Tuesday, 26th October 2021

Specific Learning Difficulties - Dyscalculia

The Department for Education defines Dyscalculia as: ‘A condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence.’

Dyscalculia is like dyslexia for numbers. Common difficulties may include:

  • Counting
  • Measuring: money, time, speed, temperature etc.
  • Calculating: difficulties learning and recalling number facts, using maths rules and processes
  • Learning tables
  • Understanding maths concepts and ideas
  • Understanding prediction, estimation
  • Direction and orientation: left and right, following directions, maps
  • Visual-spatial skills: both understanding the required maths facts and also putting them down on paper in an organized way.  Understanding what is written on a board or in a textbook.  
  • Frustration, loss of confidence and low self-esteem.

There is no formal diagnostic test for Dyscalculia.  The Dyscalculic learner will always experience great difficulties with the most basic aspects of numbers and arithmetic, but is likely to be successful in other areas of learning. 

Difficulties vary from person to person and affect people differently in school and throughout life.  Young children can have difficulty learning the meaning of numbers, sorting objects by shape, size or colour, recognizing groups and patterns and comparing and contrasting using concepts like smaller/bigger or taller/shorter.  At school age, pupils are likely to find aspects of maths and number confusing and frustrating. 

Strategies to try at home
Practical strategies to try at home: 

Be positive and encouraging: build on personal strengths to help increase self-esteem and self-confidence.  

  • Be positive and encouraging: build on personal strengths to help increase self-esteem and self-confidence.   
  • Be watchful: recognise signs of stress, extreme tiredness, anxiety and isolation.  Acknowledge extra effort.
  • Be concerned: if you are concerned about lack of progress, anxiety, lack of motivation etc. approach the classroom teacher to raise your concerns.  
  • Be practical: teach through play!
  • Play games involving counting e.g. board games, dice games, card games, spinning board games which practice the basics of place value in addition and subtraction.
  • Computer games and software e.g. Number Shark which uses games to teach a variety of number concepts.
  • Use visuals and rhymes to learn maths facts e.g. singing times tables.
  • Show the meaning of counting using real objects for the child to manipulate.
  • Role play to help understand maths calculations.
  • Provide a quiet place for homework with few distractions

Stragegies to discuss with School
Practical strategies to discuss with school:

  • Establish the big picture in school i.e. how any difficulties affect learning, both academic and social.           
  • Discuss additional support needs (ASN) and establish how individual needs will be met.
  • Discuss and agree homework expectations.  Confirm the use of appropriate lined/graph paper, calculator, number square, table square, concrete articles/objects e.g. real money to help learning and completion of homework.
  • Discuss exam arrangements including exam concessions.

Motovate Offers
What can Motorvate offer?

  • Advice and support as appropriate.
  • Liaise as appropriate with parents/carers and school.
  • Group activities to help raise self-confidence and build self-esteem.



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Perth PH28DG

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