Math and Language Arts: Understanding Connections Between the Core Subjects

It’s no secret that academic success often comes down to two essential skills: mathematics and language arts (English). After all, these are the two areas of study that are most heavily tested in school, and they intersect another core subject, science. However, many people have not considered the strong relationship between mathematics and language skills.

This relationship makes sense when you think about it. After all, both mathematics and language require logical thinking and careful attention to detail. They also both involve memorization, rote learning, and the ability to see patterns and make connections. In other words, if you’re good at one, you’re more likely to be good at the other.

Math learning starts with language.

Young children are exposed to math concepts as they explore the natural world, and the understanding of mathematical ideas begins with language. For example, ideas of physical states such as size, weight, and quantity begin with understanding vocabulary such as more and less or heavy and light. Preschools use experiential learning, play, and reading activities to build these language-based math concepts, and it is not until later that children will begin to apply symbols and numbers to the language of math.

There is a strong interplay of math and language throughout a student’s academic journey.

Both math and language learning require students to apply domain-general, executive-functioning skills. Executive functions refer to high-order thinking skills that allow us to do everything from assimilating information to making conclusions to generalizing what we know to new situations. Children who develop these cognitive skills have firm foundations for math and language to flourish.

That said, how does language support math? Language supports math for word problems as well as how to organize information, sequence steps, and arrive at conclusions. When a child is struggling with weak language comprehension or expression, there is also a good chance that they will find challenges in fluid thinking for complex math that moves beyond simple computations.

Additionally, we can examine the opposite relationship—how math supports language arts. Mathematical thinking helps children develop conceptualization, ordered thinking, and visualization skills. These skills overlap language-based skills such as reading and writing, where students must infer, comprehend, and connect new information to the world they know.

Parents can help their children develop efficient math and language processes.

For students who struggle in either math or language arts, it’s important to get help early on. Programs like those offered at Best in Class Education Centers that focus on building the fundamental skills for reading, English, and math through quality curriculum and engaged learning can get your child on track. With summer on the horizon, it’s a great time to line up supplemental education to help your child get off to a strong, confident start for the next school year.

Supplemental education or enrichment education is not just for children who struggle. It is for children to sustain and accelerate their skills, too. Our guided and fun learning opportunities will keep boredom at bay and young minds stimulated during their school vacation months.

Other ways you can help your child at home include:

  • Encouraging your child to read regularly. Reading helps improve vocabulary, grammar, and spelling skills, which are essential for academic success. It also helps develop critical thinking skills.

  • Nurturing your child’s natural curiosity. Help your child explore the world around them. Going to museums, walking around the park, collecting seashells on vacation, or gardening are opportunities to learn about new things and expand vocabulary.

  • Playing classic board games that involve counting money, making guesses, and strategizing. Your child will be exercising critical thinking skills without realizing they’re learning.

By taking the time to strengthen both language and math skills, students will be better equipped for success across all their subjects.

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