“The studies vary in how severe they gauge the so-called “COVID slide” to be, but all of them found on average, students would lose more ground in math than in reading. Three studies based on NWEA data predicted students could learn half or up to a full year less math in 2020-21, compared to what they would learn in a typical year.”
— Education Week
Parents, teachers, and educational experts are reasonably concerned about students’ math learning in the midst of the pandemic. Math is incremental, meaning it builds on mastery of other subjects, and it is also a requirement for higher education and many well-paying jobs.
For many dyslexic students, their math needs may not have been even formally identified in the context of their dyslexia, even though studies have shown a high overlap of dyscalculia (40%; Wilson et al., 2015), it is uncommon to see IEPs routinely consider the presence of math disabilities among their dyslexic students.
Math difficulties can impact students in the areas of symbol confusion, reversals, impaired sequencing, working memory, in addition to language aspects.
With schools hampered in their ability to monitor the daily progress of their students, and many not able to properly assess students, parents should be vigilant about their students’ progress or lack of progress in mathematics.
Often dyslexic students need practical applications of concepts that they are learning and unhurried time to work through problems with manipulatives and math facts tables and cheat sheets as they work to understand what and why they are doing certain steps as they solve problems.
If you are a parent or tutor working with a student, use color coding and large box graph paper as you work through multi-stepped problems.
Custom box graph paper can be downloaded and printed at home here.
If you are working with a student who is behind in math, it may seem counterintuitive to have the student do non-assigned work in addition trying to catch up on school work, but dyslexic students must understand the basic principles behind math operations and steps before being asked to do more abstract number work. Without this foundation being absolutely solid, any information added later will not stick.
If missing assignments are piling up with a student and they are becoming anxious and despairing, try to intervene and support them in a request for a modification in the course. Anxiety, worry, and stress only make it more difficult for a student to show progress. Often when a student is given protected time to work with a parent, sibling, or other tutor, they can make rapid progress if they grasp the principles.
For example, if a student is having difficulty with various math procedures involving fractions, it is best to go to the very beginning, folding paper to represent fractions, then moving onto fraction tiles. Let students work with a fraction tile chart in view as well as with correctly solved similar problems in view.
You might also want to check our article MATH: What Errors are Due to Dyslexia? to know more about the challenges of dyslexic students when it comes to Mathematics.