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October 18, 2017
18 Oct 2017


DyscalculiaBy: Wyayn Rasmussen

October is National Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

 The most common learning disabilities are dyslexia (reading), dyscalculia (math) and dysgraphia (writing). Read below for more information on dyscalculia.

 Dyscalculia is a learning issue that affects kids’ ability to do math. It doesn’t just impact them at school. Dyscalculia can create difficulties in daily life. It’s not as well known or understood as dyslexia, but many believe it’s just as common. Dyscalculia is a co-morbid disorder often associated with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism (

 Students with dyscalculia have trouble with many aspects of math. They often don’t understand concepts like more vs. less or have an understanding of quantities. They may not understand that the numeral 4 is the same as the word four. These skills are known as number sense.

 You may have heard people quip, “I’m just bad at math.” As a society, we seem to accept that math is ‘harder’ than reading, so it’s okay to admit, “I’m just not a math person” and then laugh about it. Some of these people may be struggling with dyscalculia.

 A student with dyscalculia will struggle with basic arithmetic facts. But it’s not only with math facts. The student may struggle to tell you which of two numbers is the larger. Students may understand the logic behind math, but not how or when to apply what they know to solve math problems.

 Students with dyscalculia often struggle with working memory. For example, they may have a hard time holding numbers in their head when working on multiple-step math problems.

 Signs and Symptoms

  • Using fingers to count out math solutions, long after peers have stopped using this method
  • Trouble recalling basic math facts
  • Confusing the signs: +, -, ÷ and x
  • Difficulty linking numbers and symbols to amounts and directions
  • Struggles with money (i.e. handing a cashier a fistful of bills and change rather than counting it out)
  • Unable to tell time on an analog clock
  • Difficulty knowing right from left
  • Trouble with recognizing patterns and sequencing numbers

Today’s requirements for graduating high school include 4 full credits of high school mathematics and passing qualifying exams in algebra and geometry. For students with an undiagnosed and untreated math disability, this is comparable to requiring colorblind students to identify colors of the rainbow.

Meeting graduation requirements for math in high school is dependent upon students staying on target from early elementary on. For this to occur, students who are severely behind in math need to be identified for special services as soon as possible. Unfortunately, math learning disabilities are seldom identified at any stage in a student’s education.

Math worksheets are not the best way to help a student with dyscalculia. Students need a hands-on approach to learning math skills. After determining a student’s needs, an AOWL special education teacher will develop a plan to target them. The lessons are tailored to the individual needs of the student, finding the gaps in understanding that need to be filled and focusing on any mathematical misconceptions he or she may have. By using hands-on learning which can include games that use concrete materials, like Legos, dice, money or dominoes, along with a multi-sensory approach, our teachers work to create a firm foundation on which to build more skills.

Early detection and intervention are key in helping students cope with dyscalculia. Academy of Whole Learning’s special education team of professionals can help diagnose and create a personalized learning path to break down and teach the foundational math skills necessary to be successful in high school, college, and life in general. For more information on Academy of Whole Learning, please visit our website:

January 29, 2014
29 Jan 2014

Accreditation, here we come!

The Whole Learning School is an accreditation candidate, and currently pursuing accreditation through MNSAA!

September 9, 2013
09 Sep 2013

The Art of Crafts! Club

IMG_0019The students enjoyed the first meeting of The Art of Crafts Club, where they will learn to create beautiful crafts in many different mediums.

January 30, 2013
30 Jan 2013

The Blake School Students Visit TWLS!


Eighth grade student Ellen Israel from The Blake School organized a service project for the 7th graders at Blake.  They came to The Whole Learning School to help tutor students, like Ellen’s sister Stephanie.

The students at TWLS loved the extra attention, and the Blake students seemed to enjoy engaging our students in learning how to graph –  a win/win for sure!

December 12, 2012
12 Dec 2012

Hip Hop Hopping!

img_0012The Hip Hop Club at The Whole Learning School was really laying down some moves in preparation for their show!

Students of all ages participated, learning a dance routine that lasted for three songs!

November 1, 2012
01 Nov 2012

Baker Near Wilderness


Students, staff, teachers and parents experienced an overnight at the beautiful  Baker Near Wilderness facility on Tuesday night.

We participated in several naturalist programs – a survival training course, img_0075

where students built shelters, did a night hike, complete with owl calling, and had a course in archery. Of course, the campfire and s’mores were the most popular activities!

September 9, 2012
09 Sep 2012

TWLS Garage Sale A Big Success!

We earned over $1,600 at our annual garage sale this year!  Thank you so much to the Harrigan family who let us use their driveway, so we could participate in the hugely anticipated community garage sale that happens in Hopkins every fall.

img_0102Lots of people wandered over from St. John’s Fall Festival to take advantage of all the good deals, and were happy to pay ‘full price’, since the money was all going to benefit The Whole Learning School.

TWLS parents, staff and students all worked very hard sorting, organizing, selling, and cleaning up.  Thank you, everyone!  A special ‘thank you’ goes to Diana and Steve Benjamin, and Julie Benson for coordinating.

(Also, thank you to all the other nice garage sale people who donated gently used books for our library! )


September 7, 2012
07 Sep 2012

TWLS Off to a Great Start!

The Whole Learning School is starting our new year with more students than ever before!   Under new leadership, parents and staff alike are looking forward to a great new year.

July 25, 2012
25 Jul 2012

Building Dreams Benefit April 28

The Whole Learning School held the first annual fund and friend-raising event…the Spring Building Dreams Benefit! New this year, this volunteer-driven event was held instead of our Possible Dreams luncheon. The benefit took place on Saturday, April 28, 2012, and fun was had by all who attended. The event included a silent auction, student performances, hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and a raffle. This benefit expanded our network and shared our mission with the community so they understand how we are moving our students from school hardship to school success.

February 14, 2012
14 Feb 2012

Technology is Critical for Students with Special Needs

Using and understanding technology is fundamental to success in the modern world. At The Whole Learning School, technology is also an important “equalizer” for students. “Technology makes it easier for our students to demonstrate what they know, unencumbered by how neatly they can write or how perfectly they can spell,” said Head of School Ann Rooney.

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