Math is a language

Dyslexia is a different way of processing information and language and this carries over to math, because math is a language unto itself.

  • Vocabulary words may take on a whole new and different meaning in math, such as homophones.
  • Explicit instruction of math vocabulary teaches a student with dyslexia how to read a math equation and use the words to find a deeper meaning of math concepts.
  • Teaching morphology, the study of word parts and their meaning, for a learner with dyslexia connects the language of reading with the language of math.


  • What are three examples of math terms whose meaning is different than in another context?
  • How is teaching the symbol-meaning relationship in math similar to the letter-sound relationship in reading?
  • Why might a student with dyslexia, with strengths in math, struggle with math as a language?

Other resources

Making math connections explicit

Traditionally, math is taught as facts to be memorized and problems to be solved through rote procedures. For the learner with dyslexia, rote memorization isn't a strength but verbal comprehension and big picture are!

  • Learners with dyslexia find meaning within the parts of concepts when given time to think, to work, and to problem solve.  
  • Multisensory instruction in math makes connections between concepts and provides opportunities to connect context to application.
  • Learners with dyslexia often have strong reasoning and logic skills. Given the opportunity to use mental math or verbalization of their answers, demonstrates their reasoning through a dyslexic strength.


  • How can you teach math concepts that are traditionally separated, together?
  • Why is the dyslexic strength of thinking outside the box a benefit in math instruction?
  • Can you identify the benefit of students explaining their reasoning behind how to solve a math problem?

Other resources

  • Math: Counting & Comparing from the Yale Center for Creativity and Dyslexia
  • Number Talks from Scholastic

Math facts

Learners with dyslexia benefit from repeated, meaningful, and intentional practice not only the drill and kill of math fact flashcards.

  • Repetition in a multisensory way, with reinforcement of the concept and targeted techniques, will increase retrieval of math facts.
  • Learners with dyslexia remember math facts best when they have derived meaning from symbols, not through rote memorization.
  • Basic facts are building blocks of math and learners with dyslexia need time to practice and master these.


  • What are some ways to make repetition and practice more meaningful?
  • How can we make math facts more visual for students?
  • How can you encourage students to use the math facts they know to solve what they do not know?

Other resources