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The Math Handbook for Students with Math Difficulties, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or ADHD Review by Cristi Schwamb and Rebekah Teague

Helmy Faber
Universal Publishers, Inc.
301 Yamato Road, Suite 1240
Boca Raton, FL 33431

When I look at various homeschool curriculum options, I can find plenty of math options. Most of those options, however, are geared toward students without any specific learning difficulties. Helmy Faber’s book The Math Handbook for Students with Math Difficulties, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or ADHD is specifically designed to provide targeted, useful assistance for students with learning difficulties that affect their ability to thrive in math classes.

The Math Handbook is a paperback book with 126 full-color pages and costs $24.95. Instead of being organized by grade levels, the mathematics concepts are organized by topic. Because this book is geared for students with math difficulties, the book goes to great lengths to make sure a struggling student is not faced with added difficulties due to reading issues. The table ofcontents is printed in large, colorful font so that it easy for a student to use. Furthermore, the math concepts are visually presented with only as much written explanation as is absolutely necessary. The visual representations of each math concept somewhat mirror the way the concept is presented in the Singapore Primary Mathematics curriculum, but in most cases, the concepts can be understood by children who have used other math programs.

The book starts with basic number-bond concepts and has a colorful chart showing which numbers combine (or bond) to make a ten. Charts on the following pages show all possible number bonds for number bonds from 2 to 10. It then includes a basic square grid showing addition and subtraction facts up to 20. This page would be a great reference for early elementary students who struggle to memorize addition or subtraction facts. After showing all the basic addition facts, this handbook shows how to solve progressively harder addition and subtraction equations, eventually covering addition or subtraction up to 3-digit numbers with regrouping.

The book continues in a similar step-by-step fashion. It shows all the basic multiplication facts in a square grid. It then shows multiplying a 2-digit number first by a 1-digit number and then by a 2-digit number. Later sections cover fractions, decimals, percentages, area, perimeter, averages, and more.

My daughter has struggled somewhat with math for the past few years. She did great when her math lessons primarily required her to memorize facts. As she progressed through elementary school, she found it difficult to understand word problems. She was capable of doing the math calculations, but she couldn’t always figure out what the problem was asking. My favorite part of The Math Handbook is a chart that shows the four basic operations and then shows what math vocabulary words and phrases are most often used to describe that operation. When my daughter uses the chart, she can see that a question asking for how many “altogether” is usually asking her to add something and that “sharing things equally” usually requires division.

The Math Handbook for Students with Math Difficulties, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or ADHD will serve as a useful reference tool for years. In early elementary grades, a student who struggles to remember addition or multiplication facts would benefit from putting a sticky tab or bookmark on the page with that page. Our particular copy has a sticky tab on the page with math vocabulary. I am also teaching my daughter to use this book to look up math concepts that she’s learned in the past but cannot easily remember. She’s capable of calculating both the area and perimeter of a rectangle, but she often mixes the two concepts up. Instead of quickly telling her the difference between the two, I encourage her to use this handbook to look it up on her own. Similarly, I’m certain that we will frequently refer back to this book often when doing calculations with fractions. She’s doing great with fractions this year, but she’ll likely need reminders when they come up again in a different year.

The concepts in The Math Handbook for Students with Math Difficulties, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or ADHD range from beginning math (basic addition) all the way up to some simple algebra concepts. In particular, the visual explanations of infrequently used concepts such as multiplying fractions or dividing decimals would be useful for high schoolers who once knew how to do the proper calculations but have forgotten. It would be valuable as a reference tool for any child who needs additional math help and would be useful for many years.

-Product review by Cristi Schwamb, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2017

Another Reviewer’s Perspective:

The Math Handbook for Students with Math Difficulties, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or ADHD
Helmy Faber
Universal Publishers

561-750-6797 (fax)
301 Yamato Road, Suite 1240
Boca Raton, FL 33431 USA

The Math Handbook is intended for students who struggle with math. They could have a specific learning disability such as dyscalculia or dyslexia. It is also suitable for those who haven’t been able to learn as quickly as classmates. There are more than twenty concepts included in The Math Handbook. These concepts are presented in a step-by-step manner with plenty of visual interest. The book is not a large one. It can easily be tucked away with any math curriculum or notebook. The pages are brightly colored, and the fonts and spaces used are considerate of those students with dyscalculia and dyslexia.

Topics included in The Math Handbook range from primary concepts such as number bonds, rounding off, and place value to more challenging ideas like fractions and decimals. Ratios, algebra, and money topics are also included. Each topic is given just enough attention so that the student has an easy reference to go back to when needed. Presently, The Math Handbook can be purchased for $24.95, or you can download a PDF eBook for $17.

Math has been a difficult subject for us. My son is one who falls in the dyscalculia and dyslexia camp. He is easily overwhelmed with too many ideas or facts on a page. He also doesn’t manage well when there is more than one wayto get to a solution introduced at the same time. Our goal for him is that he becomes more confident and independent when tackling math. We used The Math Handbook in conjunction with his regular math curriculum. What I found was that it was most effective when we went over a particular concept using The Math Handbook then let him use it as a reference while he practiced that concept using a series of problems.

For example, when multiplying two-digit numbers he could easily see the steps laid out in front of him. There were easy-to-see boxes and colored numbers outlining each step. Another section that greatly helped him was the section on time. There is a page that simply lays out the time with the coordinating time phrase for it. For example, 4:30 also means half past 4. This has always been a little challenging for him to understand. He has even used the book for reference when he has heard a particular time phrase on TV (9:30 means ten minutes to 10). In addition to all of the math “helps,” there are several blank pages in the back for notes, etc.

This is such a handy little book! It has become a great resource for our school day and more! I do wish there were some “how to” tips on how to better implement the book into our everyday lessons. It is based on the Singapore Primary Mathematics program. I am not familiar with this curriculum myself, but it might be worth looking into some more. I know for myself, teaching a child with dyscalculia and dyslexia has become quite a challenge. I appreciate resources like The Math Handbook who help me tackle that challenge more effectively. It is certainly worth checking out!

-Product review by Rebekah Teague, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2017