Parenting

Boost Confidence of Students in Math with these 10 Activities

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1. Introduction
2. Why is Self-confidence Important?
3. Why Do Children Struggle with Math Confidence?
4. 10 Strategies That The Best Math Teachers Use To Build Children's Confidence In Mathematics
5. Conclusion
6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
7. External References

6 November 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Introduction

When french mathematician Laurent Schwartz was in High school, he started to worry that he wasn’t smart enough to solve math problems. Still, he went on to win Fields Medal, the highest award in mathematics.

Some students have a similar feeling. They sit down to take math tests and feel their heart beating faster and butterflies in their stomach. It may be happening with your students too.

There are many reasons why a child may struggle with his/her self confidence. It happens more often in subjects like mathematics which are generally considered to be brainy and tough.

Do you feel that you need to try something different to make them feel confident?

After reading this article, you will be equipped with some practical activities and tips that you can implement in your next class to build up the confidence of your students.


Why is Self-confidence Important?

In today’s world, there is no place for those who lack self-confidence. Self-confident people can judge their position in any environment, be it their schools, workplaces, or the community where they live.

They use confidence as a ladder to improve their position and excel in whatever they do.

People can grow and succeed only if they live in a positive atmosphere where they receive constructive feedback.

self confident child

Credits - UNSW Sydney

However, if people live in a demotivating environment where they are constantly compared to others, never rewarded for their efforts, and seldom encouraged to do something outstanding, their self-confidence is hampered. 

Such people start underestimating themselves, and they develop an unhealthy mentality, thereby resorting to unfair means for achieving success.

Children are our future, so it is imperative to educate them well and guide them on the right path.

  • Every child must be helped to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Children should be taught to speak confidently and with dignity.
  • Children should learn to be honest with themselves and others.
  • Children need to develop a positive outlook on life.
  • It is essential to make them believe that they can improvise themselves in order to achieve the things they want, faster and easier, thereby enjoying life.

Why Do Children Struggle with Math Confidence?

Struggling with Math can affect a child’s overall self-esteem and social life. Math anxiety causes poor Math performance and also evokes Math anxiety.

Without a strong mathematical foundation, students experience Math failures and it embarrasses them.

It has been observed that generally, students develop a negative attitude towards Math from their family members or peers who have fear of Math.

Students may also dislike the subject if they have insensitive Math teachers. If children find an answer to their ‘why’ and ‘how’ related to various mathematical concepts, they develop a proper conceptual understanding of the subject.

Developing a mathematical mindset is critical for every child. Solving any real-life problems requires an analytical and mathematical mindset which in turn will set up a child for lifelong success.

Boost Confidence of Students in Math with these 10 Activities - PDF

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10 Strategies That The Best Math Teachers Use To Build Children's Confidence In Mathematics

Try New approaches to teach

First and foremost, there is a need to help the children think mathematically so that they develop a love for Math.

Every Math teacher should try to incorporate various approaches that bring Math to life. For example, drama and role-play, music, songs, and dance which includes some relation to Math.

Make them believe that they can do Math

We should realize that there is nothing called ‘Math gene’. We should make every child believe that each one of them has math potential and it is through hard work and practice that every child can be great at Math. 

Teachers and parents should build such confidence in children that they can always say, “If I do not know, let me find out.” It is essential to identify children’s individual strengths and build on them so that children believe in themselves.

Give enough time and thought to each topic

Math teachers should provide enough time and space to their students for developing self-confidence and mathematical thinking. 

Children need to be provided time to understand any concept thoroughly to easily apply the knowledge gained to a wide variety of topics.

Sufficient time should be provided for mathematical discussions to take place which would enable the children to discuss and portray what they know, what they do not know, and how they can improvise themselves.

Play Math games

Playing mathematical games inspires mathematical thinking, improves student’s reasoning ability, provides a better understanding of concepts as children find different solutions to various complex problems.

If mathematical games are included in Math classes, math learning becomes more fun-filled, motivating, and engaging. Students can be asked to create their own Math games or modify the rules of an existing game.

For example, a modification in the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ game with a mathematical twist could be like this –

  • Spread out the Snakes and Ladders mat on the floor.
  • A child picks up a numbered chit and gets a puzzle card.
  • If the child solves the puzzle correctly, the child moves to the number mentioned in the chit picked up.
  • The child picks up a new number and gets a second puzzle. As the child moves on the mat, he climbs up ladders or slips down if he encounters a snake. When the child fails to solve a given puzzle, the next child starts his game. This is how the game proceeds.

Activites for self-confidence : school students playing snake ladder


Visual aids for Teaching

A good Math teacher makes Math topics visual as it fuels the students’ desire to investigate Math topics and provides opportunities to acquire a positive Math outlook.

By displaying mathematical aids in the classroom and by engaging the students in creative hands-on activities, teachers get their students excited about Math.

Students can build physical models to express their understanding of mathematical concepts in a better way.

Every Math teacher should celebrate their students’ work by displaying their creative work in the classroom or by displaying photographs of children actively involved in Math learning. 

These are a few excellent ways of changing the attitude of students who have lost interest in Math due to its abstract nature.

Relate Math to everyday activities

Maths teachers can boost the self-confidence of the students by helping them to tackle complex aspects of Mathematics more simply through everyday activities.

For example, children can be asked to cut a pizza into four equal parts and acquaint the children with the fact that they have shown skills in fractions. Their knowledge can be extended further, by asking them to cut the pizza into eight parts.

Teachers can take various examples of day to day activities and make their students understand how Math learning happens naturally – like walking to a shop (dealing with the calculation of time and distance) and purchasing from that shop (dealing with the calculation of money).

Students calculating money while shopping

Credits - Mathnasium

Acknowledge students’ efforts and be open-minded

Another meaningful way of building confidence in Math among children is by acknowledging their works positively and genuinely listening to their answers, without saying ‘Incorrect Answer’ every time.

Some mathematical problems can have multiple solutions or may have different ways of solving them. Math teachers should always value different ways of thinking and accept all correct answers if the students provide the right justification.

Math teachers should make the students understand that it is alright to make mistakes, but they should learn how to correct those mistakes and use them in the next step of learning.

Teachers should provide a safe and supportive environment to allow the students to discuss their ideas freely and have healthy debates about the topic.

Provide Regular Feedback to Students

Providing feedback on time plays a significant role in building self-confidence and has a developmental impact on Math learning.

Children should be taught what is right or wrong constantly as this would help them to identify their mistakes and misconceptions and they would learn to rectify their mistakes and plan for better learning.

Monitor students’ progress

Math teachers should have students set their own Math goals. These goals will help students understand their progress in their Math learning. 

Teachers should monitor their progress periodically and assist the students to take appropriate measures to reach their target.

Teachers should celebrate their student’s achievement of goals and make them proud of the hard work that has helped them to accomplish their goals.

The next goal should be set immediately for further Math learning.

Organize a Maths week

Celebrating Maths week is an excellent way of exploring and learning Mathematics beyond the boundaries of a classroom.

maths week celeration at school

A range of different activities can be designed for engaging all the students in Math learning like – Math puzzles or riddles designed by students to enhance their mental ability, brain games like Sudoku that helps to stimulate their cognitive abilities, merging math with poetry, musical rap based on Mathematics, street play to show the importance of Mathematics in day to day life. 

Some renowned person who is an expert in Mathematics can be invited to talk about Mathematicians, their discoveries, etc. Organizing treasure hunt competitions and math quizzes are fantastic ways of engaging students.

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Conclusion

You should understand that success in Mathematics breeds confidence and confidence in Mathematics breeds success. Like any other skill, self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered.

Once we master it with the right guidance and support from the right people, everything in our life will change for the better.

 
Important notes to remember
 
One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation - Arthur Ashe
 

You can try the suggestions and activities that are mentioned above. Your students will appreciate this and you will be surprised how easy it is to engage students and make math exciting.

If you have any math activities or teaching tips to share, you can write to them on Twitter


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to make students confident in Math?

  • Relate math concepts to applications
  • Make your class fun and exciting with different activities
  • Encourage students to ask questions
  • Provide regular feedback to students and their parents
  • Use visual aids and practical examples for teaching concepts

2. What is Maths Week?

Maths week is celebrated at different times in different countries. It is a celebration of the importance of mathematics in our everyday lives. During this week, various math-related fun activities are organised for students.


External References


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