Motivation plays an important role in achieving success in different disciplines. However, many people are surprised when they hear that proper motivation is crucial for developing good math skills. How to motivate students, who want to be better at math and support them along the way?
Many students, who are less successful at math believe that they are incapable of learning math by design. Psychologists, such as Patricia Linehan, call this issue “entity orientation”. Kids with entity orientation believe that some students are better at math, some are worse and there is nothing that they can do about it. It is as if they were saying that you are either born intelligent or not, end of the story. The truth is that both intelligence and math skills are developed through the process of socialization, education and most importantly – practice. Students with entity orientation fail to notice that some kids in the classroom put twice as much energy and time into practicing math, hence they are better at it. It is important to emphasize the fact that every student can become better at math, if they practice more. To help children understand that their skills are a product of hard work, look for good role models – people, who improved their abilities through practicing and overcoming problems on their way. Some researchers suspect that “entity orientation” is the source of the gender gap in mathematics, therefore it is important to look for female role models for girls to look up to.
Don’t Push too Hard
Encouraging positive motivation is often harder, than we think. That is because the true motivation should come from within, not from other people. On top of that, the best kind of motivation is the one, which focuses on gaining new knowledge rather than achieving better grades. Students, who are motivated to learn math, because they think that this discipline is valuable, interesting and fun, achieve better results than those students, who simply want to have better grades. Teachers and parents, who want to help kids struggling with math face a difficult task. If they push too hard, they might end up stressing out the kid or encouraging the wrong kind of motivation:“I want to be better at math to make my parents/ my teachers happy”. Instead of pushing your child too hard, focus on the positive aspect of learning math and interesting and useful applications of the rules of mathematics.
Find the right Tools
If you want to better motivate your children/ students, you need to find the right kind of tools. Check Singapore math textbooks, which present a different look at mathematics: a lot more, practical, coherent and easier to comprehend than the traditional curriculum. Your children/ students might enjoy that mode of studying more than normal math books. Another good idea is to send your children to math workshops, where they can participate in math games, solve fun exercises and unleash their creativity. Participation in after school workshops can be a life changing experience, which will open your children’s eyes to the beauty of mathematics.
Marta Gromadzka is a writer and editor with a wide variety of experience, including writing for websites internationally and editing books on many different subjects and in a variety of formats.