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Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects an individual's ability to do math. Early diagnosis can help to avoid poor school performance
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Dyscalculia in Early Childhood Education: Early Identification and Support Activities

Dyscalculia, a learning disorder that affects the ability to understand and manipulate numbers, is a growing concern in education. Early identification in children at risk of dyscalculia is essential to provide them with the necessary support and foster a healthy development in mathematics.

Dyscalculia in Early Childhood Education

Signs of dyscalculia in early childhood education

The dyscalculia diagnosis is not usually made immediately at the early childhood education stage. This normally happens when the child is more advanced in their academic development, usually around the second or third year of primary school. However, the early identification in children at risk for dyscalculia at the early childhood education stage can make a big difference in children’s academic future. This allows educators and parents to take preventative measures and offer specific strategies to address math difficulties before they intensify.

It is critical for educators and parents to look out for signs that could indicate the risk of dyscalculia. Here are some common signs that educators and parents should be aware of:

  • Difficulty Understanding Basic Number Concepts:Problems understanding and assimilating basic concepts such as counting objects, matching numbers to quantities, and understanding the relationship between numbers.
  • Problems with Number Sequencing: Difficulty understanding and remembering the sequence of numbers.
  • Difficulty with Numerical Symbol Recognition:Problems recognizing and remembering numerical symbols, such as written numbers.
  • Anxiety or Resistance to Mathematical Activities: Anxiety or resistance when tasked with mathematical activities. They may avoid engaging in games involving numbers or express frustration when faced with math-related tasks.
  • Problems with Spatial Reasoning:Challenges in spatial reasoning, which affects their ability to understand the arrangement of objects in space and the relationship between them.

Activities for children at risk of dyscalculia in early childhood education

Once the risk of dyscalculia has been identified in children, it is important to implement strategies and activities to support their development. Early intervention can make a huge difference, providing these children with the tools they need to overcome math challenges. Here are some practical activities that can be implemented to support the development of math prerequisites in at-risk children:

Interactive Numerical Games

Using board games that contain numbers and basic operations can be a fun way to improve math skills. Games such as “the goose game” or “number Jenga” can help children become familiar with numbers and develop numeracy skills through play.

Manipulation of Objects

Incorporating tangible objects into mathematical activities can facilitate understanding. Having blocks, tokens or toys that represent numerical quantities will allow children to visualize and manipulate basic mathematical concepts.

Mathematical Stories

Introducing stories that include mathematical situations can be an effective way to integrate mathematics into everyday life. Stories can be created that involve counting, addition or subtraction, encouraging the connection between language and math skills.

Including Numerical Elements in Daily Routines

Implementing daily routines with numerical elements can be an effective strategy to support children at risk of dyscalculia in Early Childhood Education. Integrating these activities into a daily routine can help children naturally develop basic math skills and provide them with hands-on experience with number concepts.

This video, published by the University of Chicago’s BIPLab, shows how parents can support their children’s early math development by incorporating math into their daily routines.


It is crucial to remember that each child is unique, and support strategies must be tailored to their individual needs. Patience and consistency are key in the mathematical development process of children at risk of dyscalculia in early childhood education stage. By working closely with educators and parents, we can build a solid foundation that prepares these children to face math challenges with confidence throughout their educational journey.

Hiwet Costa

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