TouchMath: How it has made me “Numerically Challenged”

Today I paid a few bills. It didn’t take me too long because I used my trusty calculator. Looking at all the money signs and numbers on each amount due gave me anxiety and I thought, “how in the world are we going to pay all that?!” Easy.  It wasn’t as much as my eyes perceived it to be.  That’s because I cannot add, or subtract, without writing every number down and counting their “touch points”.  

The video above describes how to use TouchMath.  I was taught this system in my early Elementary days, and it has RUINED ME. To this day, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I cannot look at numbers and project what the final outcome will be without seeing those awful circles and dots.

Not only is our family budget an issue, I despise being the one who pays for the check at lunch. I wait until no one is watching, and I proceed to count my imaginary dots on each number like a three-year old.  Mumbling to myself, “One, two, three, four….dammit!  One, two, three, four, five, six.  Wait, that’s a double circle *grumble*.”  I then have to count a second time just to be sure that I didn’t miss a point. It….takes….forever.  

Math scares me because I am extremely slow at the easiest form of it.  Grocery shopping, paying bills, and making sure we have a steady budget are VERY hard for me to keep under control.  In college, math was the only subject I didn’t pass.  I took every class and was so scared to take the final that…..I just never showed up for it.  

I am terrified to get a job that involves money, counting money, or even has to do with numbers in general.  I’d be an awesome waitress, but you may never get your change!  Counting employee’s hours on their time cards used to take me about a day, sometimes two.  

The founder of the TouchMath method claims that her intentions three decades ago were to, “help banish math anxiety worldwide, whether that anxiety is born of fear, lack of comprehension, or a learning disability”.  For me it has done the complete opposite.  Thank you ma’am.


I worked as a secretary for a Collegiate Academy Charter school awhile ago, and I saw the expectations we put on kids these days to “perform”.  I saw how much pressure was put on the teachers and students to do well on big “state tests”.  The anxiety and stress of making sure all kids were up to speed was insane!  Averages and numbers needed to be high, and student’s learning capacities and skills were judged off of the outcome.  Brain cramming subjects so the kids would retain the subject matter when really, they were retracting and not grasping the fundamentals.  

For some kids shortcut methods will not continue for them, as it did not continue with me.  Get back to the basics.  I wish that teachers could truly take their time and teach, not mold students to be impressive in test taking abilities.  Word of advice to anyone out there using this method: If the teacher is teaching TouchMath, please make sure the students are also memorizing the problem.  It could take YEARS to break the habit of counting points!! This bleeds into every other math subject imaginable, and it is impossible to train the mind NOT to count those stupid dots.

As I see and hear all the hoopla about Common Core, it makes me sick. I absolutely can say without a doubt that we will be “unlearning” these habits down the road.

ONE POSITIVE NOTE:  TouchMath is a great method for those with autism, and special needs students (at least that’s what they advertise). See it, hear it, touch it, repeat it.  It is a smart, fantastic, sensory way to approach the subject.

 Thank goodness we have the artistic side of the brain!  Count me in on that!  


4 thoughts on “TouchMath: How it has made me “Numerically Challenged”

  1. Was re-reading this the other day and this thought came to mind; If we focus on those things we can not do we feel defeated but if we recognize and pursue those God given gifts we are satisfied 🙂 You my sweet daughter are gifted in many ways, music, dance and a beautiful way with words. May you continue to use those gifts and encourage others along the way. Love you


  2. Many people have had this same thing happen to them. This system you talk about is a very poor copy of my first dot math system the I made in 1966. I found that the dots on top of the number did more harm than good so I tell people : Do not put dots or anything on top of the number symbol” as I have proven it to be harmful. Most people are pleased at first as it seems to work. As you said : it can cause major problems later in life. This addition is almost impossible to break because children are taught this when they are so young. There are people working to stamp out bad math and touch math is on the top of their list. The only thing that may help you recover from dots on top of numbers is a program called
    “Dot Math for kids”. This System helps you retrain your brain by moving the dots off the numerals into a pattern around the numeral. This is a very big difference you will only begin to understand after you have graduated from the Dot math for kids system. The students in Owen Dot Math can win in a race against a calculator and can understand advanced math idea and concepts at a k-4 grade level. The web site is getting upgraded at this time so you will not be able to find it.


  3. Oh Jess… I feel SO much better after reading this! lol! I am AWFUL with numbers – TERRIBLE – terrified of anything that needs this ability. In fact most linear thought processes seem obscure to me… practical, I AM NOT.
    Hope you are doing well. FAR too long since I came around –


  4. Jess,

    I just stumbled upon this blog. I am thirty, back in college going for a degree in nursing and struggling with my chemistry prereq. I was trying to do math using the touch-point method I was taught earlier and was reminded again how much that method has set me back. Then I googled it to see if other people felt the same way, and here I am!

    I wish I could retrain my brain to learn basic math some other way, but I can’t unsee those dots! I’m sorry you, too, have been cursed with the touch-point education.



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