If math is a struggle, you might worry your child has dyscalculia. It can be stressful to wonder what that might mean for your child. But there are things to know about dyscalculia that can make the thought of it less scary or upsetting.
First, it’s important for you and your child to know that having dyscalculia doesn’t mean your child isn’t smart. Second, there are many ways you and your child’s school can help. And third, math skills can improve with work and the right type of support.
If you’re concerned your child has dyscalculia, here are seven steps you can take.
1. Learn the signs of dyscalculia — and the myths.
It can be hard to know if what you’re seeing is a sign or not. See this list of signs at different ages to get a clearer idea. Keep in mind that there are a lot of myths about dyscalculia. For example, you might hear it called math dyslexia or number dyslexia, which can be confusing. The fact is dyscalculia isn’t the same as dyslexia. And it can impact kids in lots of ways throughout any given day.
2. Look for specific things your child has trouble with.
Not all kids with dyscalculia struggle with the same math skills. Kids develop math skills at different rates, too. Refer to the signs, and keep an eye out for your child’s trouble spots. Does your child get frustrated or anxious about math homework? Are there specific types of math problems that trip your child up? Look for patterns, and take notes on what you see.
3. Ask about what’s happening at school.
Connect with your child’s teacher. Share what you’re seeing at home, and ask if the teacher is seeing something similar in the classroom. Comparing this information can be helpful to both of you — and your child.
4. Connect with others about what’s going on.
Dyscalculia is very common. By talking about what’s happening with people you trust, you might find out that others have had similar experiences. You can also find tips and support in our secure Understood Community.
5. Let your child know it’s OK.
When kids have trouble in school, it can make them feel less confident. They might even feel like they’re not smart. Remind your child that struggling with math is common. It doesn’t mean kids aren’t intelligent, or that they won’t get better at math. And talk about how everyone struggles with something — and has strengths, too.
6. Know where to go for answers.
Your child’s teacher and health care provider are great places to start. They can suggest steps for finding out if your child has dyscalculia — like a free evaluation at school.
7. Learn ways to help your child with math.
Even before you know whether your child has dyscalculia, there are ways you can help. Learn about the “new math” strategies your child is learning in school. And if your child feels anxious about math, find out what to do next.
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About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.