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How dyscalculia and maths difficulties can impact learning in other subjects

Summary

Children will often struggle in their maths lessons, but it is often underestimated how maths difficulties can impact on other subject across the curriculum from Science to Music. Here are some examples of where learners with dyscalculia and maths difficulties can struggle across the curriculum.

By Monika Calatayud

How do maths difficulties impact learning across the curriculum?

Children will often struggle in their maths lessons, but it is often underestimated how maths difficulties can impact on other subject across the curriculum from Science to Music. Here are some examples of where learners with dyscalculia and maths difficulties can struggle across the curriculum.

Science

Children with maths difficulties are likely to struggle remembering how to calculate an average, working out the scale for a graph, rearranging equation triangles (speed = distance/time) and drawing angles using a protractor when learning about light. They also might find any task that involves measurements, drawing a graph or bar charts, timing an experiment and predicting numerical outcomes that requires application of maths skills more challenging.

Geography

OS mapping and data analysis can be challenging, as pupils cannot interpret data correctly and are not able to pick up trends of whether there are substantial increases or decreases in graphs or have difficulty reading two sets of graphs. Maths skills are vital in many aspects of geography: numbers for measurement (temperature, distance), coordinates (latitude/longitude), comparative data, numerical data for contextual information and scaling coefficients.

Music

Music is full of numbers – pitch, tempo, timing and structure of music. Notes have names and lengths. For example, semibreves are whole notes which represent four crotchets and lasts for four beats, minims are 1/2 notes which represent two beats, crotchets are 1/4 notes, quavers are 1/8 notes, semi-quaver are 1/16 notes. Then we also have dotted notes, which are 1½ the length of the ‘original’ note (e.g. dotted quaver has a length of ½ + ¼ = ¾ beats). The notes also have a pitch defined by their position on the stave, and once more depending on the clef (e.g. a note in first space on the treble clef is F, but on the bass clef is A). A lot of visual information needs to be perceived and processed simultaneously, which can easily overload working memory in dyscalculic learners, impeding their ability to read musical notations. They may also have difficulties spotting patterns and sequencing in music.

Art, Design and Technology

Maths skills are applied in these subjects in a practical, hands-on way where difficulties become easily apparent. DT projects require children to carefully follow steps, measure and cut precisely and assemble pieces together. Perspective, symmetry, and patterns as concepts in Art will be obvious for some children, yet for dyscalculics will present difficulties.

Sports and games

Weaknesses in timings, directions, score keeping, spatial orientation will most likely to be the areas that present children with difficulties.Difficulties understanding and communicating through abstract language will make coding and understanding the structure of the program challenging.

A picture titled maths in the curriculum showing sketches of where maths might be used for Science, Geography, Art, PE and sports, Music and ICT. This means those with dyscalculia can have significant challenges across the curriculum.

However, as we are gaining awareness of dyscalculia and maths difficulties, we are also developing strategies to overcome or limit its impact and help pupils thrive in all subjects and life!

Follow the Dyscalculia Network on social media for lots of top tips to help! https://www.facebook.com/dyscalculianetwork/

Learn more about Monika here – https://www.dyscalculianetwork.com/assessor-tutor/monika-calatayud/

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