Is your child failing in maths whilst doing well in other subjects? It could be that your child has a specific learning disability.

A specific learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. The disability may be exhibited as an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.

Despite their difficulty in certain skill areas, specific learning disabled students are usually of average or higher intelligence.

When it comes to children who are struggling in maths you might have heard people using the term ‘dyscalculia’.

Dyscalculia is a learning disability in math and is a broad term for severe difficulties. It includes all types of math problems ranging from the inability to understand the meaning of numbers to the inability to apply math principles to solve problems.

If you suspect your child has dyscalculia, you can make a referral for assessment to determine a diagnosis. This will require an evaluation to identify the specific types of errors each individual child makes.

It is possible for children with dyscalculia to overcome their difficulties through concept imagery and working on understanding the reasoning behind mathematical concepts.

People with learning disabilities such as dyscalculia are at risk of being seen as less capable than they are.

However, they have a general ability to learn that is comparable to or higher than many of their peers. They simply have specific skill weaknesses in some areas.

In many ways, students with learning disabilities have creative problem-solving skills and can achieve well with appropriate specially designed instruction.

The Inspire learning centre offers literacy and numeracy enhancement services.

Inspire’s goal is to help children and young adults cope and overcome their difficulties with particular emphasis on literacy and numeracy difficulties. The programme addresses these difficulties through an interactive and multisensory approach.

The numeracy sessions cater for those who have difficulty accessing mathematical and numeracy related concepts and are struggling with maths even because of language.

The main tool used to address numeracy is the Numicon, a multisensory tool used to address number skills and mathematical concepts. It does not replace the curriculum as addressed in schools, but rather supports it.

Due to its highly visual nature, Numicon helps students understand numbers, number values and the relationship between numbers.

Additional activities carried out during both literacy and numeracy sessions include visual and auditory memory skills as well as working memory skills.

In addition to that, attention skills and visual spatial processing are being addressed. Inspire’s qualified tutors will provide intervention as required by the child within the home, school or at the Inspire Learning Centre in Bulebel.

Frequency and length of intervention will be decided following professionals’ recommendations and upon discussion with parents. Sessions usually take place on weekly basis and may last one hour or one hour and 30 minutes depending on the kind of intervention needed.

Moreover, sessions are on a one-to-one basis so as to ensure that activities carried out during the sessions are adapted according to the needs of the child.

The Inspire tutors also offer school visits on request to discuss the goals of the services offered and the child’s progress with the stakeholders concerned to streamline all efforts towards successful learning for the child.

The programme has already met with substantial success on a local level. If you think your child could benefit from their services contact the programme team leader Sarah Mifsud by sending an e-mail to: or by calling Inspire on 2092 8100.

Jonas Schrader is manager of the Inspire Learning Centre.

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