Learning Disabilities and Difficulties in Math

Could my child's struggles in math be linked to some kind of learning disability? She gets straight A's in every other subject, but when it comes to working with numbers she really has problems keeping her head above water. We're having a hard time understanding why this is the case.

As a matter of fact, there may be a highly specialized reason for your child’s problems in school. Since she gets straight A’s in every other subject and struggles only in math, it’s possible that she is suffering from a learning disability known a dyscalculia. This is also referred to as Mathematics Disorder, and it can involve difficulty understanding mathematical terms or concepts, decoding written word problems, recognizing numerical symbols or arithmetic signs or following sequences of mathematical steps.

If your child is seriously lagging behind in math, ask the teacher to arrange for a formal evaluation by the school psychologist. If it turns out that the issue isn’t a learning disability but simply a matter of needing additional help, we strongly suggest that you find a math tutor or enroll your daughter in a specialized math learning program in your community. A situation of this nature can put a great deal of stress on family life at home, and for this reason it can be a blessing to get some outside help rather than trying to tutor your child yourself.

Meanwhile, bear in mind that math isn’t everything and that every child can’t be expected to excel in this particular area of academics. It’s extremely important to affirm your child’s strengths rather than focusing on her weaknesses. Find ways to shine a spotlight on the things she’s good at. Encourage her to get more deeply involved in the subject fields she really enjoys. Where math is concerned, help her to see her assignments as positive challenges rather than frustrating obstacles. Go out of your way to cooperate closely with her math teacher. Praise your child for her effort rather than simply her achievement, and resist the temptation to criticize or express disappointment when she fails. Remind her that her self-worth is not based on grades or accomplishments, but on the fact that she is made in God’s image and that He loves her dearly.

If you have additional questions or would simply like to discuss these issues at greater length with a member of our staff, feel free to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department. Our counselors would be more than happy to serve you in any way they can. They can also provide you with referrals to qualified child and family therapists in your area who specialize in dealing with learning disabilities.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School

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Discovering Your Child’s Learning Style 

John Rosemond: Parenting with Love and Leadership

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