More than half of children who have dyslexia also have dyscalculia (a comparable difficulty with numbers). The ways to tackle dyscalculia difficulties are similar to those for dyslexia.

Begin by reading the information on challenges faced by children with dyslexia and dyscalculia across the curriculum and at all levels, plus the suggestions for inclusion.

Dyslexia creates additional challenges for a child in numeracy:

  • Difficulty counting backwards and forwards, especially in twos and threes.
  • They will find the recall of number facts very difficult and will struggle to see that if 2 +3 =5 then 3 + 2 = 5, or 5-3 = 2 so 5-2 = 3.
  • There will be difficulty in understanding place value: the concept of zero as denoting place value is abstract and hard to understand. Place value is the value a digit has depending on where it is placed in a number. For example for the number 3 the value of 3 is simply 3, but in the number 30 the value of the digit 3 is now three tens. It is the position of the zero that tells us that. Measurements and units will be confusing and seem illogical and there will be problems with spatial orientation, particularly with left and right which impacts on using charts and tables.
  • Children with these difficulties will be reluctant to answer questions in class and will need lots of support and strategies.

You can:

  • Ensure that basic concepts are over-learnt, through much repetition so that they are thoroughly embedded. Refer back to them, if relevant, before moving on to new concepts.
  • In order to support the concept of place-value try using columns, preferably with different colours so they can be distinguished separately, and ascribe a place value to the column (tens and units, or hundreds, tens and units).
  • Try using colour coding for number lines or number squares.
  • Set times tables to music with a catchy rhythm (let the class do this themselves as a mini-project).
  • Use practical methods to establish concepts wherever possible and move forwards in small steps. Use foam or wooden numbers so the child can handle them for sensory input. Use objects that can be counted out; Cuisenaire rods or whatever the school uses.
  • Use rhymes or a descriptive phrase while writing numbers, to help reinforce the shape to the child. 
  • As with Asperger’s, try to make learning relevant to a special interest the child may have. Put new concepts in context as to how they are useful, so the child can see there is a point to them and to aid understanding.
  • Use buddies who can support shared practical work.
  • Have a key maths vocabulary sheet displayed in the classroom (use illustrations) and introduce it in advance of the lesson.
  • Use consistent language so the child does not get confused by changes in terminology.
  • Try tinted paper or overlays to help with reading tables and charts.
  • Give masses of praise and be enthusiastic. Teachers who enjoy maths usually have pupils who enjoy maths and vice-versa.

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