What Numbers Have to Do With Reading Ability

Reading is all about letters, right?  Recognizing letters, understanding that letters make sounds, knowing how to move letters around to make words, and so on.  So, why would numbers have anything to do with reading ability?


Girl with braids wearing blue, holding red book and looking up at colorful numbers. Caption reads: What Numbers Have to Do With Reading Ability


Yes, learning math is a little like learning a new language.  But we’re not talking about math right now.  Nor are we talking about the number of letters, or sounds, or syllables within words.


Instead, we’re talking about using numbers as a vehicle to help readers improve their memory.  If we help children improve their memory we can, in many ways, help improve their ability to read.  How does that work?


Here’s what strong readers remember:


  • The sounds of letters
  • The sounds of letter combinations
  • The rules of reading
  • How to read sight words when they break all of the rules
  • How to manipulate letters to make words
  • That some words look exactly alike even though they mean something entirely different
  • That some words sound exactly alike even though they’re spelled differently
  • The definitions of words


And the list goes on.  Without strong memory, all of the above can suffer.


Weaknesses in auditory memory and visual memory can disrupt children’s reading development.


If you’re unsure whether your child or student struggles with auditory memory, visual memory, or both I invite you to explore this short list of resources:


Auditory Memory

Is Auditory Memory Responsible for Your Child’s Learning Struggles?

How to Help Your Struggling Learner Strengthen Auditory Memory


Visual Memory

The Importance of Visual Sequential Memory

The Book of Visual Memory Activities for Kids


The good news is that we can easily help children strengthen memory skills.


Even better news, strengthening basic auditory and visual memory helps strengthen working memory as well.  You can learn more much more about that and about more (effective) learning intervention strategies with online training here.


Where do numbers play into all of this?  The last 2 items on the resource list above lead you to an activity to strengthen number recall.   We dive much deeper into number and letter recall (and many other strategies) in online training, but the resource list above will get you started.