The impact of elementary school teachers on their pupils is immense. Children at the age of 6-8 are most susceptible to learning new things, however, it does not mean that they can easily learn advanced, abstract concepts.
Teaching methods have to be adjusted to the developmental level of kids and present math concepts as fun and intuitive. All elementary school teachers should consider using the following teaching strategies in the classroom:
Allow children to use their own words
In the old, traditional way of teaching math the communication has usually been one way: teachers explained math concepts to students and children were allowed to talk only when they were asked a question. A lot has changed since then, but many teachers still do not realize how important is the engagement of kids in the process of explaining math problems.
Children think differently than adults and they are often able to come up with explanations, which are very creative and use simple language, understandable for other children in the classroom. Therefore, students can provide useful explanations for those children, who struggle with understanding math.
Teachers are advised to encourage students to put their thoughts into words and explain the procedure of solving math problems step by step. This method has one more advantage: it allows students to rethink their own steps and consciously analyze the procedure of solving math problems.
Visuals alone are not enough
Most math teachers use visuals to illustrate math concepts, but studies show that this is not enough. Every image used in the process of teaching should be accompanied by teacher’s guidance and it should lead to practicing the concepts presented with those visuals. Moreover, many educators believe that there are even better ways of using visuals during math classes.
Singapore math, a method of teaching math based on Singaporean practices, stipulates that visual representations should be used in the second stage of explaining math. Teaching should start from working with manipulatives and other concrete objects, which help students understand math concepts more thoroughly.
Although in order to teach Singapore math you should participate in Singapore math teaching programs, as the method is very precise and requires special knowledge, there is something that every math teacher can take from this method and use in their own practice. Visuals are important, but so are concrete objects and manipulatives. To best use them, make sure that every child in the classroom has an access to a set of manipulatives.
Say yes to technology
Technological inventions, such as tablets and e-readers, can play a major role in the learning process. First of all, children who use these tools can easily download and keep all visuals and other materials, which are used in the classroom to explain math problems.
They can also play in simple math games, which are much more fun and engaging than typical math drills and can bring the same, if not better results. Finally, computer devices can be also used to revisit previously covered topics and revise the methods of solving math problems.
Marta Gromadzka is a writer and editor with a wide variety of experience, including writing for websites internationally and editing books on many different subjects and in a variety of formats.