How to teach maths to a child with Dyscalculia

Written by alison williams Google
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How to teach maths to a child with Dyscalculia
A child with dyscalculia will struggle with maths concepts. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Children with dyscalculia will find it difficult to acquire the skills they need in arithmetic. They will struggle with grasping numerical concepts and with the acquisition of number facts and procedures. The British Dyslexia Association estimates that between 3-6% of the population suffer from the condition and that between 50-60% of those with dyslexia will also have difficulties with maths. Educators need to be aware of the needs of those students that have dyscalculia and must provide the right support and learning strategies needed to enable these students to succeed.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Information from specialist organisations such as the British Dyslexia Association and the Dyscalculia Centre.
  • Guides and handbooks on the subject (available from
  • Maths cards
  • Counters
  • Blocks
  • Bead strings
  • Abacus
  • Clock faces with movable hands
  • Modelling clay
  • 3D shapes
  • Number lines

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  1. 1

    Secure basic skills. Recognising numbers is the first skill that needs to be learned before children can progress further. Use modelling clay to shape numbers. Make cards showing brightly coloured numbers for children to recognise..

  2. 2

    Recite number order. Play counting games and sing counting songs to really embed this knowledge. Remember that songs and games are fun and having fun is a real incentive in children’s earning.

    How to teach maths to a child with Dyscalculia
    Counting games and songs can reinforce number knowledge. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Get moving. Have children march, counting their steps as they go. This physical movement helps to reinforce learning. Incorporate the early steps of subtraction too by walking backwards and counting backwards as you go.

  4. 4

    Be hands on. Have blocks, bead strings, toy cars; anything and everything that is fun to look at, pick up and count. Use an old-fashioned abacus – children enjoy counting the beads and moving them around.

    How to teach maths to a child with Dyscalculia
    Use hands-on activities. (Polka Dot/Polka Dot/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    Reinforce everything. Overlearn continuously in order to ensure that number facts, concepts and procedures are firmly embedded.

  6. 6

    Have realistic expectations. Children with dyscalculia will take longer to learn but they will get there if you allow them achievable realistic targets.

  7. 7

    Make sure you give plenty of praise. This will build self-confidence and children will want to try harder in order to achieve more and be praised more.

    How to teach maths to a child with Dyscalculia
    Giving praise and support will build confidence. (Jupiterimages, Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Adapt your teaching methods. Whole class numeracy sessions just don’t work for children with dyscalculia and expecting them to join in and answer questions in front of others will cause them embarrassment and put them off maths.
  • Be sensitive when planning and take each child’s needs into account.
  • Never be cross with a child because they get an answer wrong or don’t understand. You will only cause them to fail further.

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