalculia, a learning difficulty affecting numerical understanding, goes beyond the struggle with mathematics. It alters the way individuals perceive numbers. Children with dyscalculia may find it challenging to grasp number-related concepts, recognize numbers, and apply them in daily life.

The Number Shape System Unveiled

What is the Number Shape System?

The Number Shape System is a revolutionary memory technique that bridges the physical shape of a number with a mnemonic image, enhancing memorization. For instance, envision associating the number ‘2’ with a swan due to their similar shapes. This system transforms abstract numerical symbols into vivid and relatable images.

Creating Number Shape Images

The initial step involves crafting mnemonic images for each digit from 0 to 9. Here are some examples to kickstart the process:

  • 0 = Ball, Egg, Doughnut, or Ring
  • 1 = Candle, Stick, Spear, Pole, Pillar, or Wire
  • 2 = Swan, Cobra, Clothes Hanger, or Whale

… and continue this approach for each number up to 9.

Watch this example of how to create a Number Shape System: Number Shape System Tutorial

Applying the Number Shape System

Short Number Memorisation:

For brief sequences like ‘639’, create an image for each number (6-Cherry, 3-Butterfly, 9-Balloon on a string). Weave them into a story: a cherry thrown at a butterfly that lands on a balloon. Connect this narrative with a contextual image (e.g., a pine tree for Pine Street).

Long Number Memorization:

For lengthier sequences, dissect the number into smaller chunks and devise a series of images and stories.

Using Peg Lists:

Establish peg lists for each number, associating each digit with a specific image (e.g., 0-Ball, 1-Candle). Multiple peg lists with diverse images for the same numbers can be created.

Benefits for Children with Dyscalculia

  1. Visual Learning: Leveraging the strength of visual learning, the system aligns with the preferences of children with dyscalculia.
  2. Storytelling: Crafting stories around numbers enhances engagement and facilitates easier recall.
  3. Concrete Associations: Linking abstract numbers to tangible objects aids in better comprehension and recall.
  4. Customization: Parents can tailor images and stories to their child’s interests, making the learning process more personal and effective.

Implementing the System at Home

  1. Collaboration: Work collaboratively with your child to choose images and create stories, ensuring they are meaningful and memorable.
  2. Practice: Regular practice is key. Utilize everyday situations to reinforce number shapes and stories.
  3. Game-Based Learning: Transform the system into a game. Challenge your child to recall the story associated with a phone number or house number.
  4. Integration with Daily Activities: Infuse the system into daily activities such as grocery shopping (counting items) or cooking (measuring ingredients).
  5. Progress Tracking: Keep a record of the numbers your child learns and celebrate their progress.

Challenges and Solutions

  1. Complex Numbers: For numbers that resist easy visualization, encourage creativity. Harness your child’s imagination to forge a memorable image.
  2. Reinforcement: Dyscalculia often demands repeated reinforcement. Exercise patience and consistency in practice.
  3. Engaging Interest: Keep the learning process enjoyable and engaging to sustain your child’s interest.

In conclusion, the Number Shape System offers a unique and effective approach for parents to assist their children with dyscalculia. By transforming numbers into visual and story-based formats, it caters to the learning strengths of many children who grapple with traditional numerical representations. Embracing this method can make learning numbers not just more accessible, but also a fun and engaging experience for children with dyscalculia.

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