Learning disorders are quite common in the general student population, with estimates that 1 in 10 people have been or will be diagnosed with a learning disorder. Each learning disorder is different and affects learners in unique and specific ways.

Today, we will take a brief look at dyscalculia, a math-related learning disorder.

What is dyscalculia and how does it manifest?

Dyscalculia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulties with math reasoning and calculations. It is not uncommon for students diagnosed with dyscalculia to also receive of diagnosis of one or more other learning disorders, but typically, students with this learning disorder have average abilities in speaking, reading, and writing.

Typically, dyscalculia manifests as difficulty counting, difficulties with basic arithmetic, and deficits in working memory, which is required to store important information to complete a math problem or calculations. Students with dyscalculia may also struggle to read longer number combinations (more than three digits) and will have a difficult time keeping track of a task or activity that involves math concepts (i.e.: time, calculating distance, size, and keeping score in sports or board games).

It is not unusual for students with dyscalculia to suffer from math-related anxiety. Math is inherently difficult for them, and as a result, they feel inadequately prepared to tackle their schoolwork. Exams and evaluations in math can lead to high stress, which further compounds the ability to successfully work through the required tasks.

Tutoring strategies for helping a student with dyscalculia

Tutoring is a great option for students with dyscalculia. The tutoring must be tailored to their specific struggles, and should be approached differently than in the classroom, especially since the traditional classroom teaching style is not adapted to address the complex ways in which dyscalculia affects learning.

For students with dyscalculia, math concepts should be simplified. While use of a calculator is not always recommended for the average student, its use should be practiced if dyscalculia is present as a calculator is essential to accommodate for the difficulties with working memory.

Most importantly, math tutoring should work on slowing down the teaching of the material. Students with dyscalculia often become disoriented and overwhelmed when working on math, and time constraints as well as outside pressures exacerbate these reactions. A tutoring style that is flexible and adapted is a best fit to help students with dyscalculia reach success.

For more information on this learning disorder, visit: dyscalculia.org