What is Dyscalculia?

dyscalculia help

Dyscalculia, sometimes called maths dyslexia, affects 1 in 20 children in the UK.

Simply put, dyscalculia describes the difficulty some people have with mental mathematics and number recognition. Someone with dyscalculia may:

  • Misidentify a number – e.g. 6 as 9
  • Struggle to add, multiply, subtract or divide numbers
  • Have trouble understanding the relationship between numbers and connecting numbers to objects
  • Have difficulty telling the time


“The underlying problem leading to dyscalculia is a core deficit in processing and labelling quantities of objects, which affects the ability to compare numbers.”

Chris Woodin


Why don’t we hear about dyscalculia?

With an education system that struggles to supply resources, under pressure of increasing cuts and slashed budgets, there’s sadly no space to introduce the appropriate and necessary help. Our system needs to change to accommodate all students.

We are starting to see a shift in awareness. In 2019, for the first time, three dyscalculia conferences are being held by key education organisations, including the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). In the future the term dyscalculia should be as familiar to our ears as dyslexia.


What teaching methods work for a child with dyscalculia?

There are pioneering experts developing new and ground-breaking methods of teaching mathematics and number recognition to a new generation.

One of these is Chris Woodin, Maths specialist at the prestigious Landmark School in the United States and leading specialist in the field of dyscalculia. He believes in Whole-to-Part teaching over the traditional Part-to-Whole. His technique involves tracing and identification of numbers so learning is kinaesthetic and multisensory.  This is effective for developing number sense.


Does Nessy offer anything to help with dyscalculia?

We are thrilled that Chris has agreed to join our team and collaborate on a brand-new program, Nessy Number Bubbles. We hope that it will help shape the way children are taught mathematics for years to come.

Nessy Number Bubbles uses techniques that are different to traditional maths teaching methods. It will begin with teaching the identification of numbers 1-10 and understanding the relationships between them through Whole-to-Part teaching.

In the game children will be asked to trace the number, then identify the correct number of bubbles to pop. They will be taught understanding between shapes and numbers by tracing and finding shapes within (e.g 4 is a square, 3 a triangle) and finally draw over the bubbles in the shape of the number. This Whole-to-Part teaching method means students learn via kinaesthetic, visual and spatial methods. This gives them a variety of access points to content; leading to a better overall understanding of mathematics.

“The kinaesthetic act of tracing shapes within dot patterns as they are being named, helps to enhance the visual perception of quantities.”

Chris Woodin


Nessy Number Bubbles is coming soon and will be available on the App Store, with numbers 1-3 totally free!


“Quality Whole-to-Part methodology can level the playing field for children with a core deficit in the ability to enumerate quantities from Part-to-Whole, enabling these young children to develop numeracy with their peers”

Chris Woodin