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What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is often referred to as "Maths Dyslexia".

Ironically as I typed dyscalculia into this blog, spell check didn't recognise the term, instead presented me with a charming wiggly red underline!

Similar to dyslexia, dyscalculia is neurological, is often hereditary and has zero reflection on intelligence. Due to slightly off whack brain wiring, dyscalculia makes it difficult for sufferers to make sense of numbers and the concept of maths. It sits firmly within the same Specific Learning Difficulty family as dyslexia and is thought to affect as many people, approximately 10% of the UK population. Although it has to be said that dyscalculia is less researched, tested and diagnosed.

The symptoms of dyscalculia, again similar to its cousin dyslexia, are broad and affect people in different ways. However key challenge areas include telling the time and indeed the overall concept of time including days, months and years, needing to use fingers for basic counting, times tables, managing money, transposing numbers and finally understanding literacy in maths, for example the concept of smallest to largest, tallest to shortest or greater and less than.

As with dyslexia, if strategies are applied, learning can become easier. As you would expect with a neurological disorder, children won't grow out of dyscalculia but with strategies they can learn to "manage" maths. Irrespective of age, children should be encouraged to use their fingers for counting and calculations, colours can be a great help for grouping units, tens and hundreds and applying multi-sensory methods is highly recommended.

Maths drilling, memory work (reciting the dreaded times tables), group work and time restricted worksheets should be avoided. Instead students will need to feel, touch and see maths. Use everyday items to help cement learning; pizza for fractions, patterned socks, coloured pens and pencils to help with grouping and time spent on money management will reap its future rewards.

In summary if your child struggles with seemingly basic maths, understanding and keep time, grasping the concept of estimating volume and grouping, there is a strong possibility they may have dyscalculia.

So get creative, get visual, where possible seek guidance, become informed and importantly appreciate that your child is bright and capable but just wired a little differently!

Juunipa Tutors offer expert and creative tuition for students with dyslexia and dyscalculia. Parents are also invited to join an informative live meeting with Maths and SEN expert on SAT 16 May @ 11:00. Learn more at Juunipa Tutors

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