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Teaching Math to Dyslexic Learners

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Having a child with a dyslexic child can be a challenge. It’s important to make sure you use various techniques to help them learn. Here are some that will help teach Math to Dyslexic learners.

Teaching Math to Dyslexic students

Teaching Math to Dyslexic Learners

The term dyslexia often refers to a cognitive condition that creates severe phonetical and spelling difficulties or an inability to read. However, though the actual linguistics of the term refers to a language, dyslexia is commonly used to describe difficulties in other areas of study as well. For students of all ages, reading, writing, and arithmetic have been labeled as the most important and foundational skills in education. As a subject, math requires spatial reasoning, logical analysis, and conceptual processing. These are three areas that right-brained thinkers struggle to master. In spite of right-brained thinkers demonstrating (on average) an above-average intelligence when compared to peers, one of the key hallmarks of a dyslexic individual is the inability to grasp certain subjects. For this reason, it takes a more creative approach when dealing with instruction and learning in math.

The Math Concepts

Kids with dyslexia (who grow up to be adults with dyslexia) often use their visual brains to guide their learning style. Coping strategies evolve with time for their areas of weakness, so it is crucial to make sure foundational concepts are well-grounded. The concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals require a bit of maturity to fully understand. Though these areas are often introduced in kindergarten, it can be difficult for a right-brained thinker to fully reason out meaning and consequence. It becomes necessary to give dyslexic students manipulatives and visuals that can help explain the “why” behind these concepts.

As the student is able to incorporate different senses into the learning experience, the brain more fully grounds the concepts and masters the element. Allow the child to build problems using manipulatives, speak or explain the problem orally, then write the problem or answer. The three modes of learning, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, reinforce the clarity of the concept. With testing and assessment programs like those used in i-Ready math, this conceptual framework is important. The success of the student isn’t in the i-Ready answers, but the conceptual and logical processing that the student used to get to the answer.

The Math Facts

As a student moves through the math curriculum, conceptual learning continues though the focus is placed on the memorization of math facts. Students are required to memorize fact families that cover addition and subtraction, as well as multiplication and division. These elements are extremely difficult for the dyslexic learner since the brain has challenges with low working memory. This is often seen in short-term memory retrieval efforts. Something that is taught and grasped one day may seem completely foreign when reviewing on subsequent days. Rote memorization is a weakness for the dyslexic learner.

In order to move past this hang up, which must be done if the student is going to progress, you must tap into the visual strengths of the student. It is definitely more time-consuming to use manipulatives to lay out addition and subtraction facts, but there is no way around this process. Visual strategies are the most effective for long-term retention in the dyslexic brain. The Internet is full of assistance in this area, with pictures, stories, and songs that offer visualization of math facts. One of the most widely recommended for dyslexics and challenged learners is Preschool Prep, with repetition and visualization helping drive the information home.

The Math Movement

Even with the ability to use smartphones, digital devices, and software programs, an individual can’t be fully successful with a strong grasp on foundation math skills and problem-solving. Though a dyslexic mind poses some challenges with learning and retaining this information, it isn’t incapable of learning mathematical concepts. Being creative with the approach to learning and memory and addressing the learning strengths of the individual will be the game-changers.

 

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