Dyscalculia interferes with one’s ability to recognize and process numbers and establish numeric relationships. Various life skills become difficult to learn due to this learning disability. One such skill is budgeting that primarily involves numbers. Even those not diagnosed with dyscalculia show a lag in budgeting skills. Reasons can be many including ineffective teaching, absence in school, poor health to other learning disabilities like dyslexia. Let’s explore in this post how budgeting skills in particular are affected by dyscalculia.
Implications of poor budgeting skills
Dyscalculics don’t struggle just in school but also face certain difficulties in managing life beyond premises. They display difficulties in math reasoning, measurement, and have typically low confidence while dealing with money matters.
Here are a few implications of lacking budgeting skills:
- People don’t qualify for jobs that demand intelligent handling of money and budgeting
- In personal life too, they find it difficult to plan expenses. It may lead to unfair distribution of money among expenses of daily and long-term nature
- Lack of budgeting skills cause increase dependence on others; it makes dyscalculics prone to getting duped or taken advantage of.
Early identification and intervention are our best friends in tackling the struggle with budgeting in children, as with all learning disabilities.
We are going to discuss the following things. How to approach an individual with dyscalculia in a way it’s beneficial both for the family and the individual. Some activities we could use to deal with initial math anxiety in children. And how we can create a culture of math in our homes to promote all-rounded mathematics skills in our children.
Supports available to diagnose budgeting skills
It’s only in schools that children get introduced to structured play. That is when they learn proper mathematical concepts. While some easily acquire skills related to math, some struggle to make a connection between their lessons. Many individuals that struggle with mathematics would admit that their difficulties started in their childhood.
Good News is individuals with dyscalculia resolve most of their difficulties, including budgeting with suitable intervention. The process starts with identifying at-risk students and diagnosing their difficulties. Specialist tutors and educational psychologists could help us with diagnosis (Trott 412-416). They could also share their expertise in diagnosing other sensory issues, giving referrals of sub-specialists, providing support to the family and child, and directing them to appropriate learning resources related to learning disabilities.
Effective intervention strategies to build budgeting skills in dyscalculics
To help children with dyscalculia who specifically have problems related to money and budgeting, introduce them early on to the value of bills and coins. You could play with your child and show him how to count fingers and then move on to adding and subtracting them. This would be their early introduction to addition and subtraction, which are key principles of budgeting.
‘Buying and selling’ role-play is another game you could play to introduce the concepts of budgeting to your child. You could give them some bills and coins and a shopping list, and switch between the role of customer and shopkeeper.
Every time you take your kid to the mall or a shopping center, teach him how he could spend and save money on items. Help him understand the value of budgeting. You could also suggest they save money in a jar for whatever he needs in the future. Ask him to keep an account of how much he has saved and how much more he needs to buy the desired product.
Allow him to spend what he saved on something of his choice. It doesn’t have to be a luxurious product. Even with a small product like a toy gun, your child would understand how much time it takes to save enough money to make the purchase.
As a suggestion, you could also encourage the child to donate some money so he could cover the cost of someone’s meal. Maybe through this practical example, he would understand the value of money and how it could translate to food and shelter at places.
How to make math more enjoyable?
Children need to master number sense, counting, and calculation skills to acquire well-developed math-based activities like budgeting. An individual with dyscalculia however needs some extra support in the same direction. The key is to structure the practice and support that’s compatible with the child. Children with dyscalculia could gain much from it with such an approach.
Let’s look at steps one can take to bring fluency in counting and money management by giving extra practice at home
1. Expose them to the mathematical concepts early on
Introduce simple mathematical concepts as early as you could make the connection with the child. There is no ideal time but the earlier the better. This could be done in a variety of ways. You could show him or talk to him about simple concepts. For example, you could show the baby how to add the number of fingers and then help him count his number of fingers.
2. Buy them toys related to mathematics
There is no scarcity of options when it comes to mathematical toys in the market. When you think your child is ready to play with such toys, introduce him to some mathematical puzzles, anything that you think your child would enjoy. Introducing them to an early mathematical toy would make the children open to learning and remembering mathematical concepts.
3. Consistently match the challenge to the capacity
Real progress is made when a child is challenged as per his possessed qualities. You challenge them more, they get frustrated. You challenge them with an easier prospect, it would bore them to sleep. The key is to consistently match the level of their capacity to the challenges you offer them. As a parent or educator, you should acknowledge that a child’s progress in mathematical concepts is slower than average. So be prepared to keep the pace slow. And keep going.
4. Note down the points of difficulties
Each child is different. Some may enjoy counting games and others could be put to sleep with the same set of activities. We need to be proactive in terms of picking these activities for our children. Keeping a regular check on whether the kid is enjoying the activity or not, or if they are facing difficulty is crucial to their development. Once you find a difficulty, first tackle it with your own understanding but if the child seems rigid against it, consult an expert.
5. Enjoying the time with the child
No matter at what pace the child is progressing through his activities. Your child and you need to enjoy the time together. The more you enjoy together, the more your children will return to the activities, the more they will progress through their lessons. Build a comfortable space at school and home where children can exercise the math concepts as well as have fun with each other.
Budgeting is an immensely important skill for everyone. It is an excellent marker to ensure children’s success in the future (Queensland University of Technology 20).
However, teaching budgeting to a child with dyscalculia demands a lot of work. There would be times when the child would not progress as per your expectations, and there would be occasions when they would demand more time than you can afford to give them. However, what’s important is that as a parent and educators, we focus on what’s our overall objective, which is supporting your child through their learning disability and helping them surpass it.
Many individuals who struggle with budgeting, as well as dyscalculia, have successfully overcome their difficulties with support and thoughtful intervention. We all have the potential to overcome the challenges we struggle with. And this is no different.
- Trott, Clare. “Dyscalculia in higher education.” The Routledge International Handbook of Dyscalculia and Mathematical Learning Difficulties, 2014, pp. 412-416.
- Queensland University of Technology. “An overview of dyscalculia.” Methods for ascertaining and accommodating dyscalculic children in the classroom, 2007, p. 20. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ776577.pdf.
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