Some children have difficulty in understanding maths because of gaps in their understanding; others because they have specific difficulties in grasping number concepts.
Gaps in learning can occur for all sorts of reasons – illness, lack of attention one day etc, which make it difficult for knowledge to be added to it, due to the sequential nature of maths. For example, if you know your number bonds to 10 (which combinations of 2 numbers make 10) it’s really easy to then link this to 20 (19 +1, 3 +17) and 100 (30+70). If the number bonds are missing, it’s incredibly hard to pick up the more advanced learning.
However, some children have specific difficulties in learning maths. There is a cluster of issues that can point to dyscalculia – a specific difficulty in learning maths:
These include difficulties in recognising patterns in maths (e.g. the end 5 and 0 digits in the 5 times table), how big a number is (e.g. £20 can be seen as smaller than £15.72 because it has fewer digits), telling the time, ability to estimate logically (can show as ‘wild’ estimates that vary hugely),strategies to solve problems that are immature (e.g. older primary children sharing using pictures or cubes when written methods would be more usual).
One key indicator can be how instantly children can say how many objects there are. (This is age dependent, but most year 5 or 6 children would be able to look at 5 counters and say that there are 5 without counting. This is called subitising.) If a child (or adult) cannot do instantly without counting them, it can be part of the cluster of behaviours that points to dyscalculia.
Helping children overcome missing gaps and/or dyscalculia needs specific teaching to help them link maths ideas to their written form; it is hugely helped by 1 to 1 tutoring by a maths tutor, maths teacher or school intervention.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues, please contact Rachel Law on 01223 858421 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Dyscalculia screening, click the link.