The study of mathematics can pose challenges for many students, but for children with dyslexia, mathematics can be a struggle that requires adaptations and interventions … So mathematics for children with dyslexia can be even more challenging .
Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that affects approximately 5 to 17% of children, causing difficulties with reading, writing, and spelling . Between 60 and 100% of children with dyslexia also have significant math difficulties. While trying to help your dyslexic child with math can be frustrating for everyone involved, modifications will increase your child’s understanding and therefore, even if they are complicated, they will not be impossible.
Here we are going to give you some tips so that if you have a son or daughter with dyslexia , math does not become a nightmare …
TARGETS SPECIFIC SKILLS
Historically, mathematics and language arts have been viewed differently . General reading and writing skills are divided into a series of more specific skills. When a child has a problem with a specific skill, that particular area can be addressed and assistance can be given to aid understanding.
Mathematics also requires a number of different thinking skills and methods, but is generally considered more generally. Your child may be considered “poor” in math, when in reality he may be struggling with only one specific area that needs to be identified and addressed.
ALTERNATIVE LEARNING STYLES
Providing visual aids along with verbal instruction, repeating directions, and presenting material in small sequential steps can be helpful for the dyslexic learner. When helping your child at home, you can include math tools, such as number lines and hundreds tables, that your child’s teacher may provide you to review content that they work on at school from home .
It may also be worth buying items that can be manipulated, such as counters, pattern blocks, and cubes, like the ones your child uses at school. Older children who use lengthy methods of multiplication and division may find that turning the paper on its side to form columns, or using graph paper, can be helpful. These modifications provide visual and organizational support by placing numbers in columns.
THE LANGUAGE OF MATHEMATICS
The language used in the study of mathematics can be complex for the dyslexic student. Word problems not only use one language that needs to be decoded, but also multiple steps that need to be calculated, all of which present a challenge. The math vocabulary is also confusing, because different terms mean the same thing in some processes, such as addition and subtraction.
Symbols also represent mathematical language . Create a table at home that lists the math symbols with their definitions to provide a visual aid after the symbols are introduced to your child at school .
The math is cumulative. To achieve a solid foundation, each level of math skills must be mastered before moving on to the next. For the dyslexic student, the material must be mastered and even surpassed before moving on to the next skill or concept. It is vital that you have frequent communication with your child’s teacher to be aware of expectations, the pace of math lessons, and your child’s level of mastery of important skills.
It is also important that your child’s teacher is informed of the methods you are using to help your child at home. Together you can identify techniques that best suit your child’s learning style, which will decrease anxiety, increase confidence, and help build a firm mathematical foundation.