Organized and efficient brain processing ability is at the very heart of the mathematical learning process and at the heart of Learning Breakthrough’s balance and sensory development learning approach.
Evidence from low performing adults undercuts the social myth that, even though one might be proficient in other academic areas, it is okay to under perform in math. The effects of math failure throughout years of schooling, coupled with math illiteracy in adult life, can be a serious hinderance to both daily living and vocational prospects. In today’s world mathematical knowledge, reasoning and related skills are no less important than reading ability.
Education specialists nearly all agree that the key to the learning process, basic to both math and numerancy fluency, is the ability to identify different mathematical associations and that these concepts be in place prior to the rote learning of facts. Students then stand to benefit greatly from the consistent use of memory strategies and the ability to consistently convert abstract mathematical concepts into routine sequencing arrangments. There may be no other single, organized program affecting the root brain processes involved in this combination of needs than the Learning Breakthrough Program.
Many younger children who have difficulty with elementary math actually bring to school a strong foundation of informal math understanding. They encounter trouble in connecting this knowledge base to the more formal procedures and symbolic notation system of school math. It is quite a complex feat to map the new world of written math symbols onto a student’s known world of quantities and, at the same time, learn an entirely new language to talk about this arithmetic world. Students need many repeated experiences and a wide variety of examples to make these connections strong and stable.
As with reading abilities, when math difficulties are present, they range from mild to severe. While children with disorders in mathematics are specifically included under the definition of Learning Disabilities (LD), seldom do math learning difficulties cause children to be referred for evaluation. In many school systems, special education services are provided almost exclusively on the basis of student’s reading disabilities.
This relative neglect might lead parents and teachers to believe that arithmetic learning problems are not very common, or perhaps not very serious. However, approximately 6% of school-age children have significant math deficits (dyscalculia) and among students classified as learning disabled, arithmetic difficulties are as pervasive as reading problems. This does not mean that all reading disabilities are accompanied by arithmetic learning problems, but it does mean that math deficits are widespread and in need of equivalent attention and concern.
Some students are particularly hampered by the language aspects of math, resulting in confusion about terminology, difficulty following verbal explanations, and/or weak verbal skills for monitoring the steps of complex calculations. Typically, children with language deficits react to math problems on the page as signals to do something, rather than as meaningful sentences that need to be read for understanding. This again is a strategic area of learning skills that the Learning Breakthrough Program is uniquely suited to help address.
A small number of students have significant visual-spatial-motor disorganization, which may result in weak understanding of concepts, very poor “number sense,” specific difficulty with pictorial representations and/or poorly controlled handwriting and confused arrangements of numerals and signs on the page. Students with profoundly impaired conceptual understanding often have substantial perceptual-motor deficits and are presumed to have right hemisphere dysfunction.
Historically, the objective of teachers for these students is to construct a strong verbal model for quantities and their relationships in place of the visual-spatial-motor skills that most people develop. Learning Breakthrough use strengthens these core visual-spatial relationships so that work-around solutions for mathematics teaching will be less necessary.