Dyslexia: Understanding Exponents from the gr9 Math curriculum in Ontario

For Parent


Understanding exponents is a fundamental math concept taught in grade nine math classes. An exponent is a shorthand way of representing repeated multiplication and expresses the power of a number. An exponent can be a positive or a negative number, and the equation will provide the answer based on the number the exponent is representing.

Example 1: Squaring a Number

For example, if we look at an equation such as, 62, we can rewrite it as 6   X   6. In this equation, the factor 6 is multiplied two times and the exponent tells us how many times the number should be multiplied. Therefore the answer for this equation is 36.

Example 2: Cubing a Number

Let’s take another example, 43. We can rewrite this equation as 4   X   4   X   4. Here, the exponent is 3 which means we need to multiply the factor 4 three times and the answer to this equation is 64.

Tips for Helping a 14 Year Old With Dyslexia Understand Exponents

It can be hard for students who have Dyslexia to understand the concept of exponents. Here are a few tips on how the parent of a 14 year old with dyslexia can help their child better understand exponents:

Tip 1: Break Down Problems into Smaller Ones

The concepts of exponents can be difficult for student with dyslexia to grasp, so it can be helpful for the parent to break down the equations into smaller parts for their child to understand better. For example, walking them through the process of finding the answer for 32 by first multiplying 3 X 3 and then multiplying 3 X 3 again provides a simpler and easier way for the student to understand exactly how the equation works.

Tip 2: Use Visual Aids

Another tip to help a student with dyslexia understand exponents would be to use visual aids. For example, the parent can make a visual list with the student that shows how the number increases when raised to various powers, such as 42 would be 4 X 4 = 16, 43 would be 4 X 4 X 4 = 64 and 44 would be 4 X 4 X 4 X 4 = 256. This can help the student to gain a clearer understanding of how the equation works.

Tip 3: Practice, Practice, Practice

Lastly, the best way to help a student with dyslexia understand exponents is to practice, practice and practice some more. The parent can have the student practice equations like 32, 43 and 54 until they can do it easily and confidently.

Exponent equation:
an = a   X   a   X  …  X   a   (n times)

Sample Question & Answer:
Q. What is 54?
A. 54 = 5   X   5   X   5   X   5   = 625

For Youth

Hi there! Understanding exponents is an important concept when it comes to math in grade 9. Let’s break it down so that you understand it much better.

Exponents are a way of writing down multiplied numbers shorter. So, instead of writing 10 x 10 x 10, we would just write it as 10^3. The number ‘3’ after the ^ symbol is what’s called the exponent. It puts 10 together 3 times. Many times, the base number (in this case 10) can be omitted or left out. So when you see something written as ‘x^3’, it means ‘x x x’.

Now, a common notion is that exponents are not just limited to 2 or 3 multiplied numbers like in our examples, but any number added together as many times. For example, 3^7 means 3 added together 7 times. It is like writing down (3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3).

In order to help you understand this better, I suggest breaking down the equation into smaller parts. For example, let’s take 3^7. You can try writing it down 7 times and then write the answer using exponents. It is also helpful to make a chart of all the different exponents until 10 with their answers. This will let you easily see how what exponents are and how they work.

Finally, another very helpful technique is to start slow. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a lot of different exponents in one learning session. Take it slow and try to understand each one-on-one.

I hope this has helped you to understand exponents a little bit better. If you have any more questions or need more help, don’t hesitate to ask.