Problems with Math

When you think your child has problems with math and the teacher disagrees, here's what to do.
My nine-year-old daughter has many problems with math, including adding and subtracting. Her teacher doesn't see a problem with this. What should I do?
You have the legal right to request a free evaluation by your local school district to determine if your child has a learning disability that is preventing her from grasping basic math concepts. Contact your school guidance counselor to find out how to go about requesting this evaluation. In the meantime, there are several instructional materials that may help.

Children can have difficulty learning math facts for many different reasons. For some, they need to use math manipulatives to understand the concepts underlying math computation. For others, they understand the concepts but just don't have the automatic retrieval skills necessary for true math fluency.

Several programs address the common problems children experience in learning basic math. I like the Structural Arithmetic series from Educators Publishing Service (1-800-225-5750 or It stresses the use of math manipulatives to anchor basic math concepts. I also like the Strategic Math series by Susan Peterson Miller and Cecil D. Mercer, published by Edge Enterprises (PO Box 1304, Lawrence, Kansas 66044). Both series include games to reinforce math concepts and increase speed of retrieval of facts. Great Leaps has just published a new program for increasing speed and fluency in math facts that you might find useful. You can reach Great Leaps at 1-877-GRLEAPS or

For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

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