# Dyscalculia And Mind Mapping: Does this works?

Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Editorial Team

REVIEWED BY NUMBERDYSLEXIA’S EXPERT PANEL ON DECEMBER 26, 2022

A 20-page academic research paper containing various sections like previous literature review, method, discussion, references, appendix, etc.

Or

A multi-tiered diagram representing the key concepts and the relationship between them.

If given the choice, which one would you choose?

If you thought second, then you chose a mindmap over an extensive piece of informational reading.

Mind Maps are simple but highly effective educational tools that help in clarifying concepts, summarizing information, and presenting it in a concise, easy-to-understand manner. This could also have the potential of aiding students with learning differences in better understanding and recall.

This blog highlights how Mind Maps can be helpful for individuals with dyscalculia and also illustrates the various steps in making your own mind map.

## Mind mapping: A helpful tool for individuals with dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a developmental concern and one of its signs and symptoms is that it affects the individual’s numerical and arithmetic abilities. For young children, it can manifest as trouble with counting, remembering basic numerical functions and procedures, etc.

For adults, this can result in difficulties with spatial reasoning, basic and advanced calculations, anxiety related to anything mathematical, etc[1]. Most of these difficulties emerge from one key difficulty, that is, not being able to remember the proper symbols, functions, and procedures to carry them out.

Coined by the famous psychologist Tony Buzan, a Mind Map is a diagrammatic representation of a concept or a chain of interconnected and interrelated concepts. It can range from a simple two-box flowchart to a complex multilevel circle diagram.

The technique of Mind Mapping, as explained by Buzan, takes a nonlinear approach, similar to the way our brain works[2]. It exercises our logical and analytical left hemisphere in sequentially arranging information and finding associations. It exercises our creative right hemisphere by using various colors, shapes, and pictures to make the mind map more colorful and effective.

Mind Maps can be really helpful tools for individuals with dyscalculia. As mentioned, one of the key issues facing individuals with dyscalculia is trouble remembering various functions and procedures to perform mathematical tasks. Mind maps can help with that as studies have found them to greatly enhance memory and understanding[3]. They have also been found to aid learning for individuals with learning differences like dyslexia[4].

## The why of mind mapping

Mind Mapping is an advancement in the field of education that has the potential of enhancing the learning experiences of all students. Even more so for students with learning differences like dyscalculia who might not benefit from the traditional approaches to teaching and learning. Some of its benefits include:

### 1. Effective note taking

Instead of writing down the information word for word, which students with dyscalculia can have a particularly hard time with, making a mind map ensures better understanding and recall. Pictorially or graphically presented information has been found to increase memory. Additionally, mind maps summarize a great amount of information which also makes them useful for quick revisions.

### 2. Boosts memory and recall

Mind maps are often paired with pictures, different concepts are color-coded and different levels of information are presented by using different shapes. All of this and more not only aids in recall but also ensures that the individual gets a deep understanding of the topic while mapping the information.

Students with dyscalculia often struggle with remembering loads of information about various mathematical symbols and procedures. This could be an effective tool for them to boost their memory and their understanding.

### 3. Enhances Creativity

Mind maps follow what Buzan called radiant thinking patterns. According to this approach, people don’t think in a linear fashion, which is even more true for neurodivergent folks like individuals with dyscalculia. Mind maps and their scope for creativity can help them express and map the information just like they are thinking and processing it.

They can also be used in brainstorming sessions because they allow the ideas to be mapped just as they are coming to different individuals. This allows space to come up with and express novel but unstructured ideas, which can further be crystallized to form a new strategy.

### 4. Aids in organizing thoughts

Mind maps and their flexible approach help the individual take all of their thoughts out on paper. Once all the available information is presented in a neat diagram, the individual can finally organize their thoughts and add and expand on the ideas that need more clarity.

This can be a useful tool for students with dyscalculia who might struggle with mentally representing and performing various mathematical operations. Additionally, it can be helpful in planning projects, events, timelines, etc.

### 5. Makes the information presentable

Mind maps present the information in a concise and succinct manner. They use various pictures, colors, and shapes that make the concepts seem less daunting. Individuals with dyscalculia, who often find the myriad of rules steps, symbols, and procedures in math to be quite overwhelming, can benefit from a neatly structured and appealing presentation of these topics.

The structured nature of mind maps can also make it easier for people like educators or marketers to communicate and explain ideas in an understandable and effective manner.

## The how of mind mapping

Mind maps have several benefits, especially for students with learning differences like dyscalculia, but making them requires quite a bit of effort. The steps to arriving at an effective mind map can be broken down into three:

The first step of making a mind map is to ascertain what it is going to be about. This could range from a very specific topic like “functions of the brain” to a central theme you’ve noticed during your reading like “takeaways from the Gulliver’s Travels”.

This is also the step where the individual engages in planning the layout of the mind map. A mind map can take different shapes and forms. It can look like a brain if the topic is “functions of the brain” or it could look like a regular chart with boxes and circles at the end of various branches. This gives the individual time to leverage their creativity and imagination to ensure they choose the option that will elevate their understanding and memory.

Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the central topic, about which you want to make the mind map, is placed in the center of the page. This will ensure that there is enough space left for the branches and sub-branches.

### 2. Branch it out

This is the step where the mapping begins. For each topic related to the central theme, draw a branch to represent it. This step also requires quite a bit of planning ahead. If the topic has quite a bit of subtopics that need to be covered, then there needs to be ample space around the topic to make the sub-branches for the subtopics.

Another thing to keep in mind while making the mindmaps, and branches, in particular, is to avoid long sentences, explanations, and definitions. If a  topic or subtopic requires additional information, try to add and present it in the form of sub-branches with keywords instead of full sentences.

### 3. Shapes and colors are your best friends

While making mind maps, using different shapes and colors could greatly enhance their appeal and effectiveness. Different shapes at the end of different branches could denote different levels of information or different topics. Colors could also be used in the same way or color coding can be done to elaborate on the information. For example, when making a mind map for different functions of the brain, different areas that are responsible for learning could have the same color.

Studies have shown that memory recall is greatly enhanced when the concepts are associated with images. You can either cut and paste images on your mind map on paper or you can use several apps and software that allow you to make graphic and dynamic mind maps.

## Conclusion

Mind maps are powerful educational tools that can help both learners and educators in enhancing the educational experience. At the same time, with the growing awareness of how important these are, many teachers also engage kids in some mind-mapping activities. Individuals with learning differences can especially benefit from mind maps as they can help in clarifying concepts and aid their memory and recall.

Following the three simple steps of starting from the center, branching out, and making shapes and colors your best friends can help in making these exceptional learning tools.

References

1. Kißler, C., Schwenk, C., & Kuhn, J. (2021). Two Dyscalculia Subtypes With Similar, Low Comorbidity Profiles: A Mixture Model Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.589506
1. Tee, T. K., Azman, M. N. A., Mohamed, S., Mohamad, M. M., Yunos, J. M., Yee, M. H., & Othman, W. (2014). Buzan mind mapping: An efficient technique for note-taking. International Journal of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, 8(1), 28-31.
1. Rezapour-Nasrabad, R. (2019). Mind map learning technique: An educational interactive approach. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 11(1), 1593-1597.
1. Stienen-Durand, S., & George, J. (2014). Supporting dyslexia in the programming classroom. Procedia computer science, 27, 419-430.