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Conquer It

Dealing with dyscalculia shouldn't cost you a fortune. 

The strategies are common sense and are all available for free on dyscalculia.org. 

First and foremost, focus on money because it is intuitive, motivating, and easy to understand. 
The dyscalculic will have a hard time remembering math rules and procedures, so they need a logical way to work things out.
Money makes perfect sense, and since it is used for everything, it is relevant and builds confidence rapidly.

  • When you have a quarter, you hold a fraction, 1/4, (and a decimal, .25) in your hand. 
  • When you learn that you need 4 quarters to trade in for a $1 bill, you have just learned to add fractions AND DECIMALS, too! 
  • And you also know how to subtract decimals and fractions: 4/4 - 1/4 dropped, leaves 3/4s in hand. 
  • You even can do ALGEBRA with fractions! 4/4 - x = 3/4, so x = 1/4.   This takes the FEAR away!
  • When you learn to think of all fractions as coins, they are easily understood. 
  • So it is no problem to add a dime (1/10) to a quarter (1/4) to a 50-cent piece (1/2).
  • You don't need to convert fractions to common denominators first, if you think of fractions as coins.

We are going to make your child smarter than the bank teller in one day! How powerful is that?

Take them to the bank equipped with a list of requests for the teller.
Have them write the answers in a notebook. 

Get rolls of these coins, plus 50-cent pieces. 
  • pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters
After requesting the coins, then ask,
"What are all of the denominations of bills that you have at the bank?
Do you have $1 bills? Can I have 15 of them?
Do you have $2 bills? Can I have 10 of them?
Do you have $5 bills? Can I have 5 of them?
Do you have $10 bills? Can I have $11 of them?
Do you have $25 bills?
Do you have $50 bills? Can I have 3 of them?
Do you have $100 bills? Can I have 10 of them?
(At some point, you'll use fake bills at home;
But using real bills is very powerful and exciting,
so use real bills to the extent you are able.)
Do you have $500 bills?
Do you have $1,000 bills?
Do you have $1 million dollar bills?
What is the largest bill you can give a customer at this bank?
Why?....Can you ask your manager if you don't know?"

What did your child learn about money at the bank? 
Have them make a video about what they learned.


With realistic bills and real bills and real coins, a child will understand place value to quadrillion, be able to read, reason, and do calculations with gigantic numbers, and will be able to think and calculate wholes, fractions and decimals without doing long complicated operations like borrowing and carrying, but just by talking about it and reasoning aloud. How?


Because the child KNOWS, surely as they know their name, that...

10 pennies are traded for a dime,

10 dimes are traded for a dollar,

10 ones are traded for a $10,

ten $10s are traded for $100,

ten $100s are traded for $1,000,

ten $1,000s are traded for $10,000,

ten $10,000s are traded for $100,000,

ten $100,000s are traded for a million,

and on and on.


THAT's why it's called the BASE TEN system or DECimal system

because you trade up by TENS

and DEC- means 10.

(DECade = 10 years; DECalogue = 10 Commandments...)

CENT means 100, and PerCENT means for each 100.

Because it takes 100 pennies to make a dollar,

each penny is 1 CENT or 1 perCENT of a whole dollar (.01 or 1% or 1/100 or one hundredth).

Sales Tax:  So if the sales tax in Virginia is 5%, you'll need a nickel extra for every dollar on the price tag.
Go to a dollar store and practice figuring the sales tax before you get to the cashier. 
Just count the number of items, then add up the nickels, counting by 5s. 
If your tax is 6%, first add the nickels, then add on a penny more for each dollar. 
5 items would be, "5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30."   

If the items exceed fingers, make dots, in dice patterns of five, in a small notebook and count as you touch the dots.

Tips:  Use the same strategy to figure tips, but this time, put aside 2 dimes for every dollar of your bill to tip 20%. 
Put dots on a paper to mark the number of dollars on your restaurant bill. Count by 2s as you touch each dot and add a 0 to the final number,
(2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14,...) 14 would be 140 or 140 cents = $1.40 or count by 20s if you can!
(20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, 140,...). 140 cents = = $1.40

Dot Patterns:  Always make dots in easily recognizable patterns and train yourself to recognize the patterns. Ex. 8 is 5 + 3.  
Practice making the dot pattern for each number. 
Make dots in patterns to keep track when counting. 
When counting money or other items, arrange things in these patterns as you count, to make keeping track and totaling easier.   

Dot Patterns for Number Recognition