10 Math Teaching Tips for Elementary School
For many students, math can create an abundance of hidden anxieties. Many children will dismiss math as “stupid” if they have any difficulty or frustration with the topics. As a parent or a teacher, you may find it hard to motivate students to complete math worksheets. Here are some tips to help your students tackle math and overcome anxieties.
Problem solving, mental math, integration of technology, interactive math websites, math games, and more are all critical to helping students understand and learn math.
Teaching math to elementary students is critical for establishing a foundation of success in mathematics. There is a need for some basic memorization of facts, because students who do not memorize arithmetic functions struggle in upper grades. However, math must be fun and interesting.
Math should be fun and interesting. When students become involved in math learning, they retain more than just rote memorization of math facts. Instead of just using worksheets and completing problems on the board, make math fun and challenging.
Keep a positive attitude.
Many parents and teachers are anxious about math themselves, either because they are unsure of how to teach it properly or because they themselves were poor math students. Children can pick up on these emotions easily, so keep your tone and your attitude positive.
Math Teaching Tips
Problem solving, critical thinking, mental math, math games, technology, interactive websites, and more:
1. Asking Questions – write the word “ten” on the board. Now ask students if there is another way to express “ten.” A student may write “10,” now ask is there another way to express “10.” A second student may write “llllllllll,” now ask is there another way to express “llllllllll.” This can be continued until most possibilities are exhausted. Students are using critical problem solving skills and eagerly participate.
2. Collect Own Data– instead of using data for graphing from a text book or worksheet. Let them collect their own data. For example: measuring the lengths of various objects in the classroom or counting the number objects in a box placed on their desk.
3. Positive and Negative Integers Game– divide students in groups and give each group a deck of playing. Red numbers and face cards are negative. Black numbers and face cards are positive. Aces equal “1” and face cards are Jack “11,” Queen “12,” etc. Now then play a game similar to war by attempting to be the first in their group to reach 25.
4. Multiplication Challenge– have all students turn their seats to face the front of the room. Then have a student walk around the room and stand next to another student. Both students stand are asked a multiplication problem, whoever gets it correct first moves on to select another student.
5. Real World Geometry– take students outside and have them draw pictures of all the geometric shapes they see. Then have them share after reentering the classroom.
6. Weekly Word Problems– once a week begin math class with a word problem students must answer related to current concepts being studied. This is a key step in learning how to develop problem solving skills.
8. Math WebQuests– develop your own or find some already prepared and have students work in groups to solve math problems or develop a better understanding of math concepts.
9. Use Math Tradebooks– use tradebooks in connection with concept being studied, such as: Anno’s Magic Seeds, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Sir Cumference, Grapes of Math, and more (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Best Trade Books)
10. GeoBoards– use geoboards for students to design their own shapes and describe them to each other using correct geometric terminology.
Math Conceptual Learning
These 10 tips are designed to support conceptual understanding in support of memorization of math facts. The use of these tips actively engages students in critical thinking skills. Active engagement in the learning process leads to less reliance on worksheets, which students typically view as busy work in upper elementary.
It is important for students be placed in situations in which they must apply what they are learning to personal experiences and situations. This helps reinforce math concepts and moves them to a level of true understanding of mathematics.
Get the kids talking.
Ask your child to complete math problems by talking through the steps. This will allow you to see exactly where his or her train of thought is and where there might be confusion. 6. Teach money skills Even young kids understand that things cost money. By getting them a piggy bank, you can use money as a way to teach counting, addition, and subtraction skills. Older kids can even use fractions and percentages when trying to determine how much money they have saved up towards a desired item. For example, if a movie they want costs $20, and they have saved up $8, they have saved up 2/5 of the amount, or 40%.
Both digital and analog clocks can be useful tools for teaching your child time. Discuss seconds, minutes, hours, and days.
Make math fun.
You can combine teacher worksheets with games to make math more interesting. Play games with flash cards that use different math skills as a way to help your student practice.
Computers make useful tools.
Today’s students are much more comfortable and confident on the computer than their parents were at the same age. There are a variety of computer games that incorporate math skills. Older students may be excited about spreadsheets or calendars as a way to practice math.
Parents and teachers should maintain communication.
Teaching math relies on both the teacher and the parents to help the students learn the skills that they need. By keeping clear communication about the types and frequency of homework assignments, teachers can help identify problems early, working together with parents to solve the issues.