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Common Maths Difficulties Encountered From Age 6 Upwards

Maths Word Problems

Some children struggle with the language aspects of maths. The word problem below is a simple maths sum (64 – 23 – 17 = 24). However, some children will have problems understanding the vocabulary and will not know which information is relevant and irrelevant.

'Old Mother Hubbard buys 64 tins of baked beans for her cupboard. She eats 23 tins and 17 tins are left so long they go off and she throws them away. How many tins are left?'

Common behaviour of children with language problems in maths:

• They may have difficulty with the vocabulary of maths
• They may be confused by language in word problems
• They may have difficulty understanding directions
• They may not know which information is relevant or irrelevant

How can Leaders are Readers help children with language problems in maths?

At Leaders are Readers we believe that it is important to include wordy maths problems into our teaching so that children grow comfortable with mathematical terminology and learn to pick out the key information themselves. However, we recognise that for some children these type of maths problems can look incredibly daunting; consequently, our teachers use a variety of techniques to make the weird and wonderful language of maths more accessible.

Mental Maths

Mental maths is a critical component to a balanced maths programme. Knowing how to correctly manipulate numbers in our head reinforces number sense. Without a strong foundation in number sense, children will be at a disadvantage in all areas of mathematics. When this foundation is in place, all maths processes become much quicker and simpler. It is the teacher's responsibility to create students who are "nimble with numbers" and to establish effective strategies to aid mental maths learning.

Children, including those with dyscalculia, may have trouble "memorizing" basic number facts and operational signs. Instead of automatically knowing that 3+7=10, or that 5x5=25, these children laboriously count on their fingers, and are unable to develop efficient memory strategies of their own. For some, it helps to have a maths chart as a basic fact reference. If students have the full set of answers in view and in the same location, it can help them to recall the answers on their own.