I remember when I taught first grade a few years ago. It was an exciting time; a time when I learned that mathematics anxieties for teachers — whether home, school, or public — are real. These anxieties may stem from many different reasons such as not being a solid math student or being uncertain if you can articulate the concepts to others. If you struggle with teaching math, here are some tips to help you.
Release the pressure
As educators, we are constantly evaluating our performance. If our students or children are not making progress, we assume the fault lies with us. Although evaluation is an important component of lesson review, it should not rule out individual student learning capacities. When teaching math, we must remember that children will learn at their own rate and not all skills will be achieved at the same time as their peers. When we make teaching about ourselves, we undermine our student’s learning.
It’s easy to get caught up in quickly moving through the lessons. In math, slowing down is a great option. If your child is struggling with a concept, don’t keep pushing through it, instead, research different methods until one works for the learner. Often, slowing down is the key ingredient to understanding.
Take into account your child’s learning style
We all have our preferred method of learning. When teaching, consider your child’s preferred learning method. If you have an auditory learner, consider introducing new skills through song. If a song can’t be produced to make the concept easy to understand, take the time to find engaging lectures online. My daughter has shared with me that she prefers a specific online program over other mathematics programs we have used in the past. She appreciates the online teacher’s verbal explanations, and I believe it helps that his voice draws her into lessons. Whichever learning method fits your child, take the time to find those additional resources.
Note: Evan-Moor offers online interactive programs to help your child learn and practice math skills. You can try the math lessons in a free trial.
Take a Break
I mentioned slowing down earlier and allowing your learner to take their time, but you could also consider resetting. How does one reset? Stop what you are doing and take a break. If the anxiety or emotions are high, then chances are the work that is being completed is counterproductive. Studies have shown a direct link between academic performance and student anxiety. During a reset you don’t have to completely quit doing all things math, but you can hone in on the topics where your learner excels. Students need to experience success so they don’t lose their interest or drive.
Math will often leave many of us scratching our heads, but this doesn’t have to control our ability to teach our children. Taking the time to re-evaluate and research different approaches can help you get through most math barriers that may come your way.
Latonya Moore is the creator of Joy in the Ordinary, a site where she focuses on seeking joy in everyday moments. She enjoys spending time with her husband and home educating her daughters.