The teaching of mathematics to children in primary school classrooms can be seen as challenging for some teachers. This is due to a changing society and the introduction of more complex mathematical skills. Once it was acceptable only to teach the four major mathematical operations, but now machines are available to complete these procedures. Yet now numeracy, communicating and making sense of mathematics in a range of everyday applications, has become the main focus of mathematics teaching throughout primary education (Bobis et al, 1999).
The teaching of numeracy skills to special needs children has become a further challenge for regular classroom teachers around Victoria. Though most special needs students learn differently most can master important mathematical concepts and skills. Teachers in many of today s classroom use concrete materials to reinforce the concepts related to mathematics. These techniques are extremely effective for special needs children many t as it allows the students to understand and visually assess the ways in which these mathematical concepts work (Giordano, 1993).
However other instructional alternatives to meeting special needs including spatial visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic approaches such as colour coding the steps needed to be taken during a mathematical process. For students who are colour-blind heavy bolding, underlining and italics could be used instead (Bley & Thornton, 1989). Also using number charts and special topic charts, like the steps taken for long division could be placed around the regular classroom walls for the use of all the students in the class, yet could be of special help to those with special learning needs (Bley & Thornton, 1989).
Proper sequencing of instruction is important for all students especially those are learning disabled as it clearly outlines what is expected of the students and how they are to set out mathematical equation and what operation is to be used in the concept. In addition, breaking instructions into smaller meaningful sections makes learning possible and not overwhelming for these students. Most of all the best technique for teaching any student mathematics is for the student to be engaged and for the mathematics to be enjoyable for both the teacher and the students.
There are many strategies that could be used to help the learning process of students who have special needs. Here there are only a few that have been highlighted to emphasise that these are the areas that many special needs students need the most support in. The teaching of special needs students may be challenging for some teachers, as the students tend to learn in different ways to those without the same needs.
However many of the students in mainstream classrooms learn in different ways to other students and the techniques that can be used for those with learning disabilities can also be used for students how are just struggling with mathematics. With this in mind the teaching of special needs students should not be an issue for teachers as there are many techniques that are available to allow for the teaching of these exceptional children without the fear of whether or not the student really understands what they are doing and why.