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What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a lifelong condition that makes it hard for children to do maths related task and causes severe difficulities in learning about numbers and arithmetic.


So what might this look like for someone that has this condition?

  • Have difficulity in understanding simple number concepts

  • Lack an intuitive grasp of nimbers and have no natural 'feel' for quantities and number patterns

  • have problems learning number facts

  • Lack confidence in all areas of number and see themselves as unable to do maths

  • Have problems remembering how to do certain operations and may have to re-learn them ifthey are not used in a while

  • They may find it hard to see the structures within numbers - for instance, 12 is 12 ones, but it is also 1 ten and 2 ones. 

It is  not as well known or understood and dyslexia, but some experts believe it is just as common.

It's important not to confuse dyscalculia with maths anxiety. Lots of us have maths anxiety and believe that we cannot do maths. People with dyscalculia can react strongly to activities involving mathematics, for instance they may get upset or frustrated when playing board games.

Remember, we all can struggle with maths at some time. Those with dyscalculia will struggle to a greater extent than their peers, an their difficulities will continue over time.

So what are the signs to look for when they are at school age?


They might have troube learning to coun and will often skip numbers.

They might not seem to understand the concept of counting - if yu ask for 5 blocks, they might just hand over a group without counting.

They might struggle to recognise patterns, like smalleest to largest or tallest to shortest.

Linking number symbols to amounts or words. Like making the connectionbetween '7' and the amount or the word seven.

They may struggle to connnect a number to an object, such as knowing that '3' applies to groups of thins like 3 sweets, 3 cars or 3 blocks.

Age 5 to 11+

Will often have  difficulty learning and recalling basic math facts, such as 2 + 4 = 6.

Uses fingers to count instead of using mental maths (remember there is nothing wrong with using  fingers no matter what age you are).

Will get math signs confused like + and -  and does not always use them correctly.

Words like 'greater than and less than' can be difficult to understand.

May have trouble with place value, often putting numbers in the wrong column.

May struggle with math concepts like 17 + 5 is the same as 5 + 17.

Has problems subtracting numbers and  finds it difficult to count back.

Can have a tough time understanding math language and coming up with a plan to sole a math problem.

What can you do to help?

All children that lack confidence in maths will benefit from these ideas. If your child lacks confidence in theri own ability in math, it might mean that they have a very poor understanding of the basics.

Go back to the basics and help them gain that full understanding before moving on. Help them to start enjoying math.

You need to work at your child's pace and find ways of building up the key basic understanding in math. This is a difficult task because repetitive practice of ordinary number task does not help dyscalculic children. In other words you will have to find ways of leaning the same concepts with different activities.

Concrete Learning

Numbers are very abstract. Anyone that is having trouble with maths will benefit from using concete materials.

Numicon is great for anyone struggling with number. It is very visual

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