There are many reasons that children get behind others in their age group. Common issues are moving school frequently, illness, family problems and coming to this country from another. None of these reasons should be allowed to mean that children stay behind others in their class. It is important that the gaps are identified as soon as possible and that their teacher acts to help children fill those gaps.
Some children may be behind in mathematics because of particular special needs. All special needs that children experience can have a bearing on how they learn mathematics and therefore it will be important to support children carefully.
Use this table to note down how a child’s learning could be affected if they have been diagnosed with the particular special need detailed. Children who have had these conditions diagnosed will be receiving some support on account of their designated SEN. Whether or not there is a diagnosis, these children are at risk of being frustrated and ‘turned off’ from learning mathematics because of their particular difficulties. In the table below note down ideas about how teachers can help these children to take a full part in mathematics lessons.
When thinking about learning difficulties in mathematics, many people will think of Dyscalculia. However there is less consensus about this condition than there is on other conditions that are regarded as denoting additional to typical needs. Some people see dyscalculia as a rare condition caused by brain damage or malfunction, resulting in the child having no sense of number. Others consider dyscalculia as being about low attainment in mathematics, relative to standardised levels of achievement. Children, who are thought to have non-brain damaged dyscalculia, can be helped by providing personalised, catch-up teaching and treating their mathematical development as delayed, rather than permanently impaired.
In an article on the BBC Skillswise site, What is dyscalculia?, Professor Mahesh Sharma looks at what he believes it is, and also at how to work with children who may have dyscalculia.
Supporting children who are significantly ahead of the others in their class
Children who are significantly ahead of others in mathematics also have particular needs that must be addressed. Unless their needs are catered for such children can become frustrated and sometimes disruptive.
How do I support children with significant EAL issues?
Children will have English as an Additional Language (EAL) if they have been brought up in a home that routinely uses a language other than English or if they have arrived at the school from another country where they do not use English. If they have only used another language until they have arrived at school they will need to learn English in their foundation stage at school. This will require specialist teaching but it is likely that they will learn mathematical ideas in their early years along with their peers and their Early Years Foundation Stage Profile will indicate any mathematical needs that they have.
However all newly arrived children who have attended school in their home country will have studied mathematics and therefore these children could enter your school with a very diverse range of mathematical skills.
Record your thoughts on supporting children with learning challenges in your Personal Learning Space.