One of the compulsory subjects in school is mathematics. Wherever children attend school, this subject will always be there and cannot be avoided. The purpose of compulsory mathematics is so that students will be able to count and apply it in life as adults. In general, mathematics consists of the concepts of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication which will get more and more complicated with the level of education. Not everyone is lucky to learn mathematics easily, especially if they don’t understand the theory. However, problems in learning mathematics can also be triggered by a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to learn mathematics, which is known as dyscalculia.
The word discalkulia comes from the Greek word Dyscalculis which means ‘Cannot count’. Dyscalculia is also known as “math difficulty”, which is a disruption in your mathematical calculation ability, which is divided into calculation and calculation difficulties. Children usually show difficulty in understanding mathematical processes, marked by difficulty learning and doing tasks related to mathematical numbers or symbols. According to Lerner (1998) there is a link between numeracy disorders and the central nervous system. The child will show difficulties in understanding a concept or a series of mathematical processes.
Causes of Dyscalculia
It is estimated that people with dyscalculia make up about 3 to 6 percent of the world with different IQ levels. There are several opinions that often link dyscalculia with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), referring to a study that resulted in a quarter of the dyscalculia studied also had ADHD. Until now, the only explanation why dyscalculia can be experienced by 3 to 6 out of 100 people is due to genetic factors. Some of the factors that cause dyscalculia that come from within the child, namely:
- There are abnormalities in the brain, especially in the connection between the pariental and temporal in the brain.
- There are weaknesses in the visual process or visualization skills and spatial disturbances or disturbances in the ability to understand spatial shapes so that children find it difficult to focus on subjects, especially mathematics. Also know the characteristics of dyslexia and the characteristics of children who lack concentration .
Characteristics of dyscalculia
In general, people with dyscalculia are children, but the type of learning disorder in children is not specific to a certain age. Children can be known to have dyscalculia or not when they reach school age, they also usually have a normal IQ, even high enough to exceed the average. Children can follow other lessons that require logic and memorization, and can also interact normally. Children with dyscalculia can show various characteristics of children with dyscalculia as follows:
- Difficulty in carrying out mathematical processes that can be seen from difficulty doing tasks with numbers or mathematical symbols.
- It is difficult to use the concept of time such as ‘now’, ‘yesterday’, ‘earlier’, and so on, it is difficult to sort the past and present. Sometimes experience disorientation in time and direction, unable to read maps or directions.
- Less understanding of unit values, tens, hundreds and so on.
- Difficulty focusing on math but able to speak normally, write, read, or verbally, and be able to remember previously read written sentences with good visual memory.
- Difficulty playing or doing sports related to the scoring system.
- Always give inconsistent answers when asked questions related to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Having difficulty calculating daily transactions when shopping including counting change, being afraid of holding money, avoiding transaction activities or any activity that involves the use of money.
- It is difficult to understand the numeric notes in music lessons so it is difficult to understand the notes, sequence of notes and how to play musical instruments too.
- Difficult to perform various mathematical processes such as adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying and also difficult to understand the concept of counting numbers or the concept of sequence.
- Confused about two numbers that look almost the same and have difficulty using a calculator.
- Often experience obstacles in calculating numbers such as doing the substitution process, repeating the reverse, filling in arithmetic series and filling in measuring series.
Learning Media To Overcome Dyscalculia
To overcome the problem of dyscalculia in children is usually done with psychological therapy, but besides that there are various learning media for children with dyscalculia that can be used as follows.
- Graph Paper
Using graph paper for children with dyscalculia, it is difficult to organize their ideas on paper, because children’s creativity is greatly influenced by their imaginative abilities. Inviting children to pour their ideas on graphic paper will make it easier for children to conceptualize what is on their mind. Also know the psychological factors in learning difficulties and the role of psychology in overcoming learning difficulties .
Using various objects to help solve children’s numeracy problems, for example marbles as a learning medium for children with dyscalculia. Use marbles to represent numbers and teach children the concepts of division, subtraction, addition and multiplication.
Provide a variety of concrete examples to the most abstract examples. Learning media for children with dyscalculia that can be used for the counting method are fingers. Using fingers to teach children to count has become the basic and most practical way of learning.
Using cards can also be a learning medium for children with dyscalculia. Get a pack of number cards and use only the numbers one through five. Shuffle and place the five cards face down, and the rest of the cards are put face down in the bottom right corner. Take two cards that add up to the number 6 and say them aloud. Fill in the two empty card holders with the new cards from the top rank and keep going until the child has finished the cards that are still covered in the correct order.
In several articles, it is stated that the most suitable learning media for children with dyscalculia is in the form of game applications. The concept of this game was developed by inviting children to recognize letters and numbers and how to distinguish them. Children will also be invited to memorize certain letters and numbers that are difficult for them, answer questions and also count by being given basic math problems. This game application was developed using an analysis methodology for children with dyscalculia and dyslexia, looking for suitable concepts to be used in making game designs and their backgrounds.
- Color Paper
Color paper can be a learning medium for children with dyscalculia who find it difficult to recognize basic spatial shapes such as circles, triangles, squares and rectangles. The shapes of these shapes can be drawn on colored paper and cut out to introduce terms in the shapes such as diameter, distance, length, diagonal. In this way the concept of ‘half’ or ‘quarter’ can also be introduced to the child.
- Mathematical Tables
Tables of multiplication, division, addition or subtraction can also be a learning medium for children with dyscalculia that will help children visualize numbers and their numbers. Children will find it easier to imagine concrete numbers by looking at the tables and entering them into logical thinking.
Strategy for Educating Discalculia Children
Apart from using learning media for children with dyscalculia, several new strategies developed to help children’s learning also need to be known. Ways that can be done to teach children dyscalculia include:
- Provide more concrete examples to ensure a solid understanding of the child before moving on to more abstract material. This will help children with dyscalculia to be able to visualize concepts. Likewise, when giving story questions, use tools that can help children visualize concepts, shapes or patterns.
- Build a positive self-attitude so that children can learn mathematics. Avoid saying that the child really can’t learn math because of the offspring of the father and mother, because in fact everyone can learn mathematics to some degree, as well as teach how to make children understand failure .
- Visualize each mathematical symbol with simpler examples in everyday life. For example, equating a minus symbol with the word ‘lost’ or ‘going’ so that the number decreases and the plus symbol with ‘comes’ so that the number increases.
- Invite children to learn while playing so that they don’t feel that maths lessons are scary and difficult lessons. A fun way of learning will prevent children from avoiding learning mathematics.
- Using attractive colors for learning media for children with dyscalculia. For example, using different colored pencils to write different mathematical signs or symbols so that children are not confused in recognizing these symbols.
- Make the learning atmosphere fun and without coercion to make children feel positive experiences from learning mathematics and not feel bored.
Learning mathematics is often not an easy thing for some children. Parents also often immediately label children who are not good at mathematics as stupid children, even though there may be certain disorders that underlie the child’s difficulty in learning mathematics. By using learning media for children with dyscalculia, children can be helped to learn mathematics in an easy and fun way, which will not make them feel traumatized by mathematics and do not think of themselves as being stupid by others. Because, in fact, there are no children who cannot learn something. All children must have the ability to develop, only this must be realized through appropriate and gradual approaches and methods.