Tag Archive for: SEND

Rough Guide to Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a brain-related learning difficulty that affects both children and adultsToday, we look at another condition that can affect children: dyscalculia. This is a brain-related learning difficulty that affects both children and adults. Somewhere between 3 and 6 percent of the UK population is affected and some may also have other conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism. It’s important to know that the condition can affect individuals who are highly intelligent just as much as it affects those anywhere else on the intelligence spectrum. There is no cure for dyscalculia but there are lots of ways to help those with the condition (we’ll come to some of those later). It’s also important to know that, while children with dyscalculia may have issues with numbers, they can often have wonderful skills in other areas, for example in relation to creativity, problem-solving and intuition.

N.B. For clarification, we will look at developmental dyscalculia here, not the type of dyscalculia caused by brain injury or stroke.

The Effects of Dyscalculia

A simple dictionary definition of the condition defines dyscalculia as “severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations, as a result of brain disorder.” That is rather simplistic, however. The UK’s Dyslexia Association1 describes it in greater detail:

“Dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures.”

Those with developmental dyscalculia have problems making sense of numbers, memorising arithmetic facts and making fluent and accurate maths calculations.The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as used by psychiatric professionals in the U.S., describes how those with developmental dyscalculia have problems making sense of numbers, memorising arithmetic facts and making fluent and accurate maths calculations. Clearly, such limitations can have a profound effect, including in terms of education because maths affects so many learning topics.

Signs of Dyscalculia in Children

Due to the nature of the problem, signs of dyscalculia are unlikely to become evident until a child reaches an age when they begin to learn about numbers and mathematical concepts. Once they start, however, dyscalculic children may show one or more of the following signs:

  • They may have trouble processing and understanding number concepts and, because of this, they will find it difficult to build their own skills around numeracy.
  • Difficulties might include confusion over whether one number is greater or smaller than another and even something as simple as understanding the link between, say, a quantity of three apples and the number 3. Even the link between the number 3 and the word ‘three’ could be lost on them.
  • At pre-school age, counting correctly may prove to be quite a challenge, how it applies to everyday life even more so.
  • Even the concept of what the numbers represent may be an issue.
  • Memory skills may also be affected.
  • Those with the condition may be more prone to continue using their fingers to countThey may be more prone to continue using their fingers to count, long after their peers have moved onto mental arithmetic.
  • ‘Number facts’ will not come easily to children with dyscalculia, including perhaps simple ones like two plus two.
  • Mathematical concepts like addition and subtraction (etc.) will be even more of a challenge.
  • Games and other tasks involving numbers will prove difficult. For example, keeping score in a ball game.
  • Because of all of this, children with dyscalculia may even avoid games and tasks involving numbers. The condition may cause them to have decreased self-confidence; they may become embarrassed around their peers because of their difficulties.
  • As they grow older, understanding and managing money may also become a problem.

Perhaps surprisingly, some dyscalculic children also have difficulty with a sense of direction. This could manifest itself in something as simple as a board game where they cannot grasp the rules around whether, say, a particular chess piece can move to a particular spot on the board. Similarly, some children are poorer than expected at judging distances and coordination. A link between dyscalculia and the way the brain and eyesight work together may be behind this.

Is your child exhibiting any of these symptoms?

If so, don’t automatically assume they have dyscalculia, as something entirely different could well be responsible. If you are concerned, though, speak to a doctor who may refer your child to an educational psychologist, paediatrician or other professional. Bear in mind, though, that there is no de-facto test for dyscalculia. Professional research into the condition is at only a relatively early stage.

How Dyscalculic Children Can be Helped

Speak to the childcare and teaching professionals at your childcare nursery, pre-school, school or education settingAlso, of course, speak to the childcare and teaching professionals at your childcare nursery, pre-school, school or education setting. Just like staff at Treetops Nursery, they will be able to offer some support and also keep an eye out for possible signs. It’s always important for parents and childcare/teaching professionals to be in close contact anyway. In this way, we can all have the same goals in mind, share the same learning and development plans and keep each other informed as each child progresses on their learning journey.

There are many ways children with dyscalculia can be helped. For example:

  • We can give dyscalculic children more time to complete tasks involving numbers. Giving them advanced information and assistance about such tasks will help too.
  • One-to-one help will be the most beneficial as explanations can be deeper, taken at a slower pace and repeated if required.
  • We can all give them lots of practise to build skills and confidence.
  • Larger tasks and problems involving numbers can be broken down into a series of smaller steps and tackled one at a time.
  • Visual reference can help. For example printed multiplication tables.
  • When mental arithmetic is not necessary for a task, let them use a calculator if they’re at an appropriate age for such things.
  • Important words and terms can be highlighted on any printed maths-related task. Doing so can help the dyscalculic child understand more clearly and know where to focus the most attention.
  • Special teaching strategies can help, for example using a multi-sensory approach, special tools or softwareUse of lined or graph paper can sometimes help too, so as to keep corresponding numbers in line and steps more clear.
  • Introducing special teaching strategies can help, for example using a multi-sensory approach or using special tools and software.
  • More than anything, though, it’s about catering to each child’s unique needs, including any Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). At Treetops Nursery, we excel at this with a learning and development programme that’s tailored for each individual. Using this approach brings out the very best in every child.

Looking for the Best Nursery in Willesden, or near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops is an outstanding nursery based in Willesden, close to Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green. If you have a baby or child aged up to five, do consider us for your weekday childcare. Due to the popularity of our nursery and pre-school, places are in high demand. So, to avoid possible disappointment, let us know as soon as possible if you are considering a nursery place here for your child:

Dyspraxia: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Disorder

Most people have heard of dyslexia, however the disorder known as dyspraxia is less well known. If you are a parent with children, dyspraxia is something to be aware of, so that you can look out for the possible signs. Today we’ll answer commonly asked questions about the disorder.

Q: What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a condition that impairs a person's ability to fully control motor functions, for example coordinating movement and physical activity.A: Dyspraxia is a condition that impairs a person’s ability to fully control motor functions, for example coordinating movement and physical activity. Children with dyspraxia may therefore appear ‘clumsy’. It can be anything from mild to more severe and obviously the mildest variety is hardest for parents to spot. Dyspraxia is classified as a type of Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (‘DCD’) and indeed healthcare professionals may use this terminology for the condition. They may also refer to it as a Specific Developmental Disorder of Motor Function, or ‘SDDMF’ for short.

The condition affects four times as many males as it does females and can also sometimes be found in those with ADHD, dyslexia and autism. However, as with dyslexia, dyspraxia has nothing to do with the level of a person’s intelligence.

Q: What Causes Dyspraxia?

Children with dyspraxia may appear to be clumsy.A: Dyspraxia can be something people were simply born with (that’s the developmental kind) or, for others, it was acquired through brain trauma, for example because of an injury or stroke. In this post, however, we’ll concentrate on developmental dyspraxia in relation to children.

The reasons for developmental dyspraxia are unclear, however children who were born prematurely or underweight are more prone to the disorder. There is also some evidence to suggest that it can be inherited within families who are prone to the condition. Sadly, children are also more likely to have the disorder if their mothers drank alcohol or took illegal drugs during pregnancy.

Q: What Are the Signs of Dyspraxia?

A: Children with dyspraxia may appear clumsier than their peers. They may also be less naturally good at sport and indeed may even avoid it. Picking up other skills may also be a challenge. Concentration and attention spans can be adversely affected. Following instructions can be a challenge.

Babies may exhibit unusual body positions and have trouble learning to roll or sit. Toddlers under one may adopt strange postures. Infants may be slower at learning to crawl too.

Children with dyspraxia have difficulty with a variety of physical tasks and activities.Children with dyspraxia may also have difficulty:

  • independently dressing, buttoning clothes and tying laces;
  • walking, jumping, skipping and running;
  • using writing instruments to draw and write;
  • mastering the use of cutlery to feed themselves;
  • catching, kicking and throwing balls;
  • stacking objects and playing with some toys;
  • carrying out everyday physical tasks and activities in the most appropriate order.

All of this is because they are less able to coordinate movements and physical actions as well as they would without the condition.

One knock-on effect of this is that they may not reach their development milestones as soon as others in their age group. Indeed, this can be an indicator to watch out for. However, DCD/dyspraxia is often hard to diagnose until children are at least 4 to 5 years of age.

Q: What Are the Knock-On Effects of Dyspraxia?

The posture of toddlers may be odd if they have DCD/dyspraxia.A: Due to its nature and particularly in regard to its negative effect on sports and active play skills, dyspraxia can lead to children becoming less naturally fit, with all the ramifications that brings.

The effects of dyspraxia can also make children less able to make new friends. This may make them feel a bit left out, ‘different‘ and therefore feel rather isolated. This can, in turn, also lead to lower self-esteem, reduced confidence, frustration and even behavioural problems.

Q: How is Dyspraxia Professionally Diagnosed?

A: If you think your child may be dyspraxic, contact your GP to ensure the problem is not caused by something entirely different. Also liaise with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (‘SENCo’) at your child’s childcare setting, pre-school or school, for advice and support. The GP or SENCo may refer your child to a specialist healthcare professional, for example an occupational therapist and/or paediatrician. Assessment and diagnosis is often carried out by both. Learn more about diagnosing dyspraxia and DCD in children here.

Q: Is there a Cure for Dyspraxia?

A: Although a tiny number of children who are deemed to be a little clumsy may grow out of it, there is no cure for dyspraxia for the vast majority. Some children’s challenges will improve with age, however the earlier symptoms are spotted, the sooner parents, carers, guardians and professionals can help the affected child.

Q: How Can We Help Children with Dyspraxia?

Once diagnosed, tailored help is available for children with dyspraxia/DCD.A: Once diagnosed, tailored help is available for children with dyspraxia/DCD, from a variety of specialists. Support may be needed throughout childhood, including at pre-school and school, to help optimise ability around physical tasks and processes. As every child’s challenges will be unique, a support plan will be customised for each. Support may involve a variety of professionals who will aim to help the child overcome their difficulties as far as possible and to build their confidence, self-esteem, abilities etc. The specialists involved may include paediatric occupational therapists, paediatricians, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists or a mixture of several. All will work in tandem, of course, with childcare professionals, teachers, parents and guardians. Learn more about treatment for dyspraxia here.

Q: How Does Treetops Nursery Help Dyspraxic Children?

A: As well as looking out for possible first signs of dyspraxia/DCD — and any other disorder — we will work with any specialists to play our part in any tailored support plans for affected children under our care. This may involve task- and process-oriented activities to help children overcome difficulties. As well as working with any guidance from the specialists it will, of course, involve strategic cooperation with parents, carers or guardians involved in the child’s care. In this way, everyone will be working to the same aims, using the same, shared support plans. Our Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (‘SENCo’) will also be a crucial part of formulating this plan and, indeed, one of their key roles is to promote equality of opportunity irrespective of any special educational needs or disorders (‘SEND’). In ensuring this, every child achieves personal bests in every area, becoming the very best version of themselves.

Looking for Outstanding Nurseries in Willesden, Near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery School is a popular nursery and pre-school in Willesden, NW10 (near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green). We offer outstanding childcare for babies and children aged up to 5, Monday to Friday. To express an interest, ask a question, book a tour or pre-register for a place, please get in touch: