- Instant Reader
- August 31, 2017, 11:23 pm
I am not a math genius. Neither am I a math lover. But surprisingly, according to studies, math is easier to learn (and to teach) than reading!
Educators like me, even the policy makers and business icons worry about the state of math education, particularly in comparison with our neighboring countries like China, Singapore and Taiwan. But reading comprehension may be a larger stumbling block.
Studies have repeatedly found that ‘teachers have bigger impacts on math test scores than on English test scores’ (Rockoff, 2014). Teachers and administrators say one reason teachers struggle to help these students improve reading comprehension is that deficits start at such a young age.
From the numerous recent researches done globally on the study of Reading, one of the most compelling findings reveals that children who get off to a poor start in reading rarely catch up. This is something I could truly attest. I have dealt with students starting from first grade to sixth level really having a hard time coping in all their subjects and struggling to finish a task. They even show pits of depression simply because reading is a total burden for them. Nothing is more conclusive than their poor start in reading. Bridging the gap is a huge task to take. These kids were left behind.
Education experts also say reading development simply requires that students spend so much more time practicing. If a student has a small vocabulary, he will have a much harder time learning new words from context (because there will be too many unfamiliar words in the text to deduce the meaning of the unfamiliar words from context), he will be frustrated by reading, he will avoid reading whenever possible, and these factors will combine to place the small- vocabulary student further behind each year.
To make things worse, methods for teaching reading have wildly fluctuated in the last thirty years. It was like a “War Between The Reading Methods” –phonetic versus whole language. Millions of kids did not get a sound foundation due to the extremes of the argument. So many of the current generation of teachers lack the blending of both methods. To teach reading has always been challenging. It is a very personal process for a child and demands personal interaction.
So much attention and research has been focused on early childhood reading over the past few decades. Researchers are now catching up to learn more about early math learning and instruction. What they’ve learned so far is intriguing. For example, researchers have found that young children are, by nature, curious about math. They have good evidence that math becomes real to young children as they use it by talking, reasoning, playing, and doing. And, they have a better understanding of how preschoolers’ early exploration of math helps them make sense of their world and what kinds of instruction and practice are needed to help them build new skills and deepen their knowledge.
Another surprising research finding is that preschoolers appear to learn math concepts and operations in a much less predictable sequence than they do when learning to read. Most young children acquire reading awareness and skills in a fairly linear fashion. Think of it this way: Imagine a tower of blocks, with necessary skills — like print awareness — providing a foundation on which to build other skills — like phonemic awareness. Early math learning, on the other hand, is more like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, with children mastering math concepts in no set sequence but still managing to assemble the complete picture over time. While there is no agreed-upon continuum for learning early math, researchers have identified areas of math learning with specific “growth points” that young children achieve as they become more skilled math learners . (These findings are based on the work of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel and the Early Childhood Mathematics project of the National Academy of Sciences.)
Preschoolers learn math by exploring their world. On the other hand, they learn how to read through a systematic yet complicated approach, guided by a trained teacher. This makes math easier to learn than reading
About the Author
Hi! I’m Teacher Vicki the author and founder of Instant Reader™ . My 25 years in the teaching field continues to strengthen my conviction that an effective and proper reading foundation indeed gives any child a significant edge not just in school but life in totality. Children who are early readers are lovers of learning. They lead, they stand out and are able to unleash their full potentials.
I want to hear from you. Your thoughts, comments and suggestions are very much welcome. It’s always great to keep on learning from each other.
( BS Development Communication, UP Los Banos; M.A.in Education, UP Diliman; Diploma in Dyslexia , Blackford Centre for Dyslexia, UK, London)