- Estimation is a core component of math understanding, but it's also a concept many students struggle with, Thomas Courtney, a 5th grade teacher in San Diego, writes for Edutopia.
- To help students develop this skill, Courtney guides them through exercises while talking through their solutions and allowing them to develop their own estimation strategies. Students begin by making rough estimates, and Courtney directs them toward learning how to be more precise with their answers, explaining how and why the skill can be helpful in everyday life.
- By sharing their strategies and working through exercises collaboratively, students can boost not only their ability to estimate, but also their confidence in tackling math with the ability to establish parameters for where a solution should fall, Courtney writes.
Math is a subject that can bring trepidation to students and teachers alike. There are, however, many strategies educators can bring into the classroom that can shift a child’s attitude toward math from one of nervousness to excitement — and even confidence.
Using tools like estimation and prediction can help students start to think mathematically about problems introduced in the classroom. Educators can also adopt cross-curricular options, from interactive storytelling to writing personal narratives, linking math work to subjects students may be more comfortable with. This may help to spark their interest in the subject by providing an indirect path and engaging them in learning.
It’s critical, though, that teachers ensure students have a solid grounding on each math concept introduced before moving forward. One top strategy is to allow classes time to learn from their mistakes, asking them how they went about their work and then walking through the steps with students so they can find and correct any missteps.
While some children may feel a pull to mistakenly decide they’re not a "math person," educators can counteract that assessment by providing support and strategies to help them feel more confident and capable.