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From Hootie's Nest: What is Dyscalculia?

March 23, 2023
By Lynn Guion, Math Coordinator


What is Dyscalculia? 

Dyscalculia is a math learning disability that impairs an individual’s ability to learn number-related concepts, perform accurate math calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic math skills. Dyscalculia is sometimes called “number dyslexia” or “math dyslexia.” According to recent research from The National Institute of Medicine, “...Much like dyslexia disrupts areas of the brain related to reading, dyscalculia affects brain areas that handle math and number-related skills and understanding. Symptoms of this condition usually appear in childhood, but adults may have dyscalculia without knowing it.”  Dyscalculia is uncommon but widespread. Experts estimate it affects between 3% and 7% of people worldwide

Signs of Dyscalculia – Signs of dyscalculia may include difficulties with:

  • Connecting a number to a quantity
  • Counting backward and forward
  • Comparing numbers
  • Recalling basic math facts
  • Sense of direction
  • Mental math 
  • Making sense of time and money
  • Sequencing numbers 

Ways to Help – There are many different ways to support a student with dyscalculia including the following:  

  • Graph paper to help your student keep their columns and numbers aligned.
  • Hands-on manipulatives.
  • Allowing the use of a calculator.
  • Adjusting the difficulty of the task in addition to extra time to complete the task.
  • Using a journal or posters to remind students of basic math skills.
  • Math apps and games that practice essential math skills that make math learning fun.

Did you know? 

Our teachers use multi-sensory methods which include kinesthetic, auditory, and visual. These methods of teaching help students to use their learning strengths to support areas of challenge in their math understanding. Our students are actively engaged in their learning by using math tools, such as fraction bars, base ten blocks, and various other manipulatives to teach concepts.  Movement in the classroom is a key component, as well as modification, and differentiation of work assigned to meet the needs of each student.


  • The Dyscalculia Toolkit by Ronit Bird has great information and over 250 activities and games to engage students with dyscalculia. 
  • is also a very good resource for teachers and parents.

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February 15, 2023
By Melonee Foss, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

       February is I LOVE TO READ MONTH! There are so many things that make February special. Days including Valentine’s, President’s Day, and learning about Black History. In addition to these important things, February is also a time for us to celebrate the love of reading. To celebrate reading in your home there are five things listed below that you can do to celebrate “I Love To Read Month.”

  1. Share your favorite childhood book with your family.
  2. Set aside 20 minutes and partner read a picture book or a chapter book with your family.
  3. Take a trip to the library together and have everyone check out a favorite book.
  4. Have a family book club. Set a date. Have everyone read the same book and then discuss it over dinner.
  5. Listen to audiobooks together in the car. Model the fact that books are meant to be enjoyed and can be done anywhere.  

Although February is designated as the “I Love To Read Month”, reading is really meant to be enjoyed all year long. So, grab your favorite book, find a few minutes, and share the love of reading with your family! 


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“I have a Dream…”

January 26, 2023
By The 3rd Grade Team

The students in Third Grade have big dreams for their future and the future of our world!

Every January, the students at PHPS learn a little bit about Martin Luther King Jr. as they prepare for the much anticipated three-day weekend. When the students come to third grade, they begin a more detailed study of this great leader and his important role in our Nation’s history.

To start this cross-curricular unit, we begin researching MLK through a variety of resources that discuss the many accomplishments of Dr. King and his role in the Civil Rights Movement. The class also views the famous, “I have a dream” speech and is able to hear and see the passion that Martin Luther King Jr. had for his mission.

The prompt of “What made MLK a great leader” is asked of the students, and they are eager to share their several takeaways. MLK led with peace and set an example that peace is the way to a solution. He did this through his many speeches and by leading marches. His relentless work in Civil Rights contributed to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The students then learn about discrimination and segregation.

To wrap up our unit and reflect on the many lessons learned about Martin Luther King Jr., each child shares a dream they have for the world. It always fills our hearts when the students put their vision of the future in their own words. Our students want our world to be filled with love and peace. They want the earth to be healthy and for all of its inhabitants (two-legged, four-legged, and even those with scales) to be taken care of. The future is bright with these caring and kind students.

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From Hootie's Nest: A Monthly Look at the Way We Learn

January 12, 2023
By PHPS Reading Specialists

From Hootie's Nest

A Monthly Look at the Way We Learn

What is Dysgraphia? - Dysgraphia is a specific learning disorder (SLD) with impairment in written expression. DYS means difficulty and GRAPHIA refers to writing. Dysgraphia can impact spacing, handwriting, creative writing, spelling, and memory processing.

There are three common types of Dysgraphia – Motor, Spatial and Dyslexic. You can have symptoms from any of the three categories.  Motor affects a person’s fine motor skills (including dexterity and muscle tone). Spatial can affect legibility and the ability to write on lines and paper orientation. Dyslexic dysgraphia can present with illegible writing but also displays poor spelling, too.

Signs of Dysgraphia – Signs of Dysgraphia may include inconsistent letter size and spacing, spelling struggles/inconsistency of spelling, and difficulty with creative writing despite verbally telling stories well.   

Ways to Help – Many varied approaches can support a student with Dysgraphia including the following – Alternative pens/pencils and grips, less copying, using lined or graph paper, taking writing breaks, using speech-to-text dictation, utilizing the option to type, making sure the body is in the proper writing position. Strengthening fine motor skills is important, too. Building with blocks, snap cubes, and Legos and even crafting with clay or playdough are fun ways to build strong hands.  Eating bite-sized snacks with tweezers instead of fingers and creating with pearler beads or jewelry can be both fun and challenging for boosting hand strength and supporting a developing pincer grasp.

Did you know?  At PHPS, Kindergarten, First and Second grade students have devoted time in their weekly Motor classes to practice handwriting and work on fine motor skills targeting body strength, stamina, and visual coordination. In Third grade, students begin to learn cursive and keyboarding skills as well so that they may choose to type longer writing pieces. Fourth through Sixth graders become more proficient in their keyboarding skills and even begin to use voice-to-text dictation, too. 

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New Year, New Habits!

January 06, 2023
By Dr. Nicole Bell, Director of PHPS

Happy New Year! How are your resolutions going? The practice of making a new year’s resolution dates back to ancient Rome.  Julius Caesar established January 1st as the first day of the new year and named the month January for Janus, a two-faced god who symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead to the future year.  Romans made promises of good conduct to the deity for the coming year. Yet, the fact that we have been making resolutions since 45 BC has not improved our ability to keep them!  About 83% of resolutions are broken before we even get to Easter.  Why is that?

One reason is habits.  A habit is something we do without even thinking. They are triggered by cues in our environment. Research suggests that over 40% of what we do each day is determined by habit, not by decision.  So, in order to change a habit, such as eating junk food, the old habit must be replaced by a new one. Performing the new behavior forms new neural pathways that can be used instead of the old ones. Of course, this takes time, and it takes consistency and determination.  

We are continually talking with your children about their goals at school and encouraging their resolve to meet those academic goals.  This is a good time of year to check in with your student and determine if they could change an old habit at home that may be less than productive. Does your child procrastinate when it comes to starting homework?  Does he/she often forget to complete assignments at home? Does your child spend too much time on digital devices or social media?  The start of a new year can be an opportunity to discuss replacing old habits with new ones.  

Help your child set their goal by using positive terms that convey choice, such as want or could rather than terms that convey compulsion, such as should or must (i.e. “I can complete my homework before I watch tv”, rather than “I should complete my homework before I watch tv”).  We are much more likely to follow through and achieve goals when they are seen as our own choice. Then, determine the cue that leads to the behavior. If your child takes out their phone as soon as he/she gets in the car at carpool, replace that response with something different, such as getting in the car and immediately opening a snack and telling you about their day. Work on replacing the old behavior with the same new one each day.  

New year resolutions are indeed difficult to keep, but maybe if we just think of resolving to replace one bad habit with a new one, one day at a time, it may seem a little more attainable… I will check back in with you around Easter! 

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Recent Posts

3/23/23 - By Lynn Guion, Math Coordinator
2/15/23 - By Melonee Foss, Director of Curriculum and Instruction