Dyscalculia treatment – How to effectively build math skills?

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Editorial Team


Today, we are going to talk about possible dyscalculia treatments. How can an individual overcome the daily struggle of this mathematical disability?

But first, we must know what exactly dyscalculia is.

Dyscalculia is a lifelong learning disability affecting a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts. It is seen as the mathematical equivalent to dyslexia and hence, the name – Number Dyslexia. It severely affects the life of a dyscalculic (commonly referred to as a person suffering from dyscalculia). An individual may lose the ability to visually interpret data. In severe cases, Number dyslexia may develop into math phobia.

As age progresses, it may severely hinder our ability to do day-to-day calculative tasks. Hence, it’s important that early signs must be identified and necessary counseling be undertaken.

First, let us make it clear that like other learning disabilities, dyscalculia cannot be treated with medication. Rather, specialized learning strategies and strategic accommodations are used to help children and adults with the condition.

The idea is to teach to build the student’s academic strengths and provide accommodations for the disability so that the student with disabilities (in this case, dyscalculia) can be maintained over time at an academic level with his or her peers.

The main goal is to teach calculation techniques and improve the reasoning skills needed to solve math problems. But first, it is necessary that any obstacle hindering the pace of the child’s math learning process must be eliminated. The focus is to make Maths – a fun-to-learn subject for the child.

Dyscalculia treatment at an academic place

Teachers can play an important role in improving the math learning ability of the child. We noted down some tips that schools must consider while dealing with a dyscalculic student.

Learning Approach: Teachers or personal tutors need to approach differently while teaching maths. A relaxed environment is pretty essential. The child must not be forced to be competitive right away. Give him/her time. The stress of competition can hammer any possible interest in studies, especially maths.

If possible, teachers must work out a special plan with the other school officials for dyscalculics. As they need more time in even basic calculations, more time may be provided for math tests.

Any dyscalculics may find it difficult to learn by seeing a lecture just once. It’s highly recommended to provide them with recorded lectures. Repetitive learning is the key to a strong grip on the subject. Moreover, Teachers’ notes may be provided to ease their life a bit.

Tools and Devices: Several tools and devices can effectively improve number sense. Abacus is one of them. Let them play with it. When they get a good grasp of it, encourage them to solve various maths operations through it. Award them on successful attempts and encourage them to do better on failed ones.

Let them use calculators in maths tests. When they get comfortable with the calculators, try to do mental calculations slowly.

use of calculator for dyscalculia

Give students individual dry-erase boards to use at their desks. With this tool, students can complete one step of a problem at a time, erasing any mistakes they may make.

Mental support:  Encouragement and appreciation for efforts will motivate students to perform further well in the next task. Students dealing with dyscalculia often feel frustrated or embarrassed when asked to do things — like reciting multiplication tables — that are difficult for them, especially during class or when other students are present. Talk to them about it. Encourage them to participate in other curricular activities. Don’t scold them for getting low marks, instead try to identify their specific strengths and encourage them to follow them.

Frequent classwork check: Teachers must frequently check the worksheet of the student and thoroughly analyze writing patterns. Instead of giving just the right or wrong answer, providing proper feedback on why and how is really beneficial.

Allow them to use calculators for the questions they are troubled with. If the problem with the same question arises several times, Lend a hand by breaking the solution into chunks for the child, or by doing a few problems together so he gets a sense of the required steps.

Visual presentation:  Students must be provided with as much visual presentation of the topic as possible. Our memory can retain charts and diagrams way longer than paragraphs. Help students analyze and jot down important points represented by it.

Stepwise instructions: Instructions related to maths problems must be written in steps on the board. How did we reach the solution to this equation? How did we apply BODMAS?  Everything from the question number to the solution must be written in a clear and stepwise manner.

Dyscalculia treatment at Home

Parents didn’t have to teach maths specifically but could make an environment that effectively builds strong math skills. Trying different types of support can help you and your child find the right tools for his needs

Understand behavior: Parents need to keep a check on the behavioral patterns of their child. The best treatment that you could offer — is to identify the problem early. The earlier the problem is identified, the earlier the child will adapt to a new learning process and will be able to avoid other co-occurring issues. Ask how he/she feels about the school. Which is his/her favorite subject? Which games do he/she like?

As per observations to date,  Most individuals with dyscalculia or dyslexia will show a negative attitude toward school and hesitate to speak about their favorites. Give positive encouragement whenever you can, and try not to get frustrated if your child is struggling with a basic concept — if he senses you’re upset, it will only make him more nervous and unwilling to practice.

Introduce math in day-to-day tasks: Try to teach math with real-life applications. Ask him/her — How many cars are parked? How many spoons of sugar do you want in your tea? How many sides and corners does a kite have?

Once the child gets a good grip on these, move to a little more complicated ones. Doing this repeatedly will build confidence in the child and his/her ability to analyze things both mathematically as well as visually.

Encourage extracurricular activities: Studying is important but so does the other activities. Identify areas of the child in which he/she really good at. If possible, sign up for the classes that they wish for. Extracurricular activities like dancing, singing, and basketball will loosen up their stress and help them relax.

Frequent homework checks: Parents must frequently check the homework of the student and thoroughly analyze writing patterns. Check for any odd similarities. If any, ask about it.

Students, most likely will be hesitant to talk about it. Politely tell the right way to do the questions. Do a couple of math-related questions together daily. Explain solutions clearly and in a stepwise manner. Whenever calculation gets more complex than addition or subtraction, allow the child to use calculators to make basic steps quicker and more accessible.

Self-tips to cope with the dyscalculia

If you’re an adult with dyscalculia, little adjustments can help you cope with this disorder. At this point in life, you are more likely to deal with math at a workplace or money-related activity.

Practice math through Abacus: Abacus is a manual aid for calculating that consists of beads or disks that can be moved up and down on a series of sticks or strings within a usually wooden frame. It is considered one of the best ways to develop number sense. Numbers are physically constructed and manipulated in Abacus. Practicing 10-15 minutes daily can effectively build your math calculative skills.

Abacus for dyslexia and dyscalculia treatment

Frequent use of calculator: Since you’re not being tested for mental math, it’s highly recommended that you take the help of a calculator whenever possible.  If your job requires more complex calculations, request a graphing or scientific calculator.

Plan early: Dyscalculics often have difficulty keeping track of the time. So, plan your day early. Have a reminder app that reminds you to do the respective tasks.

Do yoga and meditation: Everyone is aware of yoga’s potential for our physical and mental health. Yoga is a very effective stress reduction and relaxation tool. Yoga practice draws attention towards breathing, which produces a meditative and soothing state of mind. Practicing yoga every day for about 20 minutes can seriously improve your brain capabilities.

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