Samantha’s math homework was a nightly battle, always ending in frustration and tears. Her mother would watch helplessly as simple math problems seemed to overwhelm her daughter.
Samantha had just finished 2nd grade but struggled to keep up with her peers in math. They decided to meet with her teacher.
Samantha’s teacher told them she suspected Samantha had Dyscalculia, a specific learning disability in mathematics. They were relieved to discover things they could do simple dyscalculia strategies with her at home.
The journey ahead would be challenging, but with the right tools and approaches, they were optimistic about Samantha’s future.
Does Your Child Have Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects a child’s:
- Number sense
- Number recognition skills
Read more here about dyscalculia signs to look for in your child.
Every child is different; therefore, treatment should fit each child’s unique needs.
The first step is to get a Dyscalculia diagnosis through assessments from the school or pediatrician. Then you can start on the various therapies and strategies to help!
5 Dyscalculia Strategies You Can Do At Home With Your Child
Although most children have deficits in different areas of math, the following dyscalculia strategies can be used for all children struggling with math (with and without the disorder).
#1 Use Your Child’s Favorite Activities to Apply Math
First, inventory your child’s favorite activities, such as:
- Board games
- Video games
Use those activities to reinforce math concepts.
For example, incorporate sports stats into any game you and your child watch.
Ask questions about:
- Score changes
- Yards gained or lost
- The number of strikes and hits for each player in a baseball game
- Time or innings remaining in the game
It doesn’t have to require paper and pencil. Just learning math in a fun way is all that’s needed!
#2 Use Everyday Items as Manipulatives
This can include food or play items like:
- Cheerios or any other cereal your child likes
- Orange or apple slices
- Pizza slices
- Legos, blocks, or cubes
For example, give your child some food items during mealtimes and ask them to count them up, add more, or take them away.
It should be fun as well as instructive.
#3 Look for Ways to Use Math in Whatever You Are Doing
If you are playing, cooking, building, woodworking, painting, etc., with your child, look for opportunities to incorporate math concepts.
Introduce fractions when cooking or baking. Incorporate counting, adding, and subtraction skills when playing board games.
Such as, “You moved three more spaces on the board. How many spaces have you moved so far?”.
Attach colored cubes and make multiples of 2, 3, 4, and 5… using a distinct color for each. Then practice multiplication and division facts using the groups of cubes.
Let your child guide what activity they enjoy and fit math concepts into it wherever you can.
#4 Use movement
Another dyscalculia strategy is to use movement with math concepts. Make some large dice cubes out of old boxes. You can buy these types of cubes online with plastic covers and zippers to change the content on the inside cube.
Write numbers on each side of the cubes. Roll one cube and then the other to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. Use any math concept that aligns with your child’s needs.
Use outdoor play to encourage an appreciation for math.
For instance, how far your child can run from one spot to another.
Enter each time and then do other activities such as:
- Find the best time
- Average time
- Difference between the fastest and slowest time
Look for other opportunities (follow your child’s lead) to incorporate exercise and math.
#5 Turn Math Into a Fun Art Project
Children love art activities. After presenting your child with a math problem, encourage them to draw out the problem by making up a story about it.
For example, for 5 x 8
“Melissa had five bouquets of flowers with eight flowers in each bouquet. How many flowers did she have altogether?”
If your child loves art, this could be a fun way to encourage math skills and have something unique to put on the refrigerator!
Have your child build numbers with Pla-Doh; they can make them freehand or use an outline. They can use finger paint, shaving cream, or flour to reinforce math concepts.
Keep in Mind
Having a child with Dyscalculia can be stressful for a family. A child may need continuous reassurance that they are not stupid or bad because of their disability.
It is important to reinforce the idea that Dyscalculia is a challenge but not a defining characteristic.
Everyone has strengths and challenges. Many people, from scientists and mathematicians to authors, Oscar winners, musicians, and sports figures, have learning disabilities.
Tell your child you notice their hard work and encourage them to continue learning. Since anxiety and other conditions can accompany Dyscalculia, remain open to asking for and receiving assistance.
Many professionals can help, like doctors, counselors, and educational professionals.
Teachers can employ many valuable resources at school while you reinforce number sense and math concepts at home.
These articles may also be helpful:
- Academic Regression in School What You Need to Know as a Parent
- 27 Brilliant Summer Math Activities for Kids (That Doesn’t Feel Like Schoolwork)
- Important Signs Of Learning Disabilities You Need To Know As A Parent
- How to Best Advocate For Your Child in Special Education