Q&A: Struggling with one school subject


My daughter gets straight A’s in every subject except math, where she really struggles to keep her head above water. We’re having a hard time understanding why this is the case. Could her problems with math be linked to some kind of learning disability?

Answer: There are some learning disabilities that involve difficulty understanding mathematical terms or concepts, decoding written word problems, recognising numerical symbols or arithmetic signs, etc. If your child is seriously lagging behind in math, ask the teacher to arrange for a formal evaluation to at least identify if this is a possibility.

If it turns out that the issue isn’t a learning disability, but simply a matter of needing additional help, find a tutor or tuition class specialized in math. A situation like this can put a great deal of stress on everyone at home, so it can be a good buffer to get some outside help rather than trying to tutor your child yourself.

Meanwhile, bear in mind that math isn’t everything and that every child can’t be expected to excel in this particular academic area. It’s extremely important to affirm your child’s strengths rather than focusing on her weaknesses. Find ways to shine a spotlight on the things she’s good at. Encourage her to get more deeply involved in the subject fields she really enjoys.

Where math is concerned, help her to see assignments as positive challenges rather than frustrating obstacles. Go out of your way to cooperate closely with her math teacher. Praise your child for her effort rather than simply her achievement, and don’t criticise or express disappointment when she fails. Remind her that her self-worth is not based on grades or accomplishments.  Above all, affirm your unconditional love for her.

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