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Have you noticed a learner in your life is having issues with math, struggles to follow the exact measurements in a recipe, or ends up being late to everything?

On the outside, it may look like they're "not smart enough", "lazy", or "angry for no reason", but it may be deeper than that. They may be experiencing challenges with a developmental learning disability called dyscalculia, also known as "dyslexia for numbers".

Creating an equitable, safe classroom that embraces all learners isn't easy, but you do not need to be perfect or know everything to get started.

What is dyscalculia?

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Developmental dyscalculia (DD), or dyscalculia, is a specific learning disorder where a person has mathematical skills below the expected skills for their age group.

The learner may have challenges with:

  • retrieving math facts, such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing

  • math calculations and reasoning

  • reading, understanding, and interpreting numbers

Dyscalculia is known as an "invisible disability". This means that it's a disability that can't be seen on the outside by just looking at someone, which may cause misunderstandings, judgment, and false perceptions of a person.

How does dyscalculia impact a learner's life?

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A person with dyscalculia may have challenges at home with:

  • measuring quantities for baking or cooking recipes

  • using money, such as bills or coins

  • time management calculations to get ready on time

  • remembering and calling phone numbers for appointments or support

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A student with dyscalculia may have in-class difficulties, like:

  • measuring precise or accurate quantities for assignments, such as experiments

  • interpreting data, like graphs and charts

  • estimating the time it takes to complete an assignment, quiz, or exam

  • understanding test results and calculating their grade in the class

How do I support learners with dyscalculia?

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Learners with dyscalculia are not any less intelligent. They have different needs. Having access to the right classroom supports can set them to thrive and succeed in a more equitable classroom.

Be supportive during activities and do the following:

  • Use more visual or auditory materials

  • Provide graphing paper to line up numbers

  • Use problems that apply to daily life

  • Create uncluttered worksheets

  • Make time for supervised group practice

  • Allow the use of calculators

  • Extra time to complete tests

  • Hand out a formula sheet

  • Provide additional accommodations

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Be supportive by going over transferrable life skills like:


Paulita (she/her) is a new exchange student from Mexico and often needs more time to complete the daily math worksheet. As a teacher, what are some strategies you can use to support her in your 7th grade math class? Select all that apply:

How do I help students deal with the anxiety and stress of math?

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On the outside, it may look like a child who struggles with numbers is "too emotional" or just not trying hard enough. It's easy to say "just get over it," but that's usually not helpful and is not supportive.

Learners with dyscalculia often experience:

  • agitation and anger towards math assignments

  • stress and fear of going to school or asking for help

  • anxiety or panic at home or during class

  • bullying and low self-esteem for being different

Providing supportive resources on how to manage stress and anxiety during class time or at-home may be especially helpful for learners with dyscalculia.

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Think about a time you took a class and thought you were going to fail an important test, stopping you from finishing the class or even graduating. It stinks!

Try helping students manage math anxiety before a test or quiz by:

Take Action

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Put your new skills into practice and support someone with dyscalculia!


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