One of the best things you can possibly do for your students is to get them interested in Math at an early age. How many teenagers insist that they will never be good at math, and hate anything to do with it? That kind of thinking severely affects their enjoyment of school, and more importantly, their career possibilities.
So if you’re handling an elementary mathematics class, you have a golden opportunity to get them started on the right foot. You can help them understand that math is fun and very useful. This isn’t an easy task, but here are several tips to help you.
1. Focus on simplifying – Many of today’s elementary mental mathematics workbooks are very simple and easy to understand, but others are needlessly complicated. Look through your material and see if there’s anything you can change to make it easier for your students to digest.
2. Integrate math into fun activities – Staring at a blackboard is hardly mentally stimulating, so liven things up with occasional classroom games and activities. There are many interesting games out there, but you can also make up some of your own.
3. Use positive reinforcement – Many children, unfortunately, have deep rooted beliefs about their own math competency. Some think that they are not talented enough, and you will need to use plenty of positive reinforcement to overcome these mental barriers. Work with them slowly and patiently, and generously praise them for their progress.
4. Set up a fun progression system – The best way to become proficient at math is through practice; however, there is usually very little incentive for children to do so. One of the most effective ways to encourage this is by taking a hint from classic RPGs; implement a game-like progress system in your classroom.
Use things such as levels, badges for achievements, and a scoreboard to drive them to compete. If you cannot come up with one yourself, there are plenty of free learning apps, such as King of Math, that you can use as inspiration.
5. Draw from real life examples – Use scenarios, such as shopping for groceries and sorting ingredients for cooking. This is much easier for children to relate to, and they’ll be eager to show off their new knowledge to their parents.
Children naturally love doing puzzles, counting, and discovering patterns. They don’t see it as work. Nobody really starts out hating math, so make sure that their early experience with it is a positive one.