How to Teach Fractions to a Dyslexic

Cutting oranges can teach fractions to a dyslexic

How Cutting  up an Orange will Help a Dyslexic Understand Fractions:

Have you ever noticed how your child can’t get fractions? Every time I study the materials for editing purposes, when writing or revising our books and e-books, I learn an interesting fact about Dyslexia. I have never had any dyslexic issues though I am very “right brained”.  I sometimes have problems with dealing with little issues while editing but I am really good at planning for the big picture.  Now, back to what I found interesting, fractions.

In the book “Dyslexia or Being Right Brained” there is a method that is very helpful for kids who have problems learning how to do math problems with fractions. In the book the technique uses a cut up orange for showing the parts that represent fractions. At first this seems a pretty standard idea but there is an added part that puts this all together. There has to be a whole, uncut orange near the cut up orange at all times. The idea of fractions can seem pretty abstract to a dyslexic.  By having the whole orange present the student sees that the parts are actually part of a whole item and this is a real world “concrete” example not a bunch of abstract concepts and symbols on paper.

Karen Hope, the co-founder of our website and the books, had an inspiration when teaching her daughter Genevieve, who was about 9 years old at the time. Gen just couldn’t get the idea of what a fraction represented.  Her mom tried all the standard tricks the school had but with no success. Even showing actual fractions of a cut up orange instead of just numbers on a page didn’t work.

Then Karen had the inspiration. One of the most important aspects to understand when teaching a person with dyslexic issues is to present a new concept by showing the whole image or a real world “concrete” example. So she had the “concrete” example, she just needed the whole image part, that’s when she added a whole, uncut orange. By having the entire orange present while cutting up another orange Karen was able to display that the fractions were actually parts of the whole orange.  Once Genevieve saw this she got the idea of fractions and no longer had problems with them.  Simple and profound.

I guess the point I am trying to make here is even though dealing with dyslexia for yourself or a child can seem daunting, many times it is the simple changes that can have really positive results. As I continue to edit and revise the books and continue my research duties I see that most often the little changes in perception make the largest differences.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need to understand that one of the most difficult challenges for people dealing with dyslexia is being understood. The questions they ask usually tell us what they need.

In our book “Dyslexia or Being Right Brained” we fully explain why this method works for the dyslexic. Included in this book are: spelling solutions, color coding words, taking measurements, telling time, using weights and using money too.

Click on the following link and visit the website. You will find our books and lots of free information – or

Happy trails.

Howie deGraaf

Editor for Dyslexia Victoria Online

Howard deGraaf, editor for Dyslexia Victoria Online

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