Modern playgrounds and outdoor play areas should offer more than opportunities for children to let off energy and steam. They should also stimulate and engage with children of all ages and abilities! Many invisible disabilities, like dyscalculia, can be overlooked through playground designs. Sometimes play areas can exclude children who struggle to understand numbers.
Therefore, which playground toys and staples are ideal for children with dyscalculia? How does it affect children, and how can we help to encourage young people with the condition to play and explore?
What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a learning disability which is referred to as an ‘invisible’ disability in the wider scheme. Children with dyscalculia will struggle to learn how numbers and calculations work.
This means that young people with the condition may find it frustrating to take part in maths lessons. Play specific games on the playground might also be challenging.
There are a number of ways in which schools can support children with dyscalculia. Not only are there recommended teaching practices, but there are also playground toys that help to support their understanding.
How Can it Affect Children?
Children can be affected by dyscalculia in many different ways. As dyslexia affects people’s understanding of words, dyscalculia affects people’s understanding of numbers. who may have difficulty processing numbers and figures, as well as simple sums.
- Children with dyscalculia may struggle to easily count a number of objects in a group up to ten at a time.
- These pupils may also struggle to understand basic maths symbols, and how addition and multiplication work.
- Children with dyscalculia may also find it hard to recall numbers, keeping score, or telling what time it is.
- Dyscalculia can be very frustrating and scary for young children. In a school environment, children face numbers and sums on a daily basis. Many with the condition try to avoid mathematics and numbers altogether. Others may get upset or lash out.
Therefore, it is important for us to identify the needs of children with dyscalculia. Even more important, of course, is ensuring that children have respite from intensive mathematics. This can be provided through gentle, explorative play.
Playground Activities to Help Dyscalculia
There are many brilliant ways to help support children with dyscalculia on the playground. Playground activities to help dyscalculia will ensure that children gain confidence in their abilities to handle numbers. It will also offer them a gentle route towards exploring maths outside of classroom environments.
Here are a few fantastic examples of fun and games children with dyscalculia might enjoy. You can incorporate these into an inclusive playground setting.
Practical Maths Games
Practical maths games take advantage of a child’s innate ability to ‘learn through doing’. A practical maths game will revolve around children working together to solve problems. They can use balls, tubes, counters and buckets, kids can collaborate on exciting, physical maths projects.
Children with dyscalculia may find practical maths games to be an exciting new way to approach numbers. Practical maths can help to instil knowledge of quantity and counting. Many children with dyscalculia struggle with maths in a classroom setting as they are handling figures on a page. In a practical environment, numbers may seem more appealing, and so might maths in general.
Role Play Activities
Role play activities are where children of all ages shine. From a young age, we all have incredible imaginations. Therefore, through role playing games, children get to explore their creative side, and get the chance to think a little more ‘outside of the box’. There are plenty of role play systems and toys available. These can all help children to explore mathematics, too.
For example, in pretend kitchens and workshops, children may pretend to collect a specific number of items. They could also mix together a specific amount of mud to make pretend cakes and pies. Working together through role play, they might also learn to share the load when it comes to measuring and counting. These activities can be very beneficial to all children. In particular, those who lack confidence with numbers in the classroom.
Children largely learn by seeing, as well as doing. Many children with dyscalculia may find visual mathematics very exciting! Instead of having to handle a bunch of boring numbers on a page, they can explore the relationships between numbers. This includes how they work together through new ones, through exciting, visual games.
Perhaps the most popular visual maths game is, of course, hopscotch. It is a playground classic which is painted on the floor of a play area. It has clear numbers that are bright and easy for young children to see. You can also set up bigger number grids with shapes like various creatures and characters, too. There are plenty of ways to incorporate maths games on the playground.
Outdoor Chalk Boards
Outdoor chalk boards might not sound like too much fun. But think about the possibilities children might have with a chalk board during role play. It’s a great tool for working out simple sums! For example, children playing shops can make note of the prices of food items before asking for payment!
An outdoor chalkboard is another fantastic visual mathematics tool. These can help children with dyscalculia approach numbers and basic sums in a different, more appealing way.
Supporting Children on the Playground
In the modern age, we should be supporting all children on the playground. Exploring and learning doesn’t start and end with the classroom, and this should never be the case! Children with dyscalculia should feel confident and safe to explore numbers and basic maths. They should be able to do this in environments they find appealing and exciting.
Children with dyscalculia must receive support from teachers and playground supervisors. Childhood is a crucial time for developing social confidence, and for developing basic everyday skills. This includes calculating sums and understanding the concepts of quantity. Without these skills, children may grow up struggling to adapt with some of the more stressful aspects of adult life.
Therefore, we must start supporting children on the playground. We can do this with inclusive, inspiring and exciting toys and games!
Feel free to contact our team for more details on outdoor play ideas for children with Dyscalculia.