Have you ever wondered how mindset can help with math? To answer that, first, we need to establish exactly what “mindset” is and more importantly, WHY is it so important? Well, it’s an established set of attitudes that a person embodies. Although that is quite a vague definition, it encompasses the concept’s breadth of possibility for everyone.
Mindset can vary depending upon the person, their human experience, and the lessons they’ve learned. Admittedly, it is sometimes incredibly difficult to keep a fortified or completely positive mindset when hardships pummel you, but that’s what makes mindsets so vital to growth.
You see, if one were to choose the mindset that things happen TO them rather than FOR them, it puts them in a passive position within their own life.
My name is Eric Earle and I’ve been studying and applying the ideas of mindset for the last decade in my teaching and tutoring. I’m the founder of numerous math tutoring websites including TutorPortland.com, MathTutorBoston.com, & MathTutorsMiami.com. In all of our tutoring we believe in the power of mindset. We particularly encourage our students to develop a growth mindset because this mental model has been shown to improve math grades.
Mindset growth occurs when struggles or challenges are re-perceived as opportunities to grow perspective, deepen understanding, and teach something new.
How mindset can help with math
Now, how is this all incorporated into teaching math to young students? I’m sure many of us are aware that math is a bit more difficult for some compared to others, and kids don’t have the same kind of emotional regulation skills adults may have. Therefore, it’s more natural for them to let their frustration towards a challenging math lesson turn into a negative mindset. This may be perpetuated if they don’t receive the necessary resources or guidance, thus enabling them to believe they aren’t “smart” or “capable” enough.
It’s imperative to remember that math is not the sole indicator of a young person’s ability to succeed and grow. It would be unfair to even implicate or think so! That’s why it’s super productive, empowering, and mindful to better teach ALL children how to incorporate mindfulness into their routine so that when they do encounter math (or any other stressful educational topic), it’s a much more beneficial experience.
So now that we’ve established that mindset can help with math, here are some tips that can be used by anyone: teachers, guardians, educational professionals, even tutors!
1. Create a space for your students that values making mistakes. Why? Because perfectionism doesn’t exist! Allotting for natural bumps in the road in the process of learning is what helps kids to only learn from their mistakes, but learn more about themselves and how they absorb info best!
2. Peer and group work is key! That’s right, kids can learn just as much from each other as the teacher that instructs them! Incorporate station work, group activities, and even some healthy team competition so they’re encouraged to value teamwork, feedback, and constructive criticism! Also, children know how to communicate with children in a way that’ll stick… so motivate them to support one another!
3. Learn to communicate in more positive, empowering ways with kids! They take things much more literally than full grown adults, so maybe research phrases and vocabulary that’ll strengthen their mindsets! You can even add this into a classroom’s decorating method (bulletin boards, worksheets, class events, etc.)
4. Empathy is key. The ability to put yourself in a child’s shoes, especially when faced with a struggle, will help to guide them out of the negativity and look for solutions. It also makes them feel less isolated!
5. Improvise real-life situations that the math being taught is applicable! According to Boaler & Foster (2014) “Students can grasp high-level ideas, but they will not develop the brain connections that allow them to do so if they are given low-level work and negative messages about their own potential.”
6. Do not utilize speed as a motivating factor. All children move at different paces, so diminish the emphasis and try to be more flexible with students who need that extra time and attention!
7. Offer many opportunities for one-on-one extra help! Although group work can strengthen a child’s collaborative skills, the opportunity for individual attention when completing schoolwork can provide great insight into their key struggles!
Using one, multiple, or all of these principles can drastically affect a child’s self and educational development! Even if it’s one transition at a time it can have the potential to radically alter a child’s attitude, approach, or mood when it’s time to complete their mathematical education!
And this can even extend beyond math. There is no limitation to mindset growth in all areas of education and the environments it populates. However, because math is a topic that many students lack organic comprehension in, it’s a subject that gets very overlooked when addressing mindset’s influence.
It’s time to have a very open discussion on the basis of math education and how it can evolve not just as a discipline but as a chance for students to broaden their overall explorative nature.
If you happen to have direct encounters with students who are currently learning any branch of math, start to recognize the impact of mindset in their behavior, communication, and problem-solving skills. One alteration in their curriculum may just be the key to a quantum leap in their confidence, intellectual capabilities, and future learning opportunities.
Did you realise that mindset can help with math?