A Guide On How To Support A Child With Dyscalculia In The Classroom

How To Support A Child With Dyscalculia In The Classroom

Dyscalculia, a specific learning difficulty that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn maths facts, is not as widely recognised as dyslexia.

However, its impact on a child’s education can be just as profound.

If you’re a teacher with a child in your class who has dyscalculia or a parent with a child who has recently been diagnosed with the condition, this article is for you.

In this guide, we will provide teachers with practical strategies to support a child with dyscalculia in the classroom, offering insights into creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment.

And, if you’re a concerned parent, you can arm yourself with this action plan and have a chat with your child’s school.

An Overview Of Dyscalculia

Before we get into some support strategies, it’s important to understand what dyscalculia is.

It’s a specific learning difficulty that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills.

Children with dyscalculia may struggle with understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures.

Children with the condition can exhibit anxiety when faced with maths and numbers tasks.

See also: Is dyscalculia a disability?

Identifying The Signs

Early identification can be beneficial, and, as a teacher, you may be one of the first to notice the signs.

Signs of dyscalculia in children include difficulty understanding concepts of place value, number sequences, and basic arithmetic problems like addition and subtraction.

These difficulties are not due to a general developmental delay or a lack of intelligence, which is very important to be aware of.

How Can I Help Dyscalculia In The Classroom?

Good educators are driven by a desire to help all children learn, regardless of any difficulties they may have, so this question is pivotal for teachers with a child suffering from dyscalculia.

The key is to create a learning environment that acknowledges the challenges faced by children with dyscalculia and provides support to overcome these.

This involves adapting the teaching style a little and using clear, concise instructions.

We also recommend avoiding overwhelming the child with too much numerical information at once – it’s important to work at the child’s pace.

Tailored Teaching Techniques

Adapting teaching methods can make a huge difference to a child with dyscalculia.

This might include:

  • Visual Aids: The use of visual aids like number lines, diagrams, and coloured blocks can help in making abstract concepts more tangible.
  • Interactive Learning: Incorporating games and interactive activities focusing on basic maths skills can be beneficial.
  • Step-by-Step Approaches: Breaking down math problems into smaller, manageable steps can make them less daunting.
  • Real-Life Examples: Applying math to real-life situations can help make the subject more relatable and understandable.

Encouraging A Growth Mindset

Promoting a growth mindset is essential. It’s important to encourage effort over success and to praise the child for their persistence.

This approach helps in building confidence and resilience – traits which may well be lacking in a child with dyscalculia.
Individual Support

One-to-one support can be invaluable for children with the condition.

This could involve extra time with a teacher or learning support assistant, or a tutor who specialises in teaching children with learning difficulties.

Having someone on hand who understands dyscalculia and the difficulties the child may face and can be there to answer questions and provide extra support can make all the difference in the child’s learning journey.

Collaborative Learning

Encouraging group work where children can learn from their peers can also be beneficial.

This not only helps with learning but also in developing social skills.

It’s important to consider how you pair the children – a child with dyscalculia will benefit most from a supportive and understanding group of peers.

Using Technology

There are numerous options for educational software and apps designed to help children with dyscalculia.

These tools often use games and other engaging methods to teach mathematical concepts in a more accessible way.

Regular Assessment And Feedback

Regular assessments to track the child’s progress are important.

Feedback should be constructive, focusing on the child’s effort and improvement rather than just on correct answers.

Involving Parents And Caregivers

Engaging with parents and caregivers is crucial. They can provide valuable insights into how the child learns best and can continue support strategies at home.

The more communication between teachers and caregivers, the more supported a child will be.

Teacher Training And Awareness

Finally, teachers and staff should be trained to understand dyscalculia and its implications.

Awareness among all staff helps in creating a supportive school environment.

It can also be beneficial as teachers can spot the early signs of dyscalculia in their students and discuss them with parents.

Continuing The Hard Work At Home

Once a solid teaching strategy is in place to support a child with dyscalculia in the classroom, it’s important to continue the hard work at home.

This is why it’s so important for there to be open communication between parents and schools so that strategies and progress can be shared.

Parents can continue to adopt the teaching strategies that work well for their child at home – using them when supporting the child with homework.

We would encourage parents to lean on the technology available to support their child – engaging them in math, and number-related games can be a gentle way to continue their learning and continue to build their confidence.

Further reading: How Can I Get My Child Tested For Dyscalculia?

Our Final Thoughts

Supporting a child with dyscalculia in the classroom requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to adapt teaching methods.

By using tailored techniques and creating a supportive learning environment, educators can significantly aid the academic and personal development of children with dyscalculia.

Teachers should never underestimate the impact they can have on a child – providing the right support and environment to allow a child with dyscalculia to succeed can set them up with the right tools to continue to overcome their challenges in later life.

And remember, every child has the potential to succeed in mathematics with the right support and encouragement.

If you’ve read this article and you have some questions about whether or not your child has dyscalculia or would like to discuss the support available, please get in touch.