The Eyes Have It When 5 + 1 = 5
Some students are behind at school through no fault of their own.
They look at the work and don’t understand what is going on. They ask themselves “Why am I the only person in this class who doesn’t get this?” Eventually they begin to believe “I must be a real dummy I just don’t understand why I keep getting this wrong!” Their self-confidence disintegrates and at times their behaviour will follow. After all, “What is the point of turning up every day if I can’t learn this?”
What is happening with this student?
What would happen if you saw the number zero as a one? For one thing sometimes five plus one will equal six and other times it will equal five. When you are in primary school and just learning about numbers and maths, things will become almost incomprehensible. You won’t understand why sometimes ten is ten and sometimes it’s eleven. Everything will become an exercise in guess work for you. These students will also have trouble seeing decimal points, and fractions are just another language when your eyes skip over the line between the numerator and denominator.
That’s just maths. When they read, “was” can become “saw” and whole lines are skipped because the eyes didn’t see the line to read it. By the time they are Year 7 their reading comprehension is extremely low and there are gaps in their mathematics understanding because fractions and decimals don’t exist.
The problem is with their eye tracking.
Eye Tracking issues occur when the two eyes don’t move smoothly and accurately across a line or from word to word. The student will often lose their place while reading, skip lines, misread short words as in “was” and “saw” and cut off the beginnings and endings of words.
Eye tracking issues are usually corrected by visiting a Behavioural Optometrist who tests for the condition and prescribes glasses that are worn until the condition is corrected. Normal optometrists don’t usually check or test for this condition, so if your student has glasses and their schoolwork has not improved it may be time to visit the specialist.
By Peter Kenyon: Online Maths Tutor