Children with language disabilities may have difficulty in learning math concepts and solving word problems. Children with receptive and expressive language difficulties struggle to express their ideas and show how they solve word problems. Some parents might feel frustrated that their children don’t understand what they are learning. Not only them, but also children can get frustrated, too. Sometimes it affects their self-esteem, and we do not want our children to feel bad about themselves. Here are some tips that you can use to help your child learn math and at the same time boost their confidence in solving problems.
1. Ask your child how they feel about math. Most children that are having difficulties learning math may feel negatively towards it. They may say that they don’t want to study it anymore because they do not understand it. Some are frustrated, and some are determined to continue learning. Whatever it is, we should ask them how they feel. In that way, we will know how we can help and encourage them.
2. Partner with teachers. Have you been actively involved in your child’s education? Parents should be keen on what's going on with their children in school. Teachers would be a great help, especially in partnering with you in teaching them.
You can ask for a parent-teacher conference to discuss further how you can help each other.
Ask the teacher to provide an evaluation of your child’s performance in class. After reading the assessment, discuss the goals that need to be aimed at school and home.
Ask the teacher to teach you the specific strategies they use successfully with your child, and you can also use these strategies at home.
You can also request modifications if your child is diagnosed with language or learning disabilities. It will be included in the IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) for children with special needs.
3. Use hands-on materials and manipulatives to deepen your child’s level of mathematical understanding. Here are some examples of tools that will support them as they learn math concepts.
a. Flashcards - It might be boring with some kids, but consider flashcards to memorize math facts. Some flashcards are colorful and have pictures, too. It sounds more fun to learn with those kinds of visuals. You can also create flashcards with your child. It will take time, but it will be a lot of fun with a kid who loves art.
b. Math Online Games - It will be a lot of fun to learn math. You can install math learning apps like Prodigy Math Game, Math Training for Kids, and a lot more. These are available on iOS and Android.
c. Manipulatives- What are manipulatives? According to Merriam-Webster, manipulatives are objects (such as blocks) that a student is instructed to use in a way that teaches or reinforces a lesson. Here are some examples of manipulatives that you can use in teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and, division at home:
base ten blocks
d. Objects You Can Find at Home - You may not have time to buy manipulatives, but the good news is that we are not limited to those! You can use candies, coins, buttons, popsicle sticks as DIY manipulatives.
e. Practice Telling Time - Buy a clock that can move the hands to tell the time. Start teaching from 12 o’clock to 11 o’clock. Then, later on, you can teach 12:30 as half past 12, 1:30 as half past 1, and so on. Once your child is familiar with telling time, you can incorporate it into your child’s daily activities. You can ask, “What do you see on the clock?” or “What time is it?” Some children may struggle, especially with the “half past” concept. Just be patient, it takes time and a lot of practice to tell time!
f. Practice Using a Calculator - Calculators are used in the classroom, and even in the market. Practicing using a calculator will help your child get familiar with it.
4. Teach Word Problems and Have Fun - Math problems are the most difficult for children with language disabilities. They may not just have difficulty understanding word problems, but also expressing how they solve them. Here are some ways you can help them learn and lessen their frustration in solving math problems.
Create a Word Problem Set-Up - Create 4-6 word problems and place them inside the task folders. Your child takes one word problem at a time to solve it. In that way, your child won’t be overwhelmed to see all the word problems. Add cut-out pictures or stickers, too!
Re-write Word Problems - Avoid creating confusing sentences. Instead, use simple sentence structure in creating word problems. You can also reduce the number of words used in a word problem, and include only those words that are needed in solving the problem.
Add Pictures or Drawings to the Word Problem - Visual aids are a big help to children in understanding word problems. It gives them a hint of what the problem talks about. Just make sure you don’t draw the whole picture, give room for them to think through it.
5. Provide A Step-by-Step Model - There are many methods in solving math. Creating a step-by-step model will help them be familiar with those methods.
Your children may struggle with school work, but you can help them learn in a fun way. When you incorporate things that they have an interest in at home, surely they will enjoy studying. It can be difficult to teach them daily. There are times that it will be a challenge to convince them to learn with you. You, as the parent, will have to think of many strategies of how to help your child. Working with your child’s educational and developmental team will ensure your child gets all the support they need.
As a parent of a learning-challenged child, you have the power to ensure that your child receives the help, support, and intervention they need at school and home. It may take time and effort to set a routine for after school teaching, but it will pay off over time in confidence and growth.
If your child has language difficulties, they may also need intervention by a speech-language pathologist targeting language understanding and development. An SLP may also be able to provide additional information to teachers about recommendations for optimal learning based on your child’s individual needs. Language is a huge part of math learning and development. At Tandy Therapy, SLPs assess language skills as they relate to all areas of developmental need and make recommendations based on demonstrated needs. Call us today if you believe your child could use an evaluation and recommendations tailored to their strengths and areas they struggle with.
Derderian A. Best practices in service provisions in mathematics for students with learning difficulties/high incidence disabilities (RTI, specific strategies, specific interventions). J Sci Res Rep. 2014;3(20):2665-2684. doi:10.9734/JSRR/2014/11496
Gibby-Leversuch R, Hartwell BK, Wright S. Dyslexia, literacy difficulties and the self-perceptions of children and young people: A systematic review. Curr Psychol. 2019. doi:10.1007/s12144-019-00444-1
Speech and Language Therapy
Individual therapy is provided in our home-based office setting and is one-on-one with a certified speech-language pathologist. We always invite families and caregivers to be active members of the team and therapy sessions. We specialize in working with children and their families (siblings included!) to address communication challenges in the following areas:
Childhood Apraxia of Speech
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About the Author
Jermaine Roxas is a special educator who also works as the social media manager with the Tandy Therapy team. Tandy Therapy LLC is a multi-disciplinary clinic that offers speech-language, occupational, and physical intervention to pediatric clients at their home office in Post Falls, ID, as well as via telepractice around the country. You may call the team at 208-981-1111 to set up a strengths-based evaluation if you feel that language learning and understanding may be affecting your child’s school work.