A 2009 estimate revealed that 17 percent of the US’ entire population has math anxiety. Although math can be a difficult subject, it’s clear that most students who don’t perform well simply lack confidence.
So if you’re a 4th grade math tutor, the big challenge is how to help your students get over their anxiety and focus on learning without fear. In this article, you’ll learn different strategies to help students improve their math confidence.
Why Students Lack Math Confidence
Before looking at the strategies that can help students boost their confidence, let’s find out why they lack math confidence in the first place. This will help tutors understand why students are having trouble with math:
- Difficulty Understanding the Lesson: Have you ever tried to learn something but you just can’t crack it so you’re left frustrated? If a student is having trouble understanding the concepts being taught, they may become frustrated. When this pattern continues it may cause them to lose confidence in their abilities.
- Negative past experiences: When a student has had negative experiences with math in the past they may have developed a belief that they are not capable of doing well in the subject. These negative experiences could be receiving poor grades or being told they are not good at math. Since you’re dealing with kids in the 4th grade, you need to understand that their confidence is extremely fragile. One bad comment or poor result can affect their confidence immensely.
- Lack of practice: If a student does not get enough opportunities to practice and apply the math skills they are learning, they may struggle to retain the information. This could make them less confident in their abilities.
- Confusing teaching method: If the teaching method is confusing, students may not be able to follow the teacher. This happens frequently when the math tutor is inexperienced or isn’t qualified to teach 4th-grade students. When the students don’t understand how the teacher solves math problems or explains math concepts, they might get frustrated and lose confidence in their abilities.
Boosting 4th Grade Math Confidence
Now that we know why students lose math confidence, let’s find out which effective math strategy can help them gain confidence:
- Set clear and achievable goals: As a tutor, you should be able to help your students set specific and measurable goals that they can work towards. This will give them a sense of accomplishment as they progress.
These goals don’t have to be huge. It can be something as easy as “I want to improve my Factorisation test score by 20% next month.” You can also help them break down large goals into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if their goal is to improve their multiplication facts, they can break it down into practicing a certain number of facts per day.
- Use hands-on activities and real-world examples: Math lessons are far more effective when you use real-world examples to help students understand mathematical concepts. This will make the lesson more engaging and relatable for them. For example, when teaching measurement, use examples of measuring the length of a room or the weight of an object.
You can also use real-world scenarios to teach mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For example, students can practice addition by calculating a restaurant bill or practice subtraction by figuring out how much change they will receive from a purchase.
- Provide positive reinforcement: Praise the student for their efforts and progress, even if they make mistakes. This will help build their confidence and motivate them to continue trying. When you praise kids regularly, you’re helping them improve their self-worth. This will help boost their math confidence. Also, knowing they get praise for their efforts will make them want to work even harder to please you.
- Break down complex problems: Another strategy to help students improve their math confidence is to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts. This will make it easier for the student to understand and solve the problem.
- Use a variety of teaching techniques: You should also try to use different teaching techniques and see how students react to them. This includes using visual aids, games, and group work to keep the student engaged and interested. For example, it’s been proven that kids are more engaged when learning with visual aids.
Also, they’re more likely to learn math concepts faster when you introduce them to game-based learning. These techniques can go a long way to help you improve your student’s math skills and math confidence.
- Make it interactive: When you make your lessons more interactive, you can easily detect if the student is on the same page as you. Encourage them to ask questions and participate in class.
You should also ask them questions to see how well they understand the lesson. If you’re working with a group of kids, encourage them to engage in group work and collaboration. Working in small groups or pairs can help children learn from one another. This will help them feel more comfortable and confident in their abilities.
- Encourage practice and repetition: They might not always get it the first time, but continuous practice will help them get better. Hence, you should encourage your students to practice and repeat math concepts.
Give them homework frequently so they’ll have a lot of opportunities to practice. They might not like it, but you’re doing the right thing. Frequent practice will help them solidify their understanding and improve their skills. This will help them to improve their math confidence.
- Encourage self-directed learning: According to the National Home Education Research Institute, about 7 percent of American kids learn from home. Apart from the safety concerns, more parents are opting to homeschool their kids because of the educational freedom it affords them.
Homeschooling statistics have shown that kids who are homeschooled kids are more confident in their abilities. This is mostly due to the amount of work they do on their own. When students take responsibility for their own learning, they get more opportunities to explore and discover new concepts on their own. This will help to boost confidence in their abilities.
- Remind them of their past success: Sometimes, all it takes for a student to lose their confidence is one bad test score. But like they often say in sports “form is temporary, class is permanent.” A student doesn’t suddenly become poor in math because they didn’t perform well in one test.
Hence, tutors do their best to highlight the student’s past success and remind them of their own capability of learning. Students need to become aware of their abilities. This will help reinforce their resolve during rough patches.
- Celebrate their progress: It’s okay to celebrate your students when they answer a question correctly or learn a concept. Celebrating the student’s progress and achievements, no matter how small, can help boost their confidence.
This strategy is highly effective since most kids are familiar with this type of reward system. Many kids regularly play video games where they earn rewards for every progress they make. So if you’re looking for math teaching strategies that kids will respond to quickly, this one is top of the list.
The 4th grade is when students start to learn advanced math concepts. This class will be more challenging than other classes they’ve been to so it’s important to help them build math confidence quickly. With the maths teaching techniques above, you should be able to help your students to become more confident in their math skills.