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Maths has its own language, and this can be the root of many problems. Whilst some dyslexic students are good at maths, it has been estimated that around 90% of dyslexic children have problems in at least some areas of maths. General mathematical terminology words need to be clearly understood before they can be used in calculations, e.g. add, plus, sum of, increase and total, all describe a single mathematical process. Other related difficulties could be with visual/perceptual skills, directional confusion, sequencing, word skills and memory. Dyslexic students may have special difficulties with aspects of maths that require many steps or place a heavy load on the short-term memory, e.g. long division or algebra.

The value of learning the skills of estimation cannot be too strongly stressed for the dyslexic child. Use and encourage the use of estimation. The child should be taught to form the habit of checking his answers against the question when he has finished the calculation, i.e. is the answer possible, sensible or ludicrous?

When using mental arithmetic allow the dyslexic child to jot down the key number and the appropriate mathematical sign from the question.

Encourage pupils to verbalize and to talk their way through each step of the problem. Many children find this very helpful.

Teach the pupil how to use the times table square and encourage him to say his workings out as he uses it.

Encourage a dyslexic child to use a calculator. Make sure he fully understand how to use it. Ensure that he has been taught to estimate to check his calculations. This is a way of 'proof reading' what he does.

Put key words on a card index system or on the inside cover of the pupils maths book so it can be used for reference and revision.

Rehearse mathematical vocabulary constantly, using multi sensory/kinesthetic methods.

Put the decimal point in red ink. It helps visual perception with the dyslexic child.

Handwriting:

Reasons for poor handwriting at any age can be poor motor control, tension, badly formed letters, speed etc. A cursive joined style is most helpful to children with dyslexic problems. Encourage the children to study their writing and be self-critical. Get them to decide for themselves where faults lie and what improvements can be made, so that no resentment is built up at yet another person complaining about their written work.

Discuss the advantages of good handwriting and the goals to be achieved with the class. Analyze common faults in writing, by writing a few well chosen words on the board for class comment.

Make sure a small reference chart is available to serve as a constant reminder for the cursive script in upper and lower case.

If handwriting practice is needed it is essential to use words that present no problem to the dyslexic child in terms of meaning or spelling.

Improvement in handwriting skills can improve self confidence, which in turn reflects favorably throughout a pupil's work.

Marking of work:

Credit for effort as well as achievement are both essential. This gives the pupil a better chance of getting a balanced mark. Creative writing should be marked on context.

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