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Dyscalculia and its effects on Children’s Math Abilities

Math is one of the most complicated subjects your child will have to tackle throughout their school years and, as if that wasn’t enough, some students are having extra difficulty due to dyscalculia which is a disability that impairs a person's capacity to fully grasp number-related concepts and perform well during math lessons.

This entire situation is made even more problematic by the fact that math is a very important subject in Singapore and it is a crucial component not only within the educational system but also for many Singaporean's careers.

If you are one of those parents whose child simply doesn’t like studying math consider yourself lucky since this problem can be remedied much more easily. On the other hand, if your child truly suffers from dyscalculia they will require a different approach.

So let’s dive deeper and find out what exactly is dyscalculia and how it hinders your child’s progress in mathematics.


What is this Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that is present in various degrees in children. This condition impairs a child’s ability to grasp mathematical concepts in the same way their peers do. If a student has dyscalculia they may be manifesting some or all of these symptoms.

Children in preschool have difficulty counting the 10s, also they may find it difficult to count items in a group. They cannot comprehend the fact that numbers are used to describe growth. When counting numbers in the order they tend to skip some of them. It is hard for them to sort items based on the items' characteristics.

Children in lower primary may not be able to count by 2s, 5s, or 10s. They can't perform mental addition or subtraction.

They may also not recognize some basic mathematical signs such as plus or minus.

Children in upper primary don’t see the difference between the concepts of "more than" and "less than". They might also have difficulty doing basic math, and they may not be able to find a connection between different mathematical facts.

Such children might also not recognize certain numbers when they are written down. Sometimes they use fingers to count and they don’t know which side is left and which one is right. Children with dyscalculia also can’t participate in strategy games and usually, they can’t tell time.

Children in secondary school can’t apply the concepts they learned in math lessons to real life. For example, they have difficulty reading charts or maps and they do not participate in activities that require familiarity with the concepts of distance and speed.

If your child manifests some of these symptoms for longer than six months speak to their teacher and to a medical professional. The timely intervention might help them tackle this problem.


How to help children with dyscalculia?

If your child is diagnosed with dyscalculia then they will need your help to mitigate this predicament. When they are at home take the following steps to help your child understand math better.

1. Make up games involving math.

The best way to get your child involved in math practice and hone their mathematical skills is by making the lesson fun. You can do this by inventing a few simple games with the items you have lying around your house. For example, ask them to help you measure cooking ingredients or sort out the laundry and count the number of different clothing items. Don’t forget to praise and encourage them whenever they successfully complete the task.

2. Download fun math apps.

Almost everybody has a smartphone nowadays and it can be used to help your child grasp mathematical concepts. There are hundreds of free applications that are designed specifically for this purpose. So even if you personally don’t have the time to teach your child math they still will be able to do it with the help of a smartphone.

Check out our post on how to improve your maths algebra with these free apps.

3. Boost your child’s confidence.

Confidence is one of the key elements in achieving success in any field, and math is no exception. Encourage your child to keep going by reminding them of their past successes and highlighting their strengths. We have a list of 15 ways to build confidence in your child to help you on this issue.

4. Take notes.

Observe your child while they are doing their homework and if you notice anything peculiar about their behavior write it down. By examining your notes you will be able to see the pattern of behavior and find the appropriate solution to help your child.

Talk to other parents who are in the same boat as you. Remember you are not the only parent whose child is struggling with dyscalculia. There are many parents out there who are going through the same thing and some of them may even have children who study in the same school as your child. You can get in touch with them and discuss techniques and exchange tips on how to help your children.

5. Hire a qualified tutor.

Another strategy that may prove effective is hiring a knowledgeable and experienced maths tutor. There is a good chance that the math tutor you choose has had experience with children who struggle with dyscalculia. So they may know exactly what your child needs to make progress in this subject. Not only will the tutor help them do their homework but they may also give you some valuable tips on how to help your child at home.

6. Talk to your child’s teacher.

If you suspect that your child is suffering from dyscalculia you should definitely speak to their teacher. The teacher may have made some observations that you were not able to make at home. There’s also a chance that the teacher encountered these types of students before so they might be able to give you valuable advice on what to do.

7. Speak to your pediatrician.

If you’re worried that your child has dyscalculia raise those concerns next time you take your child to the doctor. They will help you determine if it is indeed this medical condition that prevents your child from achieving their full potential.

To conclude, although your child has a learning disability it is not the end of their academic career. With adequate help and guidance from their parents, teachers, and medical professionals children might be able to manage it. The important thing is detecting the problem early and taking action as soon as possible.

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Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.