Understanding why kids struggle with math

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

If you see a child struggling with math, you might wonder why, and whether it’s something to be concerned about. Why is math so hard for some kids?

It’s not uncommon for kids to have trouble with math. Math difficulties can show up at different ages and in lots of ways. And it’s a myth that girls struggle more with math than boys do.

Some challenges are clearer, like trouble adding, subtracting, multiplying, or doing long division. Others are less noticeable and may not even seem directly related to math. For example, some kids have trouble telling time or left from right.

When kids struggle with math, it doesn’t mean they’re not smart or not trying hard enough. In fact, kids who have trouble with math are often trying their best.

Some kids just need more time and practice to learn math skills, or better instruction. Others need additional support to get there. The type of support kids need often depends on what’s causing the challenge.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Daniel Ansari, PhD is a professor in developmental cognitive neuroscience at Western University, Canada.