Mathematics is the most popular tutoring subject in the US. Therefore, turned on our course, we pestered the experts and GCSE Math Tutor and asked for specific tips. The result is two times six tips for which you do not need your own math knowledge. Because the most important levers when it comes to children and arithmetic are a healthy dose of self-confidence paired with a positive attitude.
12 tips on how children (not only in elementary school) learn to calculate better
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Tip 1: Encourage your child to do math with a positive attitude
Math is difficult, completely boring and, if at all, only for boys – in Germany this attitude is usually the order of the day. One of the most important steps towards having fun with math and getting good grades is therefore a positive attitude in the whole family. Parents can use simple means to bring the fascination of math to life: for example with films.
In general: Show your child the creative facets of mathematics, for example by drawing geometric shapes together and explaining them. Or learning arithmetic in elementary school, like multiplication tables, is much more exciting in a sung version, for example with the help of. In this way, you encourage your child to learn math almost automatically, as they experience that math is not just a “subject to learn”, but can also offer a great deal of variety.
Extra tip: Especially if you are rather at war with math yourself, discover the subject together with your child and avoid statements like “I have always hated math”.
Tip 2: Create motivation for math through books and everyday math
Children learn best when they are interested in something and WANT to discover it for themselves. So why not try to encourage your child to do arithmetic by encountering mathematics in a natural and lively way in everyday life.
Math is in baking (how much is 1/8 liter of water), in shopping (how much change do I get), in football (estimating the angle before the shot on goal), in being a YouTube star (how much do I earn per click) or also in interactive exhibitions like three is math to touch. And in the books or radio plays, children absolutely WANT to solve arithmetic puzzles – perhaps with the help of the whole family.
Tip 3: Combine arithmetic with movement
Children like to move! So why not combine counting, multiplying, adding, subtracting or dividing while walking, running or climbing stairs? For example: Add 3 at each step. It is important to mix the types of calculation. So after 5 minutes subtract/divide 4 at each step. Or more challenging: toss a ball back and forth and ask the children arithmetic when throwing it. When catching, the result must be called out loud.
Tip 4: Give children a sense of achievement in arithmetic
Demotivated students and bad grades are often the product of the vicious circle, “Misunderstanding/bad grades = failure -> little self-confidence/demotivation -> insecurity/fear -> bad grades -…”
You can easily break this circle by creating a sense of achievement. It starts with making tangible what role mathematics plays in everyday life and in the world. Rewards can also motivate, but they don’t necessarily have to be material rewards: Virtual learning games and apps offer their own reward systems, such as exciting stories or unlockable clothing for self-created avatars.
It is also helpful to show the child what they can already do and have achieved.
Tip 5: Take away your fear of grades
Once the vicious circle has been broken, the motivation and security in terms of mathematics comes almost automatically
Fear of math is often directly related to the negative experience of “bad grades”. Then the vicious circle described above arises and the pressure increases. Parents should therefore not scold children if they get bad grades. Better: In a discussion with the teacher, analyze the child’s competencies and deficits in detail and then specifically support the child in math. Here, too, it is important to create a sense of achievement and to show the child what they are already great at.
Tip 6: Research into causes as a starting point for targeted support in math
Especially in the school context, you can support your child in the first step if you (ideally together with your child and the class teacher) analyze what exactly your child is lacking in arithmetic. Because the causes of demotivated students and bad grades can be very diverse and do not necessarily have to be due to deficits in the subject itself (possible problems with the teacher, trouble with classmates, general school stress, etc.)
If the math itself is really the weak point, sustainable math promotion starts with the strengths and weaknesses and trains both. A sense of achievement is created through strengths, so that a sense of competence is achieved. Then it also works with the unloved material, which is trained with strengthened self-confidence.
Tip 7: Extra tip for arithmetic weaknesses
Children learn the basics of arithmetic in elementary school. According to the math didactics experts Ladel and Plüskow, “breaking down numbers” is one of the essential foundations for success in the higher levels. The advanced math curriculum builds on these fundamentals, so an understanding of these fundamental mechanisms is essential.
For some children, however, numbers appear only as symbols and not as usable units of measurement. The reason for this is in no case a low IQ, but a (temporary) partial performance weakness, popularly also often called “dyscalculia”. This developmental disorder makes it difficult for sufferers to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Anyone who suspects that their child is developing arithmetic weaknesses should act immediately. And in no case treat the child as incurable. Rather, it is important to approach the teacher openly if you have serious problems understanding arithmetic. Early diagnosis and individual learning support (in the form of a special school teacher) and extracurricular support (e.g. the school psychological service) can (temporary) partial performance weaknesses.