Although they seem to exist on opposite ends of the academic spectrum, there are obvious interactions between language and math. For example, the concepts of quantity and order overlap both academic areas, as does effective reasoning and critical thinking. It’s not surprising then that the research literature reports difficulties that children with language-based learning disabilities confront when learning math, especially at the middle and upper elementary levels (ie., Fazio 1996).
There are academic implications for students with language challenges when we do not consider our role in math. If our role as SLPs is to focus on student’s language abilities for academic and social success, then collaborating with math teachers seems like a worthwhile effort. It would make sense that our student’s language skills would grow with their math skills if math teachers and speech language pathologists collaborate on common goals.
When I began collaborating with math teachers, I was surprised at the number of language challenges my students encountered! I hear things like “tell me what this question wants you to solve” and “tell me how you got the answers”. From vocabulary to causal relationships to metacognitive skills, our students need a large amount of language competence to understand and express mathematical concepts.
After determining common goals, it is important to collaborate on how math teachers and SLPs can achieve these goals together. I have found our role to be very relevant in developing instruction that is visually based. Working with math teachers provides a bridge for students with language challenges by alleviating some of the language load.
My latest packet, Math + Language is the result of collaboration with math teachers to build comprehension skills–it was truly a labor of love. Shifting perspective to exploring math language with our students has been an interesting and rewarding experience. You can take a look at it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Do you work on math concepts with your students? If so, what has worked successfully for you?