Improving math skills and building student confidence

There are many reasons why learning maths in school is important. In this modern world, technology is advancing rapidly and basic math and science principles have become fundamental parts of our daily life. Despite what kids think, there will be many instances where the math principles that they learn at school will benefit them in adult life. 

In this article, we will look at the importance of learning mathematics in school and how children can use these skills in their daily lives - especially in this ever-advancing modern world.

Building mathematical foundations

Math teachers have always put tremendous effort and resources into getting children to have instant recall of their mathematical tables. Being fluent in calculation and knowing mathematical tables by heart can provide a child with an ‘educational advantage’.

Knowing the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables supports mathematical learning and understanding. Children who have a strong grasp of these basic principles tend to be more self-assured when learning new concepts. 

In a perfect world, every pupil would start secondary school with a fluent, accessible and automatic knowledge of the 144 multiplication facts (12 x 12). Once children are confident in the use of their multiplication facts, they can begin to apply this knowledge to calculate a variety of sums.  As an example, knowing that 3 x 3 = 9 will help children understand that 30 x 30 = 900, and 300 x 300 = 9000.

Mathematics ‘on-demand’ is not easy and for many children, this instant and accurate recall can be stressful. Not knowing their math facts doesn’t mean they aren’t good at math but it can lead to reduced self-confidence in a child and feelings of anxiety.  

How to build math confidence

The ability to rehearse and understand math facts up to and including the 12 times table by the final year of primary school will enable your child to confidently and skillfully tackle the more complex areas of mathematics. Encouraging your child to practice their maths skills through constant revision will help them feel more confident with the teachings presented to them as they progress through their education.

The best way to practice mathematical skills is to make them relative in daily life. Look for opportunities to practice the newfound mathematical skills and knowledge when problem-solving while shopping or cooking. For example, ask your child how much will 2 dozen bread rolls cost if 6 rolls cost $1, or ask them to double or halve the ingredients of a recipe. 

As your child becomes more proficient and confident at recalling mathematical principles, they will be able to solve more complex mathematical problems in much less time. This is because the core understanding has already been established. They will exercise this skill like second nature, enabling them to focus on the more difficult aspects of the problem.

Coping with learning gaps

It is important to develop and practice maths at foundation levels to ensure that the child grasps the basic concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. If a child struggles with foundational maths concepts in their early years, this may lead to them feeling like they have a gap in their numeracy skills and knowledge.  Often these gaps cause problems because mathematics is a cumulative subject – it builds on prior knowledge year after year.  The gaps make it difficult for the child to grasp new concepts and they become disillusioned with the subject. This may present as an unmotivated learner and subsequently develop math anxiety.  

Symptoms of math anxiety can include:

  • Avoidance
  • Lack of response
  • Low achievement
  • Negative self-talk
  • A feeling of inertia (staying in the same place for a length of time)
  • Intense emotional reactions to math problems
  • A disinterested, lethargic attitude
  • Physiological effects like nervousness, clammy hands, increased heart rate, upset stomach and lightheadedness

A child who struggles with math in primary or secondary school may opt not to choose the subject in higher grades, this can be detrimental as it may limit the child’s career choices and potential career pathways.

Make learning maths more meaningful

At CambriLearn, we believe that children learn better when they are actively engaged in the subject matter. Optimal knowledge retention occurs when a child is learning through doing. Try to create activities to make the learning process more meaningful and engaging. This can include fun STEM-related games and activities or practical examples in daily life.  

Practice makes perfect

The importance of grasping basic mathematical principles and foundations in school cannot be stressed enough. A child who is confident in math concepts in primary and secondary school will go on to be more confident in maths in high school. If your child is struggling with basic foundational concepts or if you want to ensure that they build their math confidence and fall in love with the wonderful world of numbers, then we recommend booking them a few one-on-one extra maths lessons with one of our subject specialist tutors. 

In these sessions, they will be able to discuss their personal development areas and practice their math skills through practical examples and activities. They will also get access to interactive learning content and assessments

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