Tips for Teaching in the Elementary Classroom
Teaching math is teaching math, right? Not by a long shot! The way we approach teaching children is far different from how we teach adults, and both are completely different from how we teach adolescents.
Although certain elements are the same, there are at least six differences in how it is better to teach in the elementary school classroom from how we would teach other students. Here’s a brief rundown of those six differences:
1) Working smarter to keep their attention. Elementary kids cannot focus on a long, drawn-out lecture for 45 minutes. Generally, they need to change up what they’re doing every 10 to 15 minutes. So if you have a 50 minute class, be prepared to change up what they’re doing about four or five times. This keeps it fresh and flowing!
2) We should have to fill the child’s day with interactive activities. Kids won’t recite multiplication tables for 50 minutes, or memorize 50 states without some sort of fun game to do it through. Instead, we have them talk and share. Including activities like puzzles, games and role playing shows, has them learning by doing.
3) We should practice patience. In most cases, young children genuinely want to learn. Katy doesn’t keep missing those subtraction questions to irritate us. She just doesn’t understand it, so rather than be fooled by upset, we exercise patience, find the root of the problem, and help her to overcome it.
4) We should show that we value the student. This actually applies to any age level, but with elementary students, it’s critically important. We’re teaching these kids at a time when they’re developing their self-esteem. When we show them that they’re important by asking them to help us with chores like “leading the line” to lunch or by cleaning the erasers or by complimenting them in class, these things tell the student that they are important and needed in the classroom.
5) We should involve them in team-building activities. Team-building activities are healthy for all students, but is essential for elementary kids. Without team-building activities, the child tends to be very selfish. Involving him or her early in working as a team takes the child’s focus off him/herself as a lone individual and places it with others as a group. Games, puppet shows, and role playing in small groups are examples of ways to teach children to cooperate with others.
Explore math in your day to day routines.
Elementary school children are well aware of their daily routines, and it is easy to incorporate math into their everyday lives. For example, you can use the minutes left on the clock until lunchtime as an exercise for subtraction, or multiplying the number of boys and girls in the class.
Explain math as a way to solve problems.
While math does utilize the methods of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, it is also so much more than these concepts. It can be used to solve problems. Explain to your child how math works to solve different problems, such as knowing how many pieces of cake you need to cut. Go beyond printable worksheets and explore likenesses and differences in your daily routine. This will demonstrate the value of math in their every day lives.