Top Strategies used by Math Teachers to build confidence in students


30 December 2020

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Is Math hard? 

Mathematics is often associated to phobia, anxiety, and fear among students and a significant percentage feel jittery before appearing for the exam. All these terms are reflective of the ‘state of mind’ rather than the complexity associated to the subject, and is also an indicative of the source of the problem.

Confidence in math is rare and that creates immense negative effects on students’ learning potential. It is important to understand that just as the reasons for ‘math anxiety’ are numerous, so are the means to address them.

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Top Strategies used by math teachers to build confidence in students

  1. Make the kids feel loved

The key prerequisite to instill confidence in children is to make them feel loved and accepted in spite of the mistakes they make. It is imperative for a teacher to develop a strong bond with children so as to establish complete trust.

This opens up the children and they feel free to ask queries and better leverage the intellectual capacities of the teacher.

It is a pressing need for teachers to understand not just their subject, but the psychology of children that holds back their expression and realization of their true potential. It is important to state any anxiety or apprehensions, whatsoever. Also, the teachers are the ambassadors of their subject and they must exhibit the importance, relevance and love for the subject.

teacher happily teaching kids

  1. Making small milestones for children

Children must have a positive and realistic perception of their abilities. Sometimes they get dissuaded to make efforts when they compare their performance with others. They must compete with themselves and break their own records.

Great teachers make this possible by setting small milestones for children that strengthens their basic skills and applauding their small feats. Teachers should not hold back their praise for big achievements. Encouragement by teachers on a child’s performance or even efforts goes a long way in instilling will and confidence in them.

teacher teaching English alphabets to kids

  1. Making mistakes is OKAY

It is a known fact that learning comes through experience, and mistakes add to that experience. Mistakes are inevitable while tackling a subject as vast and complicated as Math. Instead of scolding your students for making mistakes, encourage them to learn from them.

Sit with them, discuss the errors they have made and encourage them to arrive at the correct solution by themselves! By acknowledging all the inputs positively and valuing different approaches to mathematical problems, teachers can lead them to a whole new world of higher performance.

Sense of competence is a must to feel confident. Students must believe that mathematical competence and ability are changeable and can be developed through practice and experience. Specific feedback to students on particular aspects of work rather than a general “well done” leads to lot more improvement.

teacher clearing student's doubt

  1. Avoid labeling students

Teachers need to exercise caution in choosing adjectives for their students. It is an absolute no-no to label children as ‘weak’ or ‘strong’ at Math. The ‘Math gene’ is a myth. Every child has the potential to excel in Math. Mathematical ability can be easily grown, nurtured and even extended.

The teacher’s responsibility is to guide every student through the right mix of exercises in the gymnasium of Mathematical thinking. However, proper guidance based on student specific needs can only be delivered through student-teacher engagement.

Avoid labeling kid as bad, lazy etc

  1. Make use of visuals, games and props

Mathematical games are the most engaging, interactive and effective ways to bring forth the interesting aspects of the subject. The visuals and manipulatives help kids to understand the subject in a much better and comprehensive manner. Since Mathematics is in itself a universal language, it makes it easy to leverage the existing aids across regional boundaries and cultural contexts.

The use of digital technology to the advantage of the kids works wonders. Even flash cards come very handy to help students. Open ended activities encourage children to be more flexible, inquisitive and creative in their thinking.

teacher taking class with the help of videos and images on a tablet

  1. No running, No rushing, No crashing

It is very important for the children to learn the topics diligently. They need to internalize the concepts so that they stay with them forever. Giving them the time and space to learn at their own pace should be the way to go. Students must be encouraged to ask ‘why’ to understand the underlying concepts. Children must not be constrained by the boundaries of the prescribed curriculum and encouraged to discover, debate and discuss.

For instance, it is pertinent for students to ask questions such as ‘Why is a number divided by zero referred as undefined?’ So, instead of accepting these as gospel truths, it is important for teachers to encourage such a line of questioning, in order to keep the children’s desire to learn alive.

It is useful to establish an understanding of the relationship. Such an approach universally helps a child to excel in all subjects and spheres.

  1. Using the Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is the belief that we can always learn, improve and march forward. Teachers need to strengthen the basic skills of the students so that they can build upon their strong foundation. Learning is a beautiful journey which should go on forever with important milestones.

A fixed mindset, on the other hand, can be dangerous as it can stunt innovation and inquisitiveness and act as an excuse to avoid making efforts. Students having growth mindset makes persistent efforts and turn out to be winners in the long run. ‘Yes, we can’, should be the buzz word.

"I can do things" poster


Good teachers show their love for the subject and help students excel with their brilliant teaching and enthusiasm in the classrooms. Creating an atmosphere that has academic rigor while being intellectually challenging is important. It must be accompanied by emotional support and encouragement necessary to meet those challenges.

The focus of such teachers is on the thinking process that would lead to desired and effective results. It is also necessary to relate the subject to the real world, enabling the students to imagine and enjoy. So the emphasis should be on the real-world relevance of the subject.

Mathematics is a vivid, practical, connected and a beautiful subject. There is a need to spread the joy of the subject. It will be for all of us to see that children will not only survive, but thrive. It can excite, encourage and energize the students when taught with the constructive, creative and logical methodology.

We are sure to have students with increased confidence in themselves and the subject.

About Cuemath

Cuemath, a student-friendly mathematics and coding platform, conducts regular Online Live Classes for academics and skill-development, and their Mental Math App, on both iOS and Android, is a one-stop solution for kids to develop multiple skills. Understand the Cuemath Fee structure and sign up for a free trial.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to build students' confidence in math?

Following are the strategies to help students build confidence in math:

  • Model confidence yourself. Even if you're not quite feeling it!
  • Don't get upset about mistakes.
  • Encourage them to try new things.
  • Allow kids to fail.
  • Praise perseverance.
  • Help kids find their passion.
  • Set goals.

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