What is dyscalculia? According to the American Psychiatric Association, dyscalculia is a math learning disability that impairs an individual’s ability to learn number-related concepts. It also makes it tough to perform accurate math calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic math skills. Dyscalculia is sometimes called “number dyslexia” or “math dyslexia.”
“Common signs of dyscalculia include difficulties with understanding concepts of place value, quantity, number lines, positive and negative value, carrying and borrowing. In general, people with dyscalculia have poor ‘number sense,” says Marianne Sunderland, a homeschool mom and expert on dyslexia and learning differences. “As in dyslexia, dyscalculia manifests differently in different kids.”
How to Help Kids With Dyscalculia
Sunderland recommends the following tips to help students struggling with dyscalculia:
- Use concrete examples that connect math to real life, to strengthen your child’s number sense. Examples: sorting buttons or other familiar objects.
- Use visual aids when solving problems, including drawing pictures or moving around physical objects—also known as manipulatives.
- Assign manageable amounts of work so your child won’t feel overloaded. Break up assignments into smaller chunks, assign every other problem or sit with your child and take turns completing every other problem.
- Review recently learned skills before moving on to a new one. Leave time for review and explain how different math skills are related.
- Supervise work and encourage your child to talk through the problem-solving process. This helps make sure they’re using the right math rules and formulas. It also makes the process more auditory. Using another sense increases the area of the brain used to solve the problem.
- Break new lessons into smaller parts that easily show how different skills relate to the new concept, also known as “chunking.”
- Use graph paper to help keep numbers organized on the page.
- Use an extra piece of paper to cover up most of what’s on a math page. This helps your child focus on one problem at a time.
- Playing math-related games designed to help your child have fun and feel more comfortable with math.
De-Stress Math Learning
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