Math for Learning Styles: Customizing the way you teach math
We all have memories from our childhood that have stuck like cement. Some we are grateful to remember; others we wish we could forget. One of my most vivid memories, and one I wish I could wipe clean from my memory, was of being humiliated in front of the entire Geometry class. I was no math scholar, but was very strong in other subjects and believed I could soldier through geometry as I had been doing every year for math, hating every minute but determined to do well. But I had no idea that proofs were headed my way!
I struggled mightily the entire first month to understand and grasp what we were learning. I was petrified of our first test and nervously waited 2 days for the results to come in and when they did, my stomach was in my throat! I’ll never forget the exact moment when our teacher told us that tests would be handed out in grade order, starting with A’s and moving to F’s. Yep, that’s right. Everyone in the class was going to know who the geometry whizzes were and who they weren’t.
Mine came dead last.
I had failed my first test ever and my entire class knew it. This pattern was repeated throughout most of the year and, while I didn’t always fail, I left 9th grade believing that I couldn’t “do” math, no matter how smart I was or how hard I worked. I felt like a total failure.
Everyone Can "Do" Math...
What I never realized is that I certainly could “do” math; everyone can! I just needed to be taught in a different way. You see, I’m not an auditory learner. I learn through doing, using my hands, replicating, and seeing the process. Had I been taught this way, I am sure that geometry would have clicked for me, and I would have felt successful. That memory of Geometry inspires my determination to teach my children in the way they learn best and therefore ensure that they always feel successful. Teaching math using my children’s primary learning styles has been the cure for math phobia and feelings of failure!
If you’re not sure how to tackle learning styles, or what they are, Bridgestone offers a (premium) learning style assessment here. Knowing your child’s learning style will help you choose math curriculum, plan lessons, and engage your children in the way that their brains learn best. But, teaching math for each learning style can be tricky. That’s why we’ve compiled the best math strategies for your child’s learning style so you don’t have to!
Math for Visual Learners
- Use diagrams, charts, and pictures whenever possible. Be sure to create charts for processes.
- Highlight important definitions, concepts, and formulas with colored highlighters.
- Play math games online. Our favorite sites are brainpop.com and kahnacademy.com
- Draw in math! Incorporate art as often as possible.
- Create math projects. Have your student create posters, dioramas, etc. of their math concepts based upon how they exist or are used in the real world.
- Math picture flash cards. Have your student assign a mental picture to each formula or concept and create flashcards for easy memorization.
Math for Auditory Learners
- Read the textbook or lesson aloud. Have your student read it aloud with you.
- Listen to music! Create songs to memorize math facts and formulas.
- Work in math groups.
- Talk through tough problems or mistakes.
- Make process cards that your student can read out loud.
- Incorporate presentations into your assessments. Auditory learners love to teach the teacher!
Math for Tactile/Kinesthetic Learners
- Use hands-on math manipulatives.
- Create and play math games that involve the whole body.
- Move, dance, swing, or jump while memorizing math facts and formulas.
- Tackle difficult concepts and tests after exercise.
- Create math projects using different media. Try any of these great ideas!
Math can be hard for some learners, especially those who simply don’t enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean your student can’t be successful! Teach your child math using his/her learning style to ensure they are fully engaged and able to process, absorb, and retain the information. When we speak our child’s learning language, what seems impossible is made possible and success is within reach regardless of the subject.
Keep learning fun by using techniques and strategies that inspire your student. Bridgeway Homeschool Academy hosts free downloads for more resources for your Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Visual learners.