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Effective Strategies for Teaching Math to Young Students

By Jim Wheelin Subscribe to RSS | December 6th 2011 | Views:

Whether you’re a teacher, tutor or parent, knowing how to teach math is a fundamental part of the curriculum. The traditional classroom has focused on teacher-led discussions that are delivered to the classroom as a whole. Although this one style of teaching is the fastest, most direct way to reach the goals of the curriculum, it doesn’t address the individual needs of the students. The end result is a snowball effect, where students who don’t understand one concept, go on to struggle in subsequent lessons. 

With more focus on the individual ways that children learn, teachers, tutors and parents are better able to recognize the signs that a child is in need of additional instruction. Instead of viewing these children as slower learners, teachers now understand that a different approach toward the material is all that is needed. When teaching math to young children, it’s important that you are familiar with the various ways to expand on the concepts being learned in class.

Incorporate Specific Examples

Since the initial material will be taught in school, it’s important to present the math concepts in a fun way where they make sense. Use real-world examples that are tangible to kids such as counting all the yellow school buses on the way to school. Since many kids are visual learners, accompany word problems with items that children can see and count. The lessons will vary depending on the age of the students, but ultimately, you want to make sure that the material you present has some value.

Don’t think that just offering concrete examples will be enough to grasp the lesson. When hitting a roadblock, instructors often assume that students will understand the material better next year and move on to the next lesson. Make sure that your child understands the how and the why of the math problem, and be aware that not all children will recognize them in the same order. Some students understand the concept before the procedure; others learn the opposite way.

Identify Your Goals 

All teachers have a curriculum to follow, and this curriculum leads the direction for tutors and parents. Instead of becoming consumed in the details of the program, focus on your own goals. Think about what you want your students to master at the end of each lesson and why it’s important. Your goals may focus on passing the tests or dividing even numbers. By establishing these goals ahead of time, you will have something to work toward before delving into the next chapter.

A final way for effectively teaching math to young children is to leverage your tools. Kids often have a passion for science early on because of all the fun tools they get to use such as microscopes and magnifying glasses. Introduce the same fun learning tools in your own classroom or study session that will keep kids engaged. Young children love abacuses, measuring cups and algebra tiles for example.

Using Adaptive Learning Programs

Newer to the classroom are online games and puzzles that follow suit with adaptive learning. These puzzles and games are more than just for fun; they’re built around each individual student and encourage the understanding of math concepts in new, interesting ways. These learning tools can be implemented into any classroom or home setting, and they exercise the same concept in a variety of ways until the student is completely comfortable in the how and the why of the problem. 

By using these approaches toward teaching math and integrating the proper tools when necessary, teaching the subject will be a rewarding experience for both you and the child.

Jim Wheelin - About Author:
Jim Wheelin writes about many different educational topics for parents and teachers. He is always keeping an eye out for the latest teaching techniques and tools, as well as sharing tips on teaching math to young children. Jim also likes to read about interactive educational resources such as

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