Recognizing the signs of dyscalculia in our students is paramount to providing effective support and intervention. While occasional math difficulties are typical among children, persistent struggles may signal an underlying issue that requires attention. Here are key signs to be aware of:
General well-being: Students with dyscalculia often exhibit anxiety about attending school and taking tests. This anxiety may be accompanied by a negative self-perception regarding their intelligence. They may become withdrawn and expect to fail, showing frustration and reluctance to engage with math, which may extend to other subjects.
Doing homework: Students with dyscalculia typically spend an excessive amount of time on homework assignments and quickly become fatigued. Concentration is challenging, even for simple tasks, and they frequently seek reassurance from adults. Forgetfulness about homework tasks and difficulty explaining their work are common, often leading to emotional outbursts during homework sessions.
Typical mistakes at primary level: In primary school, dyscalculic students may struggle with spatial relationships, such as left/right and above/below. They may also have difficulty with basic numerical concepts, such as mixing up numerals or writing them as mirror images. Basic arithmetic operations, like addition and subtraction, present significant challenges, causing frustration and confusion.
Typical mistakes at secondary level: As students progress to secondary school, their math struggles may intensify, particularly in areas like multiplication, division, and fractions. They may also encounter challenges with text-based math problems and struggle to apply mathematical concepts in real-world contexts. Memory and organizational difficulties may impede their ability to retain explanations or remember previously learned concepts.
Examples of difficulties:
- has trouble with substitution exercises, e.g. ? – 8=13, or solves them incorrectly, e.g. 5-8=13
- swaps numbers around to avoid having to cross the tens or hundreds boundary, e.g. 234-236=202
- deals with times tables in a mechanical, parrot-like fashion, without any understanding of the logic behind them (they know that 5×5=25, but recite the entire 5x table from the beginning in order to answer 6×5)
- perceives 6:3= and 3:6= as the same sum
- does not understand the significance of periods in decimal fractions and calculates that 1.6 + 1.6 = 2.12
For students displaying signs of dyscalculia, intervention is critical. The Calcularis app offers targeted support to help students overcome their math difficulties. By focusing on areas such as number processing, orientation on the number line, automatisation, and self-concept, Calcularis can help students build confidence and improve their math skills.
As educators, it's essential for us to proactively identify and support students with dyscalculia. By understanding the signs and utilizing resources like Calcularis, we can create a supportive learning environment where all students can thrive.