29 Jun How to Help Primary School Students Enjoy Math?
Math is a subject that many students face difficulty in. They may initially understand a math concept but fail to grasp it when it is presented in a different perspective. This may be discouraging at first but with great time, effort and focus students can learn to master math concepts and use it for different applications.
Math questions can be interpreted differently by students, although the final answer can only be right or wrong. There is no room for error when it comes to math, and it can be a little daunting to know that there are only one or two plausible workarounds that lead to the correct answer.
In this article, we will be exploring some of the factors that influence primary school students’ difficulty with primary math and some ways to engage them with the subject.
Some Reasons Why Primary Students Find Math Difficult
1. Short Attention Span
Math comprises several steps that students must follow to achieve the final answers. The subject requires them to be focused and fully understand the objectives of the question before working on it. When students find it hard to comprehend the solution to complex questions for a long period of time, they tend to lose focus. After a while, they lose sight of the complete picture and have trouble solving similar questions on their own.
2. Unclear Understanding of Basic Concepts
Learning math is an ongoing process. Students need to build a solid foundation of basic concepts before they can progress to more advanced concepts. If they do not understand the previous concepts, they may struggle along the way. In most cases, this occurs when students do not ask questions in class when in doubt. As a result, some students may end up memorizing the solution instead of fully understanding it.
3. Lack of Practice
Learning a math concept requires a great deal of practice. It is common for students to understand math concepts, but have difficulty applying it in practice. Understanding math and practising it go hand in hand. Without practice, students may struggle to solve questions and eventually grow to dislike math.
How Can We Make Primary School Math Interesting?
1. Encourage the Right Mindset
Primary school math acts as the start to primary students’ math learning journey, where teachers and parents play a role in helping them cultivate the right mindset. Many students often assume that because they are poor at the subject, they are incapable of solving most questions.
You can, however, encourage your child or student by changing their mindset. When your child or student solves a question, be encouraging towards their learning and allow them to appreciate their accomplishments. The right mindset and encouragement can eventually help them overcome that mental barrier and become more positive when doing math.
2. Use Visuals instead of Numbers
As the subject involves a lot of numbers, it can get a little too tedious at times. Consider replacing numbers with different visuals such as pictures, drawings, or symbols. For instance, if the question is about fractions, you can draw a rectangle model then divide and shade the smaller divided parts. You can also make use of real-life objects around you for better visualisation. Find creative ways to teach less interesting topics, such as geometry and statistics.
Once students are exposed to different representations, they can recognise the relationship between concepts which then allows them to truly understand the subject. There is nothing more interesting than when students come up with creative ways to visualise their explanation.
3. Provide More Exposure to Different Strategies
When students expose themselves to more strategies, they will develop a better conceptual understanding of the subject. It is highly possible to solve a problem in more than one way since the different math concepts are linked. When practicing, you can let your child or student know that there are several strategies for solving a problem. Allow them to figure it out themselves, alternatively, you can give some hints along the way. This way, they will be motivated to think out of the box while tying the concepts together. Additionally, this gives them better confidence when taking examinations for math in primary school as they have already been exposed to different strategies.
4. Real Applications
Primary math for students can be interesting if you relate the concepts to real-life applications. Students may lose interest if you teach with numbers and visuals simply because they do not find it relatable. They may find it irrelevant and become disinterested in learning math in primary school.
Instead, you can demonstrate or show examples of how concepts can be applied to the real world when possible. Consider taking some time during class or at home showing how math can be used outside of the classroom. Otherwise, try to relate the math concept to your child’s or student’s own experience. When they realise that math can be so relatable, they will be more eager to learn.
5. Play Games to Review Concepts
Getting students excited about learning is easy with fun games! There are many online games that are free for you to play, such as Kahoot and Bamboozle. These games allow users to create their own quiz and test their knowledge. Another way is, for example, if the topic your child or student is learning is division, ask them to guess the maximum number of apples each person in a group of eight will receive if there are eight apples. Let them write down their answers on a piece of paper, and you can review with them afterwards.
Playing simple games can be extremely effective in helping students to review their concepts. Even if they get the answers wrong during the game, it would be a memorable experience and they would listen to your explanations attentively. You can schedule the game at the end of the class or before to get the students pumped up and motivated!
The Science Academy Approach
Math in primary school has evolved beyond simple numbers and problem-solving. It involves more critical thinking to train younger students for their future education. Primary math involves creative strategies and a continuous process to understand the subject.
The Science Academy (TSA) is committed to helping students find joy in doing math. At TSA, we always encourage students to think outside the box and to stimulate their minds so they can explore different approaches to problem-solving. TSA aims to help students to enjoy math by bridging the gaps in their misconceptions and help them build a strong foundation.