Dyscalculia tutoring: What families need to know

Learn what skills and qualifications to look for in a tutor for kids with dyscalculia.

Kids with dyscalculia may get supports and services in school to help them with math challenges. But they may also benefit from tutoring outside of school.

Here’s what you need to know about tutoring for kids with dyscalculia.

What to look for in a dyscalculia tutor

Tutors who help kids with are often trained in specific reading programs. They can also get certification in those programs. The same doesn’t exist for tutors who help kids with dyscalculia.

There are few evidence-based programs designed specifically to help students with dyscalculia. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good tutor for your child. Or that there aren’t teaching methods that benefit kids who struggle with math.

Research on dyscalculia suggests that using a multisensory structured approach can help kids who struggle with number sense and operations. Several math programs are designed around a multisensory approach, like Stern Structural Arithmetic and TouchMath.

You can try to find a tutor who has experience with one of these programs. But what’s most important is that the tutor uses elements of those math programs.

What a tutor might do

Most one-on-one tutoring programs recommend 60-minute sessions, two or three times per week. (For small group instruction, they recommend 45 minutes per day. That includes what kids are getting in school.)

Intensive instruction is the best way for kids to learn basic math concepts. The tutor’s approach should be:

  • Structured. The tutor should break math down into smaller skills and build on them over time.

  • Multisensory. The tutor should use sight, hearing, touch, and movement to help kids understand math and math concepts. For example, the tutor may have your child count out fuzzy cotton balls.

  • Focused on verbal reasoning. The tutor should have students “talk through” math problems and concepts. Using written and spoken words can help kids understand the basic logic behind math.

An online tutor should use the same approaches. For example, the tutor can use virtual manipulatives. These can be used to explain concepts and to talk through how to solve a problem.

The tutor should give you regular progress updates. You can share them with the school. Learn how to help your child’s tutor and teachers communicate.

Who can provide tutoring

Not many people call themselves a “dyscalculia tutor.” So what type of professional can help your child with dyscalculia? The best options include:

Special education teachers

This might be a teacher looking for extra income. It could be a retired teacher. You might even consider a graduate student working toward an advanced degree in special education.

Educational therapists

These instructors work with kids who have learning and thinking differences. But they may not have a specialty in working with kids who have dyscalculia, or much experience with it at all. There are also no regulations about who gets to use this title. So be careful not to rely on titles alone when choosing a tutor.

Reading specialists and dyslexia tutors

Some reading specialists or tutors who teach students with dyslexia may also help kids with dyscalculia. This is because many use a multisensory structured approach that can be applied to math. A tutor who uses the approach, or a reading program based on it, might be a possible candidate.


Some psychologists who evaluate kids for learning and thinking differences may be trained to teach math concepts with a multisensory structured approach.

A regular math tutor

Someone who has experience working with kids who have dyscalculia might be a great candidate.

Where to find a tutor

Your child’s school is the best place to start. The special education teacher, math teacher, or caseworker may have a list of qualified tutors. Getting referrals from other parents who have kids with dyscalculia is another good option.

Two groups keep lists of certified educational therapists. They are the Association of Educational Therapists and the National Institute for Learning Development.

Most commercial tutoring centers won’t have the specialized instruction your child needs. One exception is the Lindamood–Bell Program. It’s best known for its reading program. But it also offers math tutoring that may be helpful for kids with dyscalculia. Lindamood–Bell has many centers throughout the United States.

No matter where you find the tutor, it’s important to know the tutor who will work directly with your child. Be sure to ask about the tutor’s qualifications.

How much tutoring costs

Parents usually have to pay out of pocket for private tutoring. Rates can range from $40 to $125 an hour. It can be much higher in large cities.

In some cases, a school district might pay for a tutor to provide compensatory instruction to a child as part of their IEP.

Private tutoring can require a major commitment of time and money. But tutoring can help your child develop a better understanding of math and math concepts.

Learn about places that offer free or low-cost tutoring.


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