Mixing Up Numbers

Child Symptoms & Solution



Does your child find numbers problematic and confusing? Do their difficulties seem to persist rather than go away?

Take a look at the symptom checker below and try some of the Mixing Up Numbers resources. You don’t have anything to lose apart from your child’s confidence in maths, which isn’t a great thing to see disappearing down the plug hole! Your child may have something called Dyscalculia or Number Dyslexia which we have lots of information about on this website. However your child may only need a few handy hints so they don’t continue mixing up numbers. Either way the early you sort out the problem the more confident your child will be.

Typical symptoms across all ages :

  • Difficulty counting backwards.

  • Difficulty remembering 'basic' facts.

  • Slow to perform calculations.

  • Weak mental arithmetic skills.

  • A poor sense of numbers & estimation.

  • Difficulty in understanding place value.

  • Addition is often the default operation.

  • High levels of mathematics anxiety.


  • PROBLEM : Adding up to 10 (Number Bonds) is a major struggle. “Mum what’s 7 + ? = 10 is it 8?”

Solution - look at sites like www.tablefables.net that use images rather than numbers to inspire children to count to 10 and learn their number bonds. Table Fables also helps children remember how to write the numbers the correct way around so they no longer continue mixing up numbers 3 and 5 or 2 and 7. Children find remembering characters easy so all confusion disappears in a couple of sessions.

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PROBLEM : Uses fingers to count instead of using mental maths.

  • Solution : Fingers will probably be used throughout a child’s school career and that’s ok. We’ve got fingers so let’s use them!

However working on mental arithmetic is very important and children who begin school life mixing up numbers often have real problems with mental arithmetic. The sooner you sort this out the easy school life will be. Remember before children can do mental arithmetic they MUST know the two numbers that add up to 10. Look at sites like Table Fables for help.

Game : Hide money around the house and set up a shop. Your child has to find the money and come and buy items at the shop. Children can be either be the shopper and shop keeper who has to give change. This really fun and brilliant for helping those are always mixing up numbers.


Suggestions : Make sure you play this game 1 on 1 without other children. Those children who are always mixing up numbers or have Dyscalculia are often embarrassed or intimidated about getting things wrong in front of other children.


PROBLEM: Poor understanding of signs + - ÷ x . Mixing up numbers isn’t always the only problem, then can also confuse symbols. Below are a few solutions.

Solution :  All children love stories and images to help them remember things but especially Dyscalculia ones.


Tell Children X sign (multiplication & times) is the kiss sign at the bottom of a letter. Then tell them a story : “If two people kiss they fall in love and will produce lots of babies. If you X (kiss) then you get lots more babies than you started with.


Addition + (add, plus, sum etc). Tell children the + sign is like the symbol on a pharmacy or chemist. Story “If you add sum (+) medicine to a sick person they get better.”

SUMMERY : Eg X makes lots more of things. + adds two things together.

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