5 Different Approaches to Teaching Math

It seems there are as many different ways of teaching math as there are teachers. Here are just a few of the different approaches you will encounter.

Some people think they’re “math people”, and others think they’re hopeless. Truth is, people who don’t get on with math have just had the wrong tutor. Or they’ve picked up math anxiety from someone else.

One way to solve the problem is to start with ‘intelligence’. That’s not an IQ score – it’s the way a person processes information.

Howard Gardner developed his multiple intelligences theory to explain why some people are great at running and others are good at music.

Another way to try teaching math is to find different approaches or methods. This article collects five that you might want to try with your children.

Read on to learn more about these approaches.

1. Practical Math

One of the complaints people can have about math is that it doesn’t always relate to real life. 

So if you want your child to learn math fast, try doing arts or crafts that need math. It’s a great way to understand the concepts that underpin the math.

Knitting is a good example. They need to count stitches and understand how a basic pattern works.

For older children, try substituting yarns. This can impact on the size of the finished piece. So you’ll need to use algebra to change the type of yarn from the one used by the pattern.

2. Use Visuals

Math can be difficult to learn when it’s entirely in your head. Adding visuals gives the brain something to relate to. That uses different neural pathways and makes math easier to understand.

Flashcards or images that represent numbers make it easier for visual learners to grasp math concepts. It also makes it easier to teach young children if they’re counting things they can actually see.

3. Kumon Math

This approach puts the focus on arithmetic. Devised in 1958, it’s a Japanese method of learning calculation skills and algebra.

Kumon math relies on repetition, rote learning, and memorizing formulae. Students learn one topic at a time until they’ve mastered it.

The program uses a combination of paper worksheets and study sessions at an accredited Kumon center.

4. Thinkster Math

This is a program that puts the emphasis on learning math skills, not just arithmetic. This approach focuses on math concepts, particularly logic problems.

Students also learn about geometry, units of measurement, and data handling. Thinkster Math takes away the need to memorize anything. This helps to reduce math anxiety.

If you’re looking for a comparison between Kumon Math and Thinkster Math, read this review.

5. Use Gamification

Gamification is a hot topic in education now and it just means turning a process into a game.

One way to do this is to turn your child’s math homework into a game with a series of ‘levels’. Reward them for passing a ‘level’ the way a video game would.

Another way to do it is to turn the math exercise into a form of play. Running a grocery store in your kitchen, ‘selling’ the goods in your cupboards, helps them learn how money works.

By taking away the sting of testing, your child is less likely to develop math anxiety. Instead, math becomes something fun they can do and understand.

Teaching Math

Now you have different ways to try teaching math to your child. If one method doesn’t suit them, try another one. 

Whichever method you try, make sure you focus on math being fun. You don’t want them to develop a fear of using numbers.

Why not check out our parenting articles for more advice on teaching your child?

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