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Math & Writing Help for Kids With Learning Disabilities

by Erica Loop, studioD

Forty-one percent of students who receive special education services have diagnosed learning disabilities, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Although no cure or magic fix exists for a learning disability, providing kids who have these disorders with extra math and writing help can increase their scholastic successes and help them to become better students.

Basics Before

Prior to choosing the type of help that a student needs, it's essential to understand her specific learning disability and how math or writing remediation can assist scholastically. Not every child with a "learning disability" has the same problems and issues. The pediatric pros at the KidsHealth website note that students can have one type of learning disability or a combination of different ones. Common learning disabilities include dyslexia -- struggling to recognize or process letters and sounds -- and dyscalculia -- or difficulty in math. Additionally, children with behavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder often have learning disabilities because of their inability to focus.

Math Mishaps

Depending on the child's age and his specific disability, you'll need to investigate different types of math help. The NCLD notes that young children often show math-related learning disabilities when learning how to count, recognizing printed numbers and organizing or sorting items. A school-aged or older child often has difficulty with basic math facts such as addition or subtraction, solving problems, memorizing or measuring quantities. According to the NCLD, identifying the child's strengths and areas for improvement is key to helping him succeed at math. Teachers and parents can use strategies that match the child's areas for improvement or play up his strengths to build his math abilities. For example, instead of expecting the child to memorize math facts, you can explain that multiplying by two means doubling or use concrete examples such as counting beads instead of more abstract concepts.

Written Work

Students who suffer from a language-based learning disability -- such as dyslexia -- may not only have difficulty writing but also dislike or even dread written assignments. Providing help to a dyslexic writing student often means breaking down this complex process into smaller, more achievable steps that include hearing sounds in words and knowing what letters to write down, building vocabulary skills, understanding grammar and syntax and identifying different types of writing. Understating the student's areas for improvement can help to tailor strategies to fit her specific needs. For example, if the student has issues with spelling, you can start by having her use letter tiles to build-up her skills before delving into a written assignment.

Finding Focus

For some children with learning disabilities, concentrating and focusing on math and writing work seems like an almost impossible concept. That said, providing help when it comes to focus offers these children the chance to learn and develop new skills. Set the stage for schoolwork and give the child a private place to complete math or writing assignments that has few or no distractions. Offer one-on-one tutoring to keep the child focused on the math or writing task, instead of letting his mind or actions wander.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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