YOUNGSTERS at a North East school are helping to promote a pioneering teaching method developed in the region to support children who suffer from “number blindness”.
The students from Emmanuel College in Lobley Hill, Gateshead, were drafted in to launch the third stage of the Addacus programme.
The educational pack, called Addacus: The ABC of Numbers, is being used by schools nationwide including Emmanuel College.
The method was developed by retired teacher Celia Stone, an expert in dyslexia who lives in Northumberland.
She transferred her skills in coaching children to beat their difficulties in literacy to help them overcome dyscalculia, a similar problem with numbers.
Mrs Stone said: “The first Addacus stage is aimed at younger children and draws on their senses so they can see, hear, feel and experiment with numbers from one to nine.
“It makes learning fun and creative and raises their confidence levels, which also makes it an excellent way to introduce numbers to every child and give them a head start.
“Pack three is the final stage of the programme.
“It follows on from stage two, where pupils cover the numbers 10 to 99.
“Pack three takes them from 100 to 999 and includes an introduction to decimals and fractions and the concepts of money and time.”
Mrs Stone, who has spent two years developing the pack, said that by the time children complete stage three as a remedial support they should be able to slot back into mainstream lessons.
She added that for gifted children it provides the challenge they need at an early age. Emmanuel College has 120 students registered as having special educational needs, some of whom require additional literacy and numeracy support.
Patricia Cammack, individualised learning coordinator at Emmanuel, said: “We do have dyscalculic students who will benefit from Addacus pack three.
“The visual nature of the materials and the fact that the students have items to touch means they are using their senses, which helps in their learning.”
Having co-written a successful series of books on dyslexia, Mrs Stone first began developing Addacus in conjunction with the Knowledge House Centre for Design Research at Northumbria University.
Based around the principle of the abacus, the kit comprises a plastic till, manufactured by Hexham Developments, which contains ice-cube like bricks and posts to build up hundreds, tens and units.
The pack also includes brightly coloured numbers and a workbook.
Embossed cards and tactile features mean it can also be used to help visually impaired children.
Mrs Stone added: “While many teachers now know how to recognise dyslexia, generally they haven’t been trained in dyscalculia.
“Addacus provides everything they need.
“It’s designed so even classroom assistants and parents can use it.”