Among the many challenges facing dyslexic students in the midst of the pandemic is holding on to skills and continuing to make progress in the midst of disruptions and altered schedules due to the pandemic.
Because so much math builds on previous knowledge, many parents and teachers are reasonably concerned about what the pandemic and its disruptions will do to math learning in the coming year.
Traditional math education may be a poor fit for many students based on its emphasis on rote learning and speed. Students lacking automaticity will have added burdens working problems by hand.
What often rescues students in math is not pure drill.
If your student’s upcoming year plan looks like a patchwork of in-person and remote learning, or all remote learning, don’t brood over these lost hours of classroom learning. Chances are, more of traditional time spent in learning may not have helped that much. Instead look for how more out-of-class time can be spent in teaching methods better matched to how your student learns.
While there is no single learning profile for math and dyslexic students, there are common patterns that help:
– Multisensory math presentations that present information in more than one way – visual, kinesthetic, verbal
– Attention to working memory overload concerns – simplifying and breaking down complex information into smaller bits
– Defining math terms and vocabulary and calling attention to potential ambiguities add sources of confusion
– Explicit modeling of problem solving with examples building on strengths in students’ reasoning.
There can often be a great deal of time wasted when traditional math courses instruct dyslexic students. Before students have a good grasp of new concepts being presented, they may be rushed to complete homework problems where misconceptions and calculating mistakes grow.
To make sure your student doesn’t fall behind with the chaos of the new routines in school or if you plan to homeschool for the Fall semester, you might want to consider an online program.
Most programs have free trials or demo sites that allow you to see how they are organized, and we would highly recommend them. The formats vary considerably, from full video courses (as if you were sitting in a math class), to gamified experiences, to bare bones, just get me through the experience as quickly as possible formats.
A big list of online Math resources and comprehensive math learning sites can be found at We Are Teachers below. (Click the photo)
Some students struggle with engaging or persisting with online math programs, so observe your student and ask them how they felt about different platforms that they tried.
For students who really struggle, they may need to ask questions about definitions and notation that is not available with off the rack programs. Most programs have systems of hints, but that might not be sufficient for students who need to know “why” in order to proceed.
Also, in the selection of a math program, individual student differences may be noted in terms of the pace of instruction, audio support, and visual examples.
If concepts and sample problems are presented clearly, most dyslexic students do not require extensive repetition. If a program spends too much time working through assigned problems that have already been mastered, it may allow less time for new concepts and also not incorporated review (spiraling curriculum) as part of its curriculum.
Finally, there may be unanticipated upsides to student learning incorporating more remote learning in the upcoming semester. Many dyslexic students benefit from being able to listen, pause, and re-listen to subjects like math that often present visual and auditory information in rapid succession. While working at home it will also be much more likely that students will have calculator accommodations in their work.