Math/s has to be my favourite subject to teach! As a student myself I discovered I was really good at Maths in Grades 8 and 9, yet I didn't achieve spectacularly well in Maths further on. Why, you may ask? Well, I lacked confidence in my own ability. As an educator I have taught both classroom Maths to Grades 1 and 2 and extra/intervention Maths to children from Grades 1 to 7 and I have discovered that with most children who have a problem with Maths, confidence is the key!
Children need the confidence provided by a solid foundation in simple Maths skills, "bonds" or number facts, skip counting, tables, number sense... and need to meet with success when completing early Maths tasks to develop the confidence to try - and sometimes make a mistake! In the early years practise, practise, practise is essential to building confidence. Using manipulatives or physical materials/things is of utmost importance - even into the higher grades. It is my belief that unless a child can understand what is being learnt by seeing, touching, manipulating, hearing and doing they will never fully grasp a new concept.
What does this mean for teachers? Well, from my viewpoint - have masses and masses of concrete apparatus available. Money (plastic/paper coins and notes are fine), clocks that can be manipulated (both analogue and digital), stop watches, unifix cubes, 10's, 100's and 1000's manipulatives, counters, fraction strips and fraction circles, tape measures, rulers, metre sticks, non-standard measures, different size containers for measuring capacity, balance scales, scales, objects for measuring mass, 3 dimensional shapes, etc, etc, etc.
And practise, practise, practise...never forget about the basics. Even as children become older and more able. Knowing that 3 and 7 makes 10, helps the understanding of 30 and 70 is 100, 300 and 700 is 100, 0,3 and 0,7 is 1 and so on.
Someone once told me..."Maths is a language. You have to "speak" it everyday to become good at it." Parents play a vital role here. By introducing young children to the world of numbers early on through games, chores, counting, etc the stage is set for later learning and CONFIDENCE! Over the next few days I will share some simple ideas relating to teaching Maths and to developing early Maths skills in young children. I will also post some freebies...so make sure to visit often!