Everyone has subjects that come quickly to them and those that are more of a struggle. But what happens when learning challenges affect multiple content areas, such as math and reading?
Reading disabilities and their influence on math achievement
learning disability statistics, it is estimated that about 8% of children in the United States have a learning disability related to reading. Dyslexia is the most common, which involves 5 to 15 percent of Americans with difficulty reading, writing, and spelling, regardless of effort or intelligence. Dyslexia is just one type of reading disability. Students can also have disorders that involve specific skills like decoding, fluency, or comprehension. Reading disabilities don’t just affect reading class because those skills are involved in every other content area, including math.
reading affect math? While math primarily deals with numbers, there is a substantial amount of reading. It’s not just reading the word problems, either. Reading skills like sequencing, cause and effect, comparing and contrasting, inferring, and predicting are part of solving math problems. Students have to interpret and explain their thinking in math, which starts with fundamental communication skills like speaking, reading, and writing. When students can’t move beyond the challenges in reading skills, solving the math problem becomes out of reach.
How reading comprehension and math problem solving go hand-in-hand
Just understanding the directions can feel like a test for a student with a reading disability. Word problems are especially difficult for those students. Reading comprehension and math are interconnected because it takes both reading and math skills to solve math problems. Students with reading disabilities are caught up with the challenges of reading, so math becomes a struggle as a result. Improving math skills is tough when students fight just to understand the problem.
Some students can quickly find answers to a straightforward problem with numbers. Throw in a short paragraph to set up the same problem, and it becomes a different story. That’s because reading comprehension becomes the focus instead of the math problem. Students who have difficulty reading and comprehending text have difficulty identifying the question to answer. This leads to creating and answering the wrong equation even if the student has the math skills to solve the actual problem.
Bridging the gap for struggling readers and struggling mathematicians
Statistics show that about 60% of students diagnosed with learning disabilities drop out of high school. That’s a staggering number! The goal is to keep students in school and learning to their full potential. Doing that requires communication and dedication on the part of the educators and the students.
For students struggling with the effects of reading disabilities on math skills, it’s crucial to find strategies and tools that allow them to see progress. Celebrating small victories along the way can make all the difference.
Here are some ideas to try:
Discuss and consistently use math vocabulary.
Make a Word Wall for math words.
Read about math, including picture books, texts, fiction, and trade books.
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