Math has traditionally been the most intimidating subject for paraeducators and students alike. With its own language, which includes terms, symbols, diagrams and equations to name a few, it appears as a foreign language to many individuals. In addition, research has shown that females have more anxiety about math than males.
Many students with learning issues have great difficulty in math. Not only does math have its own language, but it also uses reading, perceptual, memory and processing skills to complete tasks. In order to address students’ math needs, paraeducators need to have a wide range of knowledge covering multiple issues.
What people fear, they tend to avoid. Paraeducators, the majority of whom are females, are often less comfortable with math than with other subjects. When paraeducators assist students, they often begin the session dealing with those subject areas with which they are more comfortable. As a result, there may not be enough time to deal adequately with math. Thus the area of greatest need may often get the least attention.
If paraeducators are to be effective in assisting students with math, it is imperative that they have additional training. Paras need to fully understand the complexities of math disabilities. Moreover, they need to be taught practical, easy to use strategies which will address students’ math needs. Only when paras feel more comfortable with math and have adequate resources at their fingertips, will they be able to maximize student achievement.