Do You Teach Mathematics?

Yes, We Teach Mathematics!

At face value, it may appear rather unusual that Speech Pathologists are involved in the teaching of Mathematics, but all too often, we see students who struggle with reading and writing, also experience very similar difficulties with numbers and mathematical concepts.

Students rely on the same learning mechanisms for both maths and literacy. They need to understand key concepts, retain vital information, apply it to novel situations and rehearse it until it becomes automatic.

Maths has a language of its own that children must learn to understand and use. If you think about these four simple sums, you will see that each represents a “sentence” with nouns (numbers) and verbs (operations).

4 + 2 = 6

4 – 3 = 1

4 x 2 = 8

6 ÷ 3 = 2

The numbers are the objects or nouns and the operations (plus, subtract, times, divide) are the actions or verbs.

Children need to understand the meaning of these terms and the influence they have on numbers. They need to know that some operations are defined by several synonyms that may be used interchangeably between text books and teachers. For example, the mathematical concept of ‘division’ can be expressed using several terms: ‘divide’, ‘share’, ‘ sort’, ‘distribute’, ‘split up’ & ‘allocate’.

Furthermore, to add to the complexity, check this out:

7 ÷ 3 = ?

The number which is divided is called the dividend. (7)

The number which divides is called the divisor. (3)

The number which is the result of the division is called the quotient. (2)

If there is any number left over, it is called the remainder. (1)

We know that children who experience language and literacy difficulties are more likely to struggle with mathematical concepts than those who don't. And, just like teaching spelling or reading or writing, when we teach mathematics, our job is to break down abstract / complex / unfamiliar concepts into manageable units via explicit teaching with multiple exposures.

We must ensure that children have “foolproof” methods for learning how to manipulate numbers in their heads and “guaranteed” techniques for expediting arduous processes such as times tables.

Maths + Language = Speech Pathologists!