Math learning differences are often overlooked and children with math learning disabilities frequently don’t receive the assessment or remediation they need. About 6 percent of school-aged children have serious math difficulties.
Like reading difficulties, disabilities relating to learning math range from mild or moderate to severe. In addition to different intensities, there are also different types which require different kinds of emphasis in the classroom, adaptations and methods.
Basic Math Facts
Some children have a problem memorizing their basic math facts even though they put a great deal of effort into learning them. These children continue to use their fingers or pencil marks to count because they do not readily know basic addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. For some children, this is their only difficulty and allowing them to use a calculator or facts chart will allow them to proceed to more difficult computations.
Arithmetic Weakness/Math Talent
Some children have no problem understanding math concepts but do have a problem reliably calculating in math. They tend to make mistakes when it comes to paying attention to operational signs, sequencing steps and borrowing or carrying correctly. While these difficulties might place them in remedial math classes early on, they shouldn’t be held back from higher-level math because of their inconsistent computational skills.
Informal Math Skills versus Formal Procedures
Many young children beginning elementary school actually have a strong understanding of informal math but they have trouble connecting this knowledge to the more formal procedures used in school. Learning the language, symbolic notation and system of school math collides with their informal skills. At this stage, using structured, concrete materials students can move and hold can be a much better teaching tool than pictorial representations.