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  • Writer's picturedrlynnekenney

How is the Cognitive Skill "Sequencing" Important in Reading and Math?

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

The role of executive function skills in reading and math is becoming better known in education. Understood in the clinical treatment of ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia,

and ASD for over 20 years, we are now applying executive function skill development strategies we use in the clinic, in classrooms worldwide. Today, let’s talk about sequencing.

Cognitive Sequencing is the ability to perceive, represent and execute a set of actions that follow a particular order. This ability underlies planning, problem-solving, speech, language, reading, and math. When children are able to sequence their thoughts, action, words, procedures, and approach to tasks, learning, and behavior are managed with greater ease.

Sequencing plays a crucial role in both reading and math as it helps to develop and enhance important cognitive skills needed for learning. Here are a few examples of when sequencing is important:


In reading, sequencing refers to the ability to understand, follow and apply the order of tasks needed to encode, decode, read fluently, and comprehend what is read.

a. Phonics: Mapping phonemes to graphemes requires sound, alphabetic, and sequencing knowledge.

b. Comprehension: Sequencing helps readers understand the logical progression of a story or text. It allows them to make connections between events, identify cause and effect relationships, and comprehend the overall meaning of the text.

c. Contextual understanding: Sequencing enables readers to grasp the context of a story or informational text. By following the sequence of events or ideas, readers can interpret the meaning and significance of each element within the larger context.

d. Storytelling skills: Sequencing is essential for effective storytelling. When retelling a story or summarizing a text, individuals need to organize the events in a logical sequence, ensuring that the narrative flows coherently.


In mathematics, sequencing involves arranging numbers, operations, or steps in the correct order. Here's why sequencing is important:

a. Numeracy: Cardinality, ordinality, number decomposition, and order of operation all require sequencing ability.

b. Problem-solving: Many math problems require a step-by-step approach. Sequencing helps students understand the order in which operations need to be performed to arrive at the correct solution. For example, in solving equations, understanding the correct order of operations (e.g., PEMDAS/BODMAS) is essential.

c. Mathematical reasoning: Sequencing assists in developing logical thinking and mathematical reasoning skills. It helps students identify patterns, make predictions, and understand mathematical relationships by recognizing the sequence of numbers or operations involved.

d. Algorithmic thinking: Sequencing is fundamental in algorithmic thinking, which is an essential skill in computer science and problem-solving. Algorithms require a precise sequence of steps to achieve a desired outcome.

Overall, sequencing is important in reading and math because it promotes literacy, numeracy, comprehension, logical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to communicate ideas effectively.

We tell our students, “The Sequence is the Secret”. When students are able to approach language, reading, and numeracy with sequencing in mind, they are more efficient in both reading and math.

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