It’s fairly common knowledge that dyslexia affects the ability to read, write and spell. But did you know that dyslexia in maths also has an impact on how maths problems are processed?
If your child is having problems learning basic maths functions, undiagnosed dyslexia could be the reason.
Here are some signs dyslexia in maths may be affecting your child’s maths learning:
Transfer of numbers incorrectly
You may notice your child getting an answer right in the first step of a multi-step maths problem, only to transfer that answer wrongly into the next step (usually reversing the number order – e.g. the answer is 24 but they transfer it as 42). Consequently, the rest of the answers will be wrong even if your child has used the correct calculation steps.
Difficulty with directions of working
Your child may find different sums confusing in how they are worked out with some being solved top to bottom or right to left when they learn to read left to right.
Telling time on an analogue clock
While all children initially find telling time from an analogue clock a challenge, if your child makes no progress in this regard, looking into getting a diagnosis for dyslexia may be a next step.
Poor working memory
Working memory is the ability to hold information over short periods of time as you are working with it and to organise information into the proper sequence. Dyslexic people find this challenging and this affects their ability to do multi-step problem-solving questions.
Maths reading comprehension
Complex questions in maths require a high reading comprehension level. If your child has dyslexia in maths they often can’t understand what is being asked as they read the question. Then they won’t be able to complete the question even if they can do the maths concepts behind it. In maths, there are many terms that mean the same thing such as “sum”, “plus”, “increase”, “add”, and this can also add to the confusion.
How can you support your child?
1. Contact your doctor and ask for a referral on for your child’s learning difficulty to be properly diagnosed, explaining that you suspect dyslexia in maths. Once you know the real issue, steps can be taken to provide support.
2. Enrol your child in the Dyslexia Association if dyslexia is the diagnosis. Here, your child will get help with tackling maths in a way that helps them and it can make a huge difference in your child’s progress. Have the association give you clear instructions on how you and your child’s teacher can support your child’s learning around maths.
3. Speak with your child’s teacher to ensure they are lending as much support as they can and provide the teacher with the instructions around dyslexia in maths you have been given on how best to teach your child.
4. Get your child to practise doing maths with objects they can hold and move rather than just words and symbols on a page. In multi-step sums, when transferring information from one step to the next, have them touch the information with their fingers and read the numbers out loud. This helps them to transfer the information correctly.
5. Allow your child to use a calculator and ensure they know how to use it correctly.
6. Allow your child to talk out loud through the problem-solving process. It doesn’t help dyslexic children to learn in silence.
7. Ensure mastery of one skill before moving onto the next.
8. Try and apply what is being taught in maths to real-world examples so they can see why they are doing the calculations.
Dyscalculia could be another reason and while it is different from dyslexia in maths, they share a lot of the same support tips. You can check out our previous article of dyscalculia here.