Understanding Dyscalculia: Math Challenges, Support, and the Role of Tutoring

Students with dyscalculia

Mathematics is a fundamental school subject, but math can be an ongoing battle for many students, and even more so if that student struggles with dyscalculia. 

Dyscalculia, often called “math dyslexia,” is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers, mathematical concepts, and the logic behind calculations. 

What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability primarily affecting a person’s mathematical abilities. Just as dyslexia impacts one’s reading ability, dyscalculia hinders one’s aptitude for working with numbers and mathematical concepts. 

People with dyscalculia may struggle with basic arithmetic, understanding mathematical symbols, and comprehending the logic behind mathematical operations.

Symptoms of Dyscalculia

The symptoms of dyscalculia can vary from person to person. Still, there are some common signs that you can look out for, including:

  • Struggling with simple math calculations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Having trouble comparing the relative size of numbers which can affect tasks like estimating or rounding.
  • There are challenges with telling time, reading analog clocks, and grasping concepts like elapsed time.
  • Trouble understanding mathematical concepts related to geometry, measurement, and spatial reasoning can be problematic.
  • Difficulty with problem-solving and the ability to apply mathematical concepts to solve real-world problems.

Impact of Dyscalculia on Students

When dyscalculia goes undiagnosed or unaddressed, it can have a significant impact on a child’s life, particularly during their school years. 

The challenges associated with this condition can lead to:

  1. Low self-esteem due to repeated struggles in math class can erode a student’s self-confidence, making them believe they cannot understand or succeed in mathematics.
  2. Frustration and anxiety with the inability to grasp mathematical concepts can lead to heightened stress and anxiety during math-related activities or assessments.
  3. Academic underachievement because dyscalculia can impede overall academic performance, as math is a subject intertwined with various other fields of study.

Support for Students with Dyscalculia

Students with dyscalculia

Early Diagnosis* 

Identifying dyscalculia at an early age is crucial. Teachers, parents, and professional specialists can work together to recognize the signs and provide appropriate interventions.

Specialized Instruction

Students with dyscalculia may benefit from specialized instruction that focuses on building foundational mathematical skills and addressing their specific challenges. Tutors can provide this tailored instruction, ensuring that it meets the individual needs of the student.


Tutoring is a highly effective method for helping individuals with dyscalculia. A qualified math tutor can work one-on-one with the student, providing additional guidance and support in a comfortable and focused environment.

Assistive Technology

Various tools and software programs are designed to assist individuals with dyscalculia in performing mathematical tasks more effectively. Tutors can integrate these tools into their teaching methods.

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): 

Schools can create IEPs to outline the specific needs of students with dyscalculia and provide tailored support. Tutors can collaborate with school professionals to ensure the IEP is implemented effectively.

Positive Reinforcement 

Encouraging students and providing positive feedback can help boost their self-esteem and motivation. Tutors can play a significant role in building students’ self-confidence.

Oxford Learning is Here To Help Students with Dyscalculia

With tutoring assistance, students with dyscalculia can build their mathematical skills and gain confidence in their mathematical abilities, ultimately reducing math-related frustration and anxiety. 

Tutoring, in particular, offers a personalized and effective solution to address the unique needs of individuals with dyscalculia, helping them unlock their full mathematical potential.

Learn more at an Oxford Learning Centre near you.

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*Please note that only a licensed professional is able to provide your child with a diagnosis. Oxford Learning is not able to diagnose; only provide insights into learning strengths and weaknesses.

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