5 Tips on How You Can Motivate Elementary School Students To Learn Math

Students often sigh and complain when faced with math homework or the prospect of attending a mathematics class. The subject is commonly regarded as one of the most formidable in school. Students shy away from it when they can, especially those who lack confidence in their mathematical abilities.

They opt for arts-based programs at the university level, convinced they won’t encounter any practical use for mathematics in the real world. However, many of these programs still require students to complete a math course as an elective or prerequisite, making it challenging to evade the subject altogether.

The Teacher’s Role in the Student’s Learning Process

Teachers play several roles, especially when they are inside a classroom. They nurture and educate the learners and look for ways to make learning enjoyable and interactive. Likewise, they are expected to become guardians of their students once they are in school.

Among the many roles they play in students’ lives, the most important is their ability to know them better. They have to understand their needs and identify the proper teaching method. They must comprehend their student’s pace to make learning effective and international.

5 Tips To Encourage Elementary Students To Learn Math

The seeds of aversion toward subjects that are math in nature are sown early on as students struggle to establish a rock-solid foundation. Consequently, this difficulty leads to a lingering resentment toward the subject that can persist throughout their adult lives.

So, what strategies can teachers adopt to make mathematics more captivating? Here are some tips to motivate elementary school students to learn Math and encourage them to develop a genuine fondness for the subject:

1. Help them cultivate the growth mindset

If there are students who detest math, there are others who genuinely delight in the subject and find pleasure in solving problems. Their mindset could be the distinguishing factor. A recent study reaffirms the enduring belief that motivation toward math is closely linked to the growth mindset.

This mindset promotes the idea that students can enhance their intelligence, performance, and abilities through effort and dedication. This principle contrasts with the fixed mindset, which holds that one’s talents are predetermined and set in stone.

According to this theory, people’s mindsets evolve. A recent experiment shows compelling evidence that this is true in the context of mathematics. The study revealed that teaching mathematics using methods that foster a growth mindset boosts student motivation to learn and promotes changes in how their brains approach problem-solving.

2. Introduce guided learning

Giving direct instruction can become monotonous, and managing students while they study independently can be overwhelming. The high-achieving students finish quickly, requiring you to check their work immediately. On the other hand, struggling students may find independent problem-solving challenging, requiring your constant assistance.

One of the best tips to encourage math learning in elementary school is guided learning. Consider altering the structure of your math class by adopting guided math. Begin with a brief mini-lesson to introduce the concept. Afterward, let your students work on different activities while you check with small groups to provide personalized support.

Guided math lets you tailor your teaching methods to meet the unique needs of your students. At a “Meet With Your Teacher” center, you can deliver the day’s lesson at each student’s individual level. Afterward, they can continue practicing the skill at their own pace in the other centers. This approach caters to diverse learning abilities effectively.

3. Make learning interactive

Make learning fun with interactive math lessons for young learners. Think of innovative ways that could excite them as they learn. For example, dedicate a day to review the lessons before the class takes a math test.

You can introduce a fun study method, like solving a mystery box. In this activity, you can place prizes such as pencils, notepads, and erasers inside a toolbox secured with a four-digit number lock.

They receive clues to apply the newly learned math concept and must work with their group members to solve the problems. Each correct answer earns them an envelope containing another clue. The final clue’s solution is a four-digit number they will use to unlock the box and discover their surprise.

4. Play games

Games are another method to cultivate a love for math among your students. Fill your classroom with a plethora of enjoyable math games. You can find numerous free math games online with a simple search.

You can play games as a whole class during reviews. You can also place the games at one of the guided math centers. The students will enjoy playing these games while they review essential math skills.

5. Build their confidence

Students who lack confidence in math often doubt their abilities and avoid participating in class discussions. You can quickly identify them by their behavior. They avoid eye contact, hesitate to explain their problem-solving process, and keep their heads down when asked questions.

It’s crucial for students to feel confident in math. They are not afraid to make mistakes and are more willing to tackle challenging, advanced problems when confident. This, in turn, helps them improve their math skills.

Students might not naturally develop math confidence, but teachers can use specific strategies to build it up. You can improve their confidence by helping them recognize the knowledge they already have and fostering pride in their work and learning efforts.

Here are some strategies for motivating students in mathematics and building their confidence:

  • Praise their effort
  • Listen to them and acknowledge what they tell you
  • Set realistic goals
  • Refrain from telling your students you’re bad at math
  • Challenge them with open-ended problems

Image by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Proper Guidance and Support Can Go a Long Way

Building math confidence can be tricky for students. Those who focus on building math confidence become less afraid of making mistakes. They are also more inclined to take on tougher math problems, which helps improve both their math skills and confidence. What should you do if your student says, “I’m not good at math”? As teachers, it’s essential to help them build math confidence. This confidence helps children see the importance of mistakes, take on challenges, and keep trying even when things get tough. Your support, encouragement, and guidance can help reduce their math aversion.


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