This is an older post I published last year. The elementary math tips are timeless, fun, and hard to beat!
Elementary math isn’t always the easiest subject to teach, but it’s tons of fun. You can discuss fractions while making cookies and counting ducks at the pond.
10 Tips for Teaching Elementary Math
1. Find a curriculum and stick with it
There’s always going to be a shiny new curriculum coming onto the market. A program everyone raves about solving every math problem under the sun and even washing your dishes. Sorry, no program will solve every math problem under the sun, and I’m still waiting for my math program to wash my dinner dishes. Jumping math programs slows kids down because each math program has a different schedule for teaching concepts. Avoid switching programs unless you have no choice.
2. Do change programs if they’re not learning or tears appear regularly
While there’s much to be said for sticking with your math curriculum, change if it’s not working! If you’re dealing with children in tears on a daily or weekly basis, it’s time to consider changing. If you spend months or years covering the same basic topic again and again with no understanding, try a different approach.
3. Hang a calendar on the fridge
I tape this month’s and next month’s calendars to the fridge. Even my 5 year old knows to check the calendar for upcoming events. It’s amazing how quickly the kids learn to read a calendar when they’re counting down the days until Christmas or Easter.
4. Read books on teaching math
Remember to invest in teacher training as well as wonderful curriculum for the children. It’s important to keep your own understanding of math and teaching techniques growing. You also demonstrate an interest in math to your children and you know kids. Monkey see, monkey do!
5. Keep manipulatives around to demonstrate concepts
Young kids need manipulatives or Lego games to help them understand concepts. Talking abstractly about fractions doesn’t make much sense to a 6 year old. Chatting about dividing a pizza between her and her siblings does. Manipulatives bridge the divide between abstract and tangible.
6. Drill math facts through games
Don’t just sit down and drill math with flash cards, have fun and use games. You can play Uno Card Game or Yahtzee. Use computer programs such as The Quarter Mile Math. They make a fun change from worksheets and drill.
7. Drill math facts while dribbling or playing
Get your kids outside and moving around. For some reason math facts stick in the mind better when kids are moving. Hopscotch while drilling. Jump rope and chant math facts. Dribble a basketball and chant. Get moving, drill facts, and enjoy some time together.
8. Encourage puzzle books such as Usborne’s puzzles
I love puzzle books such as Usborne’s Puzzle World Books. Puzzles encourage children to think out of the box and apply what they’ve learned. They’re an easy way to challenge children without adding on yet another math program.
9. Don’t be in a rush
Children progress at different rates. Don’t be in a rush to reach algebra before the children reach their preteen years, and don’t be in a rush to get multiplication facts memorized overnight. Give your children and yourself time… time to learn, time to play, and time to grow.
10. Have fun
Elementary math is a blast to teach to young children. You can order pizzas to discuss fractions, make cookies and teach counting or multiplication, or tell stories about teddy bears going to the park.
If you only take one tip away from these top ten tips for teaching elementary math, let it be this one. Have fun and enjoy the time with your children.
What is your best tip for teaching elementary math?