Yes! You Should Teach Math to Preschool and First Grade Students

Young children love to touch and feel concrete objects. They love to move and immerse themselves in their surroundings. They are curious about everything around them. Maria Montessori knew this and incorporated sensory activities into early learning lessons. 

Deborah Stipek, a Stanford University professor and former dean of education, has researched how children learn math and best teaching practices for success with math.  She has long predicted that we are not paying enough attention to math instruction in schools. Early math instruction provides children with a strong foundation to build on just as it does for literacy. Her research as well as that of others, points out how, “Math can predict reading success and failure.” 

The research is supporting the statement, but so far the reason is not really confirmed. It is thought that perhaps it is related to executive function.  Further research points to how high school math failure begins with early number knowledge in first grade. Preschool children and first graders can learn to love math if it is taught through multisensory methods. 

This is where a passion for math begins, or at the least it eliminates failure. Learn more about Stipek’s research and recommendations for early learners here.

Learn more about Multisensory OG Math.

Goldilocks and the “Just Right” Math Lesson Plan

You care about your students, so you know it’s important to plan your instruction well.

When your student or child struggles with basic math concepts, that uncertain feeling in the pit of your stomach starts to simmer when the help you are trying to give doesn’t change the situation. 

 You’re trying to help your student catch up, but here’s how it goes; today the focus in the classroom may be addition or subtraction. 

You jot down a lesson plan and hunker down for some drill and practice with addition. Ah, it is familiar to your student! So you find some rhythm with your practice and it seems like she gets it. Yes, maybe you are both making some progress! After all, she should know this. Right?

Well yes, she may be familiar with addition and yes, she may know some of the addition facts. 

But does she really get it? 

The next day tells the tale. Although addition was familiar, it was not secure for mastery. So today you are back to where you were before; reviewing basic addition facts.

Only today, the class is practicing subtraction. Now, you are forced to make a timely decision. 

Today’s lesson had better shortcut addition practice and get right into subtraction so she can keep up with the class. But you can’t help having that nagging feeling that you’ve taken a wrong turn. You’ve made a necessary switch, but maybe not one that your student is ready to make.

And it is here where you find out that subtraction is an even less secure skill for her than addition. Your experience tells you that a solid understanding of addition is imperative if your student will truly understand subtraction.  And so it goes. You are unwittingly using the Goldilocks method of lesson planning. 

The Goldilocks principle is derived from the children’s story “The Three Bears” in which a little girl named Goldilocks finds a house owned by three bears. Each bear has its own favourite porridge, chair and comfortable bed. After testing all three examples of all three items, Goldilocks determines that one of them is always too much in one extreme (porridge too hot, chair too large or bed too hard), one is too much in the opposite extreme (porridge too cold, or bed too soft), and one is “just right”.

Similarly, the first plan I described is often intended as a  “catch up plan” which jumps right into the classroom curriculum so the student is up to speed with math concepts lickety-split. Goldilocks would tell you that plan is just too much for a struggling student.  It positions the student and you into a situation of overwhelm. 

A second approach is to place the student in an alternate curriculum workbook that is at his own skill level.  But often the struggling student is below the class level. Still it seems like a good alternative plan. Unfortunately, because he is on a different path than the students in his class and working independently, Goldilocks would say there is just too little interaction or timely feedback to be successful. 

You want your math lesson plan to be just right and Goldilocks would heartily approve. 

So what is just right? 

To start with, it is a lesson plan that begins with an accurate look at the skill level of your student as she is right now. That is the diagnostic aspect of the Orton-Gillingham Math Approach. Once you have established a clear idea of your students skill level, you can develop a lesson plan just for her that will review what she knows and includes the next concept that needs to be taught, or in some cases, re-taught.  

But it is not yet a plan that is just right! 

Because you need to evaluate how successful the current lesson was before you can plan the next one. That is the prescriptive aspect of Orton Gillingham Math. And that is how we move forward building what we refer to as “tiny habits”. I’ll talk more about them in the next blog article. 

Go to this link to learn more about OG (Orton Gillingham) Academic Math.

Or contact OG Math for a private link to the OG Math Online Training Course.

Dyslexia in the News

There is help for dyslexia.

There is help for dyslexia.

Dyslexia can be a devastating condition if left untreated. It can impact reading, writing, math and self-confidence. However, at Prospect Centre we know that teaching children with dyslexia can be a rewarding experience. It takes the combination of skilled instruction and caring. Our OG practitioners have both. 

Sometimes it's difficult for those not affected with dyslexia to grasp the impact of dyslexia on a child's life.  This video explains both the deep frustration and  great success that people with dyslexia can experience. Let us know if we can answer your questions about how we teach our students with dyslexia.

Contact Tracey at  

A Memory, Processing and Learning Difficulties Conference

This is your chance to attend a conference that zeros in on key reasons for working memory difficulties and links them to key strategies for reading, writing and other aspects of dyslexia which can prevent effective learning. Learn how to identify learning difficulties that effect your child or student and find out what to do about it.

You'll leave with a clear understanding of the challenges children face day-to-day in school and exactly what you can do to make important changes that will lead to success. 

Find out more and register here

About Virginia

On Sept. 21, 1897 and eight-year-old girl, Virginia O’Hanlon, wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun Newspaper.  It said, 


I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.

Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon. 

115 West Ninety-Fifth Street, NY

The quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial. 


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…..”

It was later discovered that the response to Virginia was the work of veteran newsman Francis Church. It has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, on posters, stamps and the Antiques Roadshow …… and now here in an OG Academic Math blog post.

About Orton-Gillingham Math

Time-and-time-again, people contact me asking if there really is an approach to teaching that can be called Orton-Gillingham Math

Some people think of Orton-Gillingham only as a structured phonics approach for teaching reading to students with dyslexia and learning disabilities. 

Other more informed individuals know Orton-Gillingham as an interactive, multisensory, dynamic approach for teaching all aspects of literacy: reading, writing, comprehension and advanced language structures.  The Orton-Gillingham Approach is – and should always be – adaptable, versatile and flexible to individual needs.

Math is a language. It is a precise language. A student’s ability to learn math language and ideas is made more difficult if the student has dyslexia, dyscalculia or a language-based learning disability.

My experience developing and teaching an Orton-Gillingham or OG Approach for Math has allowed me to see many discouraged students blossom in math. Those students who were failing at math leave OG Math lessons not only confident in basic math skills, but also ready and able to build higher math skills on a sturdy math foundation. The students and their OG Math instructors know for certain, there is an Orton-Gillingham Math Approach. And yes, Virginia it really does work!

OG Math Online Training Course

Is it just too challenging to travel to our classroom  training courses?

Contact us here to receive a private link to our OG Math Online Training Course.

Are you interested in learning more about OG Academic Math?

Enter your  name and email here and I’ll be sure to send you a link.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and Math Success  in 2017. 

The Effect of Not Doing or Why Not Teach OG Math?

Our actions shape our lives, but when we don’t take action it can be just as powerful.

I know! I was reluctant in the beginning of my OG Math journey. In fact I was completely resistant. 

I knew that I was secure in my ability to teach students to read and write fairly confidently with the Orton- Gillingham or OG Approach. But Math! That was for someone else – like maybe a specialized math teacher.

 So I confidently turned down opportunities to assist the students who approached me for help with math. My thinking was that someone else was more qualified to help. Gradually, bit by bit my eyes were opened and my thinking started to change. 

Whether you realize it or not, every one of the thoughts you think, the words you speak, and the actions you take contributes to the complex quality of your interactions with your students who count on you for learning support. It simply is not possible to be alive without making an impact on people around us. It is particularly so with our students. If they trust you enough to ask for math help, how can you turn them down? 

Every action taken affects your students as greatly as every action not taken. And when it comes to teaching students who struggle with the basics of math, what you choose not to do can be just as important as what you choose to do. 

Another way of putting this is if you don’t think you can do it, how will your students believe they can do it? For example, when you sometimes neglect to speak up, vote, or help somebody in immediate need, you are denying yourself the opportunity to be an agent for positive change. Instead, you among others are enabling a particular course to continue unchallenged, picking up speed even as it goes along. By holding the belief that your actions don’t make much of a difference, you may find that you often tend to forego opportunities for involvement. On the other hand, if you see yourself as an important participant in the ever-evolving world of your students’ needs, you may feel more inspired to contribute your unique perspective and gifts to carefully structured multisensory math lessons. It is wise to be selective about how and where you are using your energy in order to keep yourself from becoming scattered in your Orton Gillingham lessons. Your OG lessons follow a carefully developed plan. Not every action is appropriate for every person. When a student’s situation catches your attention, however, and speaks to your heart, it is important that you consider how to honor your impulse to help and take the action that feels right for you. 

That happened to me when I attended a conference many years ago and heard Dr. Stanley Antonoff speak about how many students with dyslexia were hampered in graduate and professional education by their weak math skills. But what really hit home for me was Dr. Antonoff’s declaration that math is a language.

And very importantly, he stated that people like me who teach students with dyslexia and language based learning challenges, need to acknowledge and address this need. 

No matter how proficient a student is in reading and writing, it is not enough if they are failing mathematics. 

Orton Gillingham  works wonders for reading and writing skills and often many people don’t think of it for math. But OG Math has the same multisensory, interactive, structured approach as OG language. It may be the answer to your student’s math success. And maybe you’ll feel better knowing you are doing what you can, when it’s needed. Sometimes, it may be your one contribution that makes all the difference. If it seems like something you would like to explore you can contact me here at this

Email or why not take a look here!

Why the Prospect Centre logo is a robust tree.

Prospects Logo.png

Our tree represents potential and growth built on a strong foundation at its core and in its root philosophy. That foundation is the Orton-Gillingham Approach for teaching which a rich enduring form of instruction. It is the perfect process for teaching every child who is struggling to learn or improve their basic skills.

If you are seeking support for your child, it’s important to know that Orton Gillingham instruction is highly successful but it is not a quick fix formula. Strong, durable learning takes time. At Prospect Centre, Orton Gillingham teaching has these elements at its core so your child will succeed.

Potential – Each student is an individual with strengths that are developed and strengthened through individual lessons for each and every student.

Discovery – While focussing on these strengths our practitioners learn daily what works best to maximize learning and retention for each individual child. Thus, our students discover the best way they learn, so all learning both inside and outside of Prospect Centre is made stronger.

Outlook – our students begin to see themselves as strong learners. They are able to navigate learning challenges with the skills, tools and deep understanding of their own learning needs. 


We believe everyone has valuable traits, and therefore everyone can develop those into real skills and worthwhile contributions to life. Contact us at anytime.         

The Prospect Centre for Learning is Hiring!

The Prospect Centre for Multisensory Learning in White Rock/South Surrey is currently hiring qualified OG practitioners. 

At Prospect we know that some children learn differently. That’s why our innovative Orton Gillingham approach is highly individualized; evidence based and designed to meet the learning needs of each student. 

Interested applicants require Orton-Gillingham certification and CATT membership among their other qualifications. Academy certification may be in process if the applicant is qualified. 

After school hours are required. Please send resume and cover letter to the attention of our Executive Director:

The Prospect Centre for Multisensory Learning is an academic Orton-Gillingham based remediation centre. Prospect Centre utilizes a team approach that optimizes students’ instruction through a collaborative approach led by the Executive Director and including the Office Manager, and OG Practitioners. 

Each staff member’s expertise, creativity and unwavering commitment to each and every student result in the success of our program as we provide educational therapy in reading, spelling, writing and math to students with dyslexia and other learning challenges. 

Extended benefits are available for full time employees 20+ hours/ week when those positions are available. A portion of the employee's work schedule may include completion of curriculum materials for the centre and occasional reception/office duties to assist the Office Manager when she is otherwise engaged 

To learn more about our centre, visit our website at:

We look forward to hearing from you. Resumes and cover letters will be received at

References will be contacted during office hours. Only individuals whose resumes suggest they are suitable for the position will be contacted by email for an interview during office hours. 

We look forward to hearing from you.