Tag Archives: math skills

What Successful Math Students Do

General Math Tips

Before the end of the school year I had a discussion with a mum who asked what her child could do in order to continue to be successful in math (e.g. “successful” in a very general, “life skills” sense). “Sam” had always struggled with math and had finally reached a place where she felt successful. Yay!

Mum and I had a great chat, and together (together in the true sense of the word as she had many excellent ideas as well) we came up with the following list of suggestions.

& so … If you had been a fly on my classroom wall you would have seen two women, working together, creating & building on the ideas of one another for the child.

(The Bonus: In the end I feel that I benefited as much as they did.)


Marvelous Math: A Mindlful Approach

“Be organized. Clear the Clutter”
– Organize your locker and desk at school. Organize your homework space at home. Keep binders, pencil boxes, all math materials well organized. Organize your time!
– Be organized in your thinking. When approaching a task have a plan; a method! If you don’t have  plans or methods find the, ask for them, adopt them, use them.
– Clear the clutter on the page. Approach activities and assignments clearly – methodically.

– Do assigned homework every night to the best of your ability. Pay careful attention to what seems to “flow” naturally and when you seem to get stuck. Have post it notes on hand to mark any pages on which you have questions or concerns.
– Find a homework buddy(s). Have a couple of friends “on call” if you find that you are beginning to feel at all frustrated or unsure.

“Establish an Understanding”
Math is about making sense of our world. When given a question, activity or formula work through it until you understand it – e.g. know where  formula came from & where it will take you. Don’t just memorize! Understand! Internalize! Own it!
– It’s also very important to understand the language of math. e.g. What does it mean to  multiply? What are fractions? Why are graphs useful? When problem solving how do you know whether you need to add, subtract, multiply or divide?)

“Math Dictionaries”

– Use your math dictionary when necessary – keep it on hand. If your teacher is not making personal dictionaries in class then consider purchasing one. There are great books available for all ages and grade levels. There are also some wonderful online math dictionaries.

“Review & Repeat”
Never underestimate the importance of review and repetition when acquiring a new skill/concept.

“Play, play, play – Take risks – Have fun!”
Exude confidence. Believe in yourself! Dive right in! Be an active participant. Use manipulatives, doodle, draw, colour code, create!
Approach math in diligent and yet playful manner. It can be tons of fun to work with numbers and formulas.

“The Classroom Connection”
Listen, participate, share, question, celebrate.

“A Team Effort”
Teachers and parents are part of a student’s team!
Your teachers and parents want you to be successful! Ask for help if and when  you need it.

General Tips:
– Develop and use problem solving strategies consistently.
– Always show you work.
– Master your basic multiplication/number facts. If you haven’t mastered them yet them have a chart handy.
– Play free online math games. There are a ton out there. Some good sites can be found here: http://5thchat.wikispaces.com/Grade+5+Resources+-+Math
– Read picture books that have a math theme/component.

Finally: Have a good look around you! Math is everywhere!