Math difficulties often go unnoticed, or unserved during the early years, more than reading or writing difficulties, even though approximately 6% of children in school have math difficulties.
However, as students move up in the grades, it is expected in American schools that students will be proficient in math. Students must be able to pass math classes, state testing in math, and be math literate to graduate from high school. And yet, the fact is for those who struggle in math, the foundation for math skills were never achieved.
The foundations in math must be developed in order for students to be proficient and functional in math, just as foundations in language must be developed in order for an individual to be proficient in reading and spelling. A classroom teacher or homeschooling parent cannot build on a foundation that is not there.
Dyscalculia is the term used to described an individual who may have difficulty understanding numbers and learning math facts. In fact, individuals with dyscalculia may struggle with a number of areas related to math.
Symptoms may start as early as Preschool. Assessment is key to determining what foundational skills are lacking and which are intact.
- Difficulty counting or saying the numbers in the correct order
- The preschooler may not seem to connect the idea of counting to understanding the number of items being shown
- May not understand number symbols
- May struggle to understand or “see” patterns
- Has difficulty learning addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts
- May count on fingers to count
- Has difficulty with the vocabulary of math
- May have trouble understanding math tables, number lines, or other representations of numbers
- May have trouble mentally picturing numbers, symbols, or patterns
- Many of the above difficulties as well as:
- Understanding fractions
- Trouble with algebra
- Has never been able to understand place value, so trading or borrowing numbers in multidigit problems is challenging
- Has difficulty telling time
- Has difficulty with money
- May have difficulty understanding graphs, charts, that involve math concepts
- Has difficulty with word problems
- Continued difficulty keeping numbers lined up in math problems
- Continued difficulty keeping the sequence to complete mathematical problems in memory
- Difficulty with life skills that include math such as figuring out mileage, costs of projects, the amount of time worked