How does dyslexia affect learning math?

Dyslexia can affect a person's ability to read, spell, and process language. These difficulties with learning about letters and sounds can sometimes carry over to math. Students may reverse their numbers when doing math problems, or find it hard to understand and memorize math symbols, terms and language. They may be more prone to forgetting previously learnt methods and sequences.

Many learners with dyslexia have strong spatial visualization skills. This means they often learn better with pictures and objects. It’s also important to remember that each learner with dyslexia is unique and what works for one learner, may not work for another. By making the right accommodations that cater to dyslexic learners, we can make sure that these students have everything they need to succeed in the math classroom.

How to teach math to students with dyslexia

Use physical objects

People with dyslexia tend to be very visual, and adding visual elements to our learning strategies can use this strength. Consider using objects like colorful toys, blocks, dominoes and fraction tiles to enhance a student’s learning experience.

Split complex problems into smaller chunks

Breaking down large concepts or complex problems into more manageable chunks can help dyslexic students focus better and avoid getting overwhelmed.

Use mnemonic devices

These are memory aids that can help students remember information. There are a variety of mnemonic devices available, such as acronyms, rhymes, and visual imagery.

Use positive encouragement and praise

Being a student with dyslexia can at times be challenging, and with this may come negative emotions. Create a calm and positive environment where mistakes are dealt with patiently and progress is celebrated.

Emphasize the importance of checking work

Students with dyslexia may find difficulty with working memory, which can make it difficult for them to check their work for accuracy. As a result, it’s important to highlight the importance of checking over work before submitting, including getting a family member or peer to check over work if needed.

Use technology

Digital math instructional materials offer unparalleled accessibility for all students, regardless of their learning preferences, abilities, or physical impairments.

Learn more about using technology in the math class on our dedicated page.

Webinar: Limitless learning: How to learn, lead and live without barriers

In this session, originally recorded during our Mission Math virtual event, expert, Jo Boaler explores different ways to learn, lead and live. The session explores what this different approach is, thinking about the ways we can teach students to increase equity, engagement, and achievement.

What accommodations can we make for students with dyslexia?

Extra time: Students with dyslexia may need extra time to complete math assignments and tests. This will give them time to process information and avoid mistakes made by stressed rushing.

Provide one-on-one tutoring: A one-on-one tutor can be a great way for dyslexic students to get the individual attention they need to succeed in math. A tutor can help students to break down complex problems into smaller steps, provide extra practice, and offer praise and encouragement.

Offer to speak through problems: Students with dyslexia may need oral instructions in addition to written instructions. This will help them to understand the math concepts and to avoid making mistakes.

Cater for individual needs: No two dyslexic students will have the same needs, so it’s important to accommodate their unique needs. Other accommodations might include preferential seating, reduced noise levels, breaks and the use of a calculator.

How can students with dyslexia benefit from inclusive technology?

We all learn and understand math in different ways. That’s why assistive technology is essential for creating inclusive classrooms that meet the needs of all learners - no matter the ability. Equatio does this by making math and science more accessible and engaging for every student. It allows students to be independent in their study. It gives them choice.

Equatio is a powerful equation editor. It provides multiple ways for teachers and students to interact with math content, including equations, graphs and other notation.

Here are some of the ways Equatio can help students with dyslexia become more empowered and confident learners:

  • Equatio’s Equation Editor is like a super-smart whiteboard that lets students write annotations, sketch freehand, and work through problems line by line. This helps them to document their thought process and to learn more effectively.
  • Working alongside Read&Write, Equatio lets students have their math equations read out loud. This can be particularly helpful for students with dyslexia, as it can make it easier for them to understand and solve math problems.
  • For students with dyslexia, a key part of understanding a math concept is seeing it represented visually. With digital graphing tools, students are able to make deeper connections to the math they can visualize.
  • In today’s digital classroom, fostering collaboration can be difficult but with Equatio’s mathspace, learners are able to work together in a digital space with equations, shapes and freehand drawings. Facilitating collaboration means students with dyslexia can work alongside their peers with a web-based tool that suits the needs of every learner.

Explore Texthelp’s assistive technology

Equatio is a tool that can help students with dyslexia understand math concepts. It allows them to interact with the concepts in ways that suit their learning needs. Equatio takes math beyond paper and pen to allow students to engage with math in an independent and meaningful way. It makes STEM classes more accessible and engaging for every student.

Makes math both digital and accessible. Type, handwrite, or dictate any expression, with no tricky coding to master.

What's next?

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