Teaching Strategies

The following skills can be taught by adopting the stategies as listed below each heading.


  • Talk about first, second, third, fourth etc as much as possible.
  • Ask questions about first, second etc to increase the student's consciousness of order.
  • Have the student use comics to identify the sequence of events.

Spatial orientation

  • Draw attention to the fact that numbers can be written to represent different values ie 1 is used to represent 10 in the number 18 and 1 in the number 21.
  • Have the student count piles of materials, consisting of between 20 and 100 pieces, and encourage him/her to form groups of 10. The portion of material counted in each session needs to be stored in lots of 10 so that next session, the entire pile does not need to be recounted. This process of sorting is the framework for place value.


  • Use the student's favourite colours.
  • Use manipulative objects
  • Copy a pattern; find what comes next, extend a pattern ie build a staircase from blocks, make own patterns
  • Have the student think out loud as she/he searches for patterns. Ask the student why a certain piece was selected.


  • Use die or dominoes to assist sight recognition ie have the student count a number of objects and find the corresponding number on a domino.
  • Have the student note that numbers higher than 6 must be made using a combination of dominoes ie 7 is made up of the numbers 6 and 1, 5 and 2 etc. It is not necessary to mention addition. Rather, the emphasis should be visualising the combinations that comprise the total.
  • Have the student calculate simple sums in her/his head and document the answers. Increase the difficulty level according to the student's competence. Work in small bursts and offer frequent praise bearing in mind that this work requires significant concentration.


  • Begin by providing obvious choices for the student to select from. Examples could include:
    • Estimate how many children from our class are here today so I can get enough newsletters - 1 or 27.
    • Estimate how long it will take us to learn estimation so that I know when to plan our next set of lessons - 2 weeks or 3 years.
    • Estimate how warm it will be tomorrow so that you know whether or not to bring a jumper - 25 degrees or 987 degrees.
    • Will this jug of water fill the drink containers of 4 cages or is it enough for just 1.
  • Look through newspaper headlines for estimates ie 40 years worth of sun, sand, surf, or GST adds $10m to the school bill, and 400 youth jobs offer.
  • Provide immediate feedback regarding how well the student has done.
  • Ask the student how they came up with the estimate.
  • Once the student seems to manage estimation, have them work on rounding off numbers with a view to using them for calculations.

Deductive Thinking

  • Talk about, and as much as possible demonstrate, the application of mathematical concepts.
  • Prompt the student to find situations wherein they can use a general rule.

Inductive Thinking

Help the student to work out what they have done in a specific case in order to identify a general rule.

The student with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus will often:

  • Appreciate and have enthusiasm for maths if they believe that they will be empowered by it.
  • See maths as valid and applicable if provided with relevant and interesting opportunities to practice concepts.
  • Find it easier to align symbols and numerals if they use graph paper.


Managing homework can be problematic for the student with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. Most tire easily, and everyday tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, toileting and therapy, followed by social and sporting commitments, tend to dominate spare time.

The student with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus will often:

  • Benefit from having the opportunity to complete homework in class, possibly in lieu of an agreed upon lesson.
  • Especially as they get older, need to negotiate with parents and teachers regarding how much and on what nights homework is manageable.

Life Experience as an Opportunity for Learning

There is an enormous amount that can be learnt simply from life experiences. Whether it be a matter of learning from one's mistakes, the skills aquired with age, the benefits derived from social interaction or aligning oneself with role models. These are all things that we learn over time.

The student with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus could:

  • Benefit from genuine work experience opportunities in the school. For example: the student could count stock or the takings, organise lunch orders, and make sandwiches in the canteen; she/he could issue late notices, check in/out books, return books to the shelves, and handle computer bookings in the library; she/he could answer the telephone, photocopy, type notices, and staple notices in the office.
  • Be supported in organising regular volunteer work in the community ie Meals on Wheels, in an 'Op Shop', hospital/nursing home visits etc.
  • Choose a work experience venue according to his/her aspirations and she/he could be responsible for initiating the placement.
  • Benefit from class and individual visits to learning environments such as nurseries, farms, factories, hairdressers, beauticians, offices, shopping centres.