During this time of social isolating, I have started tutoring some of my pupils online, using Skype. This has worked well with students aged 9 and above. If students in primary school are suspected of having dyscalculia, they will be asked to obtain various concrete materials to work with in the lesson, besides downloading worksheets, number tracks etc that I will email to them.
When tutoring students for maths, I first assess them informally to find their most basic areas of weakness and take them back to that point to ensure there are strong foundations in place.
Dyscalculic pupils are those who are in the lowest 10% to 15% for maths in their age group, and have continued to fall further and further behind their peers as they have moved through primary school.
They have fundamental gaps in their understanding of numbers and usually their only strategy for adding and subtracting is to count on, or back, in ones. Mechanical practice such as counting and doing sums does not help dyscalculic pupils learn number facts. I use concrete materials such as Cusinaire Rods, Numicon and Base Ten equipment to work on the basic concepts of numbers. We estimate and look for patterns. We work out and use logical reasoning, to learn the component pairs that make up the numbers from 3 to 10 and we constantly revise and re-inforce work we have done on these, with games and activities - some of which the children can take home to play with their parents.
Another cause of maths difficulties is poor working memory. Working memory is the memory we use to hold facts in mind for a few seconds while we manipulate them. It's the memory we use most in mental arithmetic. Children with poor working memory may understand numbers but need everything they learn to be re-inforced. If re-inforcement allows knowledge of facts to become automatic, this will free up space in the working memory for doing harder calculations.
In some children, anxiety masks their true mathematical ability. Maths anxiety frequently develops in children who try very hard but perhaps work more slowly than some of their peers; they find timed tests particularly daunting. If a child becomes anxious, part of their working memory closes down so they "go blank" and are unable to hold facts in mind. I try to foster a relaxed, non-judgemental attitude with the children, where there is no pressure to perform quickly and where any errors are thought about and taken as opportunities to learn. We use concrete materials until the child feels secure to move on to symbols and the abstract, and plenty of fun games and activities.
Typically dyslexic pupils who have maths difficulties have them in specific areas, such as sequencing, particularly times tables, reading signs correctly and fractions. If multiplication tables is a problem then I aim to get then very familiar with the 2, 5 and 10 times table and then show them techniques for working out all the other tables from these. With fractions we work with apparatus - plastic equivalent fractions, cardboard pizza slices, real fruit and pictures, to build up their understanding before moving on to the ways of writing fractions.
I taught science and maths, in both state and private schools, for many years, first in secondary schools and technical colleges and then in primary schools.
When I left full-time teaching I retrained with the Dyslexia Institute to teach dyslexic pupils. I have been tutoring dyslexic pupils and others who need extra help, privately at my home, for about ten years.
Increasingly children have been coming to me who find maths difficult at school so I am currently enrolled on a Post-Graduate Certificate course for Dyscalculia and Maths Learning Difficulties run by Edge Hill University. I have almost completed the first of two modules.
For some of the coursework I volunteered in a local primary school last year and will volunteer in a secondary school from September, so besides being aware of how to teach children with maths learning difficulties individually, I am fully aware of the pressures they face in school.
My rates as a specialist tutor are higher than many other tutors because of the high expense of attending courses and conferences so that I can continually improve my teaching. I spend on average, half an hour preparing each hour's lesson.
I have recently completed a P.G.C.Ed in Dyscalculia and Maths Learning Difficulties at Edge Hill University, graduating with Merit.
I have Approved Teacher Status with the British Dyslexia Association for teaching students with dyslexia, (first obtained 2005, renewed by submission of a Continuing Development Portfolio 2018) and have also gained Approved Teacher Status for tutoring children with dyscalculia and maths learning difficulties.
British Psychological Society Certificate of Competency as a Test User (Education, Ability/Attainment); BPS member since 2013.
Postgraduate Certificate in Dyslexia and Literacy from the Dyslexia Institute at York University (2005).
Master of Education, University of Leeds (1995).
Diploma in Applied Educational Studies (1990).
Certificate in Early Childhood Education (1984).
Teaching Certificate (Distinction), Eaton Hall College of Education, Retford
I was originally a class teacher in secondary schools, specialising in science and maths. I then retrained to teach primary aged pupils and taught in both state and private schools. I taught at York College for Girls for ten years; and at Chapter House, Queen Ethelburga's College for five years. I have also taught at other schools in and around York, including: Robert Wilkinson School, Carr Infants School and Escrick County Primary School. I have been a private tutor since 2004.
All my tutoring is done one to one so I can analyse all the responses of my pupils and pinpoint their areas of difficulty. The methods I use are multi-sensory and structured as recommended by research on learning difficulties. I am very aware that some children have a hard time in the classroom and I work to improve self-esteem, celebrating all their successes and trying to minimise anxiety with plenty of fun activities and games.
I have known Diane for over 40 years. Her strengths are that she is patient, caring, very knowledgeable and able to adapt her style of teaching to the individual.
My daughter has dyscalculia and struggles as a result at school. The school system moves too quickly for her and she has been left behind feeling low in her self esteem and confidence. Diane fully understands how Caitlyn learns and has taken her back to basics to put in the foundations that she has not established through school. I stay during the lesson in another room and what I hear is my little girl who cries usually at the thought of Maths, laughing and enjoying learning. Diane is kind in her approach and uses games to help her learn. Progress is slow as my daughters working memory is not good so she forgets what she has learned sometimes but she is definitely making progress. I cannot tell you what a difference Diane makes in a mere paragraph as it is huge. If you are considering tuition for your child definitely choose Diane I cannot recommend her highly enough.
I just want to say that your support for our son over the past two years has done wonders for his personal self esteem, and allaround ability to adjust to a new life here in England. His reading skills are at grade level and he is no longer afraid to read aloud, his writing is legible and he has confidence to try new things that were hard for him two years ago. Thank you for your time, patience, and the creative ways you have taught my son.
I feel extremely lucky to have found Diane Kirk, she was the miracle I was looking for to help my son.
At sixteen my son had a high level of intellect and had successfully completed G.C.S.E.'s with assistance, but he did not have the ability to write, or spell very well.
Diane tailored a programme to suit him perfectly. She was very supportive and kept him interested and focused at all times. I know he could never have achieved the same result without Diane and will be forever grateful.
I cannot recommend Diane Kirk more highly, and will be forever grateful to her for turning my daughter's life around.
We started seeing Diane in January 2012 when my 13 year old daughter presented with a reading and spelling age of under 10 years. My daughter embarked on a specially tailored and intensive programme under the care and expertise of Diane, who gently coaxed, encouraged and supported her. By May, my daughters reading age was 13+.
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