Dyslexia: Understanding Exponents from the gr9 Math curriculum in Ontario

For Parent

Introduction

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