Children of all ages often report harboring a distaste for math, but beyond elementary school, it can be difficult to engage them with math in a way that encourages them to enjoy the subject. Parents and teachers often find the strategies and resources that worked in the past to make math fun have fallen short when implemented in middle school. This can be due to previous experience that may be negatively impacting your child's relationship with math, a transforming opinion on what constitutes "fun" in the classroom, or even the changing needs between childhood and the beginnings of adolescence.
So for parents and teachers trying to foster a love of learning in students, what approach can be made for teaching math to middle school students?
Foster Trust Between Teacher and Student
One of the most important aspects of creating a positive experience in the classroom is to build trust between teacher and student. Children in middle school are entering a period of their lives where they long to be considered more mature. If you treat your students maturely and have high--but realistic--expectations of your students, you may find that your students are willing to rise to those expectations.
However, with this tactic, it's important for you to be willing to work with the students who struggle to engage with the curriculum. Many students have suffered some fall back at the hands of the school system, and children who have fallen through the cracks often struggle to engage with classes because of this. To counteract this, you must be patient with students. By working with the children struggling most with the curriculum, you can create a rapport that makes it easier to foster learning.
Take Time to Build Confidence in Math Skills
Many middle school students have a distaste for math because they don't feel confident in their ability to do well in the subject. In this group, there are a few types of students:
- Students who have never been good at math.
- Students who were great at math in elementary school but struggle with more complex math.
- Students who did not have to study before and now can't coast by.
All of these children may show a similar distaste for math but have different reasons. If you're a parent with a child struggling in math, it's important you identify the root cause of your child's disconnect with the subject. Whether the solution is going over fundamental math basics, reviewing current curriculum in new ways until your child can understand it, or teaching a student studying skills so they can learn curriculum they don't immediately understand, parents have to meet students where they are in order to build up their skill and enjoyment of the subject.
No matter what barriers are present that are inhibiting students in their ability to learn math, patience and understanding from both parent and teacher can help foster a healthier relationship between middle school students and mathematics.