Obstacle 1: Reading and comprehension
Learning the language of maths can be very demanding for learners with dyslexia. Learners have to master vocabulary (subtract, fractions, triangle), symbols (+, ÷, %), and concepts (doubling, halving). Struggling to master these ideas can have a knock-on effect on their progress.
Take a simple calculation like 43 + 27. To start the calculation, a learner has to know what the + symbol means and write down the numbers correctly. If the calculation is used in a word problem, a learner has to understand that words like ‘sum’ or ‘total’ mean they’ll have to add.
To support learners with dyslexia in reading comprehension, try these strategies:
- Use the bar model to visualise problems: learners with dyslexia often have difficulty reading word problems and understanding what the problem is about. The bar model acts as a bridge between the words and the abstract calculation.
- Use aperture cards: when learners with dyslexia are faced with a page of calculations, they can struggle to keep track of which calculation they’re working on. Aperture cards (where only one calculation at a time is visible) help learners keep track.
- Use textbooks: give every child with dyslexia their own textbook. This is particularly helpful for learners with dyslexia who find it difficult and distracting to work from the board.