Is Dyslexia An Obstacle In Learning Math?

Written by Nithya Sriram

Bio

3 mins read

INTRODUCTION

Sania’s parents and teachers have the same observation of her academic accolades. While she does seem to have the potential, it does not translate into results. Her teachers have observed that Mathematics is her nemesis. This frustration is later transmitted to the other subjects as well. When diagnosed by professionals, it was found that Sania was Dyslexic. This worried Sania’s parents beyond comprehension.

Every teacher, educating the millennial, would have come across such a scenario and handling these kids are a challenge to many. In the case of Dyslexics, we happen to presume that they lack math or problem-solving skills. When we talk about learning a subject, we are talking about acquiring specific skills and applying them in real life or simulated scenarios and not scoring marks in a test.  

So, the question here is – Can Dyslexics acquire or master the ability to learn Math?

People who have specific math learning deficits are considered Dyscalculic. Paralleled, Dyslexic people also face certain hurdles in learning math. Basically, Math is imbibed by individuals in two ways – through Direct Transfers where numbers are taught to children and through Cognitive Problem Solving.

For students with particularly Specific Learning Needs, the direct transfer happens slowly but surely, over a period of time. However, they struggle with Cognitive Problem Solving. This is predominantly because complex problem solving requires conceptual knowledge through verbal pathways. It also involves recalling certain data and being familiar with specific and sophisticated vocabulary.

A dyslexic student may find it difficult to understand that ’12 minus 5’, taking away 5 from 12 and subtract 5 from 12 or what must be added to 5 to get 12 –  are the same and involve the same operation.

Concepts can be obtained through the following:

1. Data Presentation and concept identification

2. Testing the student’s achievement 

3. Analyzing thinking strategies

In the following picture, similar data has been represented in four different ways, and all of them are correct. This is called Discovery Learning (Jerome Bruner- Thinking Skills) in which the affected students work on their own, to discover certain concepts or principles. Here the students overcome the disadvantage of language or organized data processing skills and the concept of addition is successfully applied to improve the students’ problem-solving abilities.  

Problem solving has 5 stages:

I – Identify problems and opportunities

D – Define goals and represent problems

E – Explore possible strategies

A – Anticipate outcomes and act

L – Look back and learn.

Classroom Observation

The following traits observed in students during class hours would tip the teacher whether the child might be dyslexic.

Kids can’t follow number patterns, and Math concepts are weak. Writing or reading numbers in reversals,( writing 12 as 21) omissions of numbers. Difficulty in solving word problems. Difficulty in following verbal instructions all at once, missing cues, lack of spatial orientation( not placing digits according to place value) are all indicators of Math learning difficulties.

If so, such children should be referred for assessment by a professional.

Remediation
  • Explaining concepts using easy-to-understand methodologies through objects, and other visual aids.
  • Using  Cuemath concept sheet
  • Practicing concepts already learnt and applying them by way of practice sheets and puzzles.
  • Familiarising pre-concept vocabulary.
How Parents can help
  • Talk to them about their Math worries.
  • Seek professional help as and when required (teachers/counselors)
  • Make math fun by posing simple questions in and around the home. Like, “Can you count the number of lights and fans in our home?” ‘Let’s see how many prime numbers we come across on our day out?”
  • Playing games involving numbers, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Monopoly, and cards that involve Mathematical skills.

CONCLUSION

While Dyslexia does make learning math a little tougher, it is not insurmountable. Even kids with borderline autism can be taught basic Math skills to survive in life. In most cases, the problem lies with the mannerism and the language in which Math is taught. Learning abstract math is an issue as well, due to this. In the end, we must remember that Math is an essential life skill that has to be imparted to even dyslexic individuals to lead an independent life.

To know more about how Cuemath helps your child become better at math:

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