Dyscalculia Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

People with dyscalculia have difficulty understanding numbers and learning math skills. Dyscalculia encompasses a wide range of learning disabilities related to math.

Students with dyscalculia may:

  • have difficulty learning to count or have a poor memory for numbers
  • have trouble writing numbers, finding correct place values, and lining up equations
  • have trouble remembering math facts
  • be unable to follow a sequence of steps
  • have difficulty understanding numbers, math symbols, and word problems
  • find it hard to visualize patterns
  • have difficulty measuring things
  • have an exceptionally slow and difficult time solving math problems
  • avoid games that require strategies involving math
  • become extremely frustrated or anxious with schoolwork related to math

What Teachers Can Do

If you suspect a student has dyscalculia, recommend seeking an educational evaluation to a parent or guardian, an administrator, or a school counselor.

Teachers can help students struggling with dyscalculia to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Helping students understand their learning styles and using alternative approaches can enable them to achieve confidence and success in math.

Additional math support in school and tutors outside the classroom can help students with dyscalculia focus on specific learning difficulties. Reinforcing math facts and practicing new skills can help make understanding math concepts easier.

Other strategies for inside and outside the classroom include:

  • giving extra time to work on math-related assignments
  • using graph paper for students who have difficulty organizing problems on paper
  • planning and organizing students’ approach to math problems
  • using estimating as a way to approach solving math problems
  • using objects and visuals to help solve problems
  • starting with concrete examples before moving to harder, more abstract concepts
  • explaining math concepts and terms clearly and encouraging students to ask questions
  • providing a quiet place to work with few distractions

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: December 2013