Once you’ve learnt and understood place value and you use it frequently without thinking, it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is struggling to understand it.
Here are 5 reasons place value is difficult:
The number symbols 0-9 are used repeatedly in different columns to mean different quantities.
Two number symbols are used together to created new words TEN, ELEVEN, TWELVE 10, 11, 12 – there is no pattern to follow to learn these.
13-19 are said backwards. 16 is SIX then TEEN – the tens column is written first and said last.
Confusion Between Numbers
Confusion with multiples of ten. 60 can sound very similar to 16. Especially in a noisy classroom or if a child has auditory deficits and / or concentration difficulties.
Beyond writing and saying the numerals there is the concept of exchange for example 10 x 1p coins can be exchanged for 1 x 10 pence piece.
Once mastered, place value is such a useful tool helping children get out of the habit of counting in 1’s. This is where numerous mistakes can be made due to the sheer amount of counting that has to be done in order to reach the answer.
It’s likely that children with Dyscalculia and some with Dyslexia will find place value particularly difficult. You can help children understand place value with short but frequent sessions of multi-sensory / hands-on practice with different concrete resources so they can play with the numbers and ideas to help them understand.
Here are some games that can help with place value:
Straight forward Place Value Games (the first game is FREE!)