5 Mistakes When Teaching Math

21 October 4:00 am
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The 5 Most Crucial Mistakes When Teaching Math

This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.

There are five crucial mistakes that teachers (and parents) make over and over and over again, when teaching math. These mistakes place huge barriers in front of their kids and their kids’ efforts in learning math.And if these mistakes are not eliminated first, parents will have:* kids who are always dreading their math lessons

* kids who may develop a deep anxiety when it comes to math

* kids whose confidence in themselves takes a battering because of poor math results

If you’re making any of the mistakes below, think about getting rid of them NOW. Then you and your kids have a much better chance of succeeding.

Mistake #1: The long drawn-out explanation

Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking the longer the explanation, the better it is.

In fact, the reverse is true.

Keep explanations **short** and to the point.

3-4 minutes for younger kids, 5-8 minutes for older kids. Then get them to immediately practice what they have just learned.

Mistake #2: Complicated explanations and showing too many diverse methods

Not only should you be keeping it short, you’ve also got to keep your explanations **simple**.

You are of course already aware that often there are multiple ways of approaching a math problem, all are which are “valid”.

However, math is much easier to teach when you know which methods kids understand best, and know which methods you must avoid. Do a little research on your end, as necessary. Whatever you do, don’t complicate things.

Mistake #3: Not understanding that kids need to be rock-solid in their basics and foundations.

Discovery learning has its place. But when it comes to Math, it needs to be AFTER the kids are rock-solid in their basics and foundations.

Mistake #4: Thinking rote learning times tables is bad, bad, bad.

Strange as this may seem to any intelligent person, there is a very strong feeling amongst many educators believing all rote learning is wrong. Why so wrong? Because, they say, it crushes the child’s creative spirit.

What???!!! Are these people nuts?

It is imperative students rote learn their times tables so they can recall the facts instantly. Not in three seconds, not in five seconds. INSTANTLY.

And not just times tables, but all of the basic recall facts too.

Mistake #5: Getting frustrated when kids don’t understand things the first time. Or even the second time, or the third…

Have I been guilty of this mistake? Yes. Could I make the same mistake in the future? Of course, I’m human. But I know I’m a lot better now at controlling my frustration than I ever used to be.

But it isn’t easy.

As difficult as it is, it’s essential your kids don’t sense you being frustrated with them because they didn’t get it the first time.

And I mean sensing ANY frustration whatsoever.

Because if they do then in future they will hesitate to come to you with problems because they’re worried about how you’ll react.

Problems about math.

And problems about things much more important than math.

So these are the mistakes most commonly made. Same as they were ten years ago. And probably the same as they will be ten years from now.

And now that you know them, it’s important to reflect and work on ways to avoid them.

I’m sure you can do it. Believe me, it’ll be worth it.


Patrick Murray
CTC Math teacher and founder

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