Four Strategies to Encourage Curiosity in Math

Instill a positive attitude toward math at an early age.

Sparking curiosity in students plays a vital role in education. When children develop an interest in a topic, they dedicate more time to exploring and learning about it. Math intimidates many students and prevents them from actively seeking mathematical awareness. Teachers face the challenge of easing students comfortably into math lessons and encouraging a positive impression on a subject they might otherwise fear. Once children see past the stigma of math as an impossible subject, they will gain confidence and perform better in class.

1 Play with Math

Encourage children to have fun with math.

At a young age, children find evidence of math in the world around them. Counting friends at school, finding shapes in buildings and measuring ingredients for a recipe all contribute to a curiosity for math. As children grow, they continue to explore math through play, while keeping score with sports or creating a pattern for a necklace. These playful encounters provide teachers with an opportunity to point out the mathematical significance in everyday experiences and introduce new terms and concepts.

2 Model Curiosity

Many children inherit a negative attitude towards math from parents, older siblings and even educators. Adults might discourage a child from pursuing a field of interest by sharing their own personal detachment from that subject. By expressing a positive and enthusiastic attitude toward math, parents and teachers invite children to do the same. Modeling self-confidence in mathematics influences students who feel intimidated by it.

3 Personalize it

Students who have choices and influence on the direction of their education will more likely participate and actively learn. By tailoring lessons to specific interests of the class, a teacher will captivate the students' attention and further strengthen their curiosity for math. Capture their interest by altering word problems from the book to deal with specific students in class or pop culture icons, or prompt the students to craft some creative ones of their own.

4 Stress Significance

Many students have a false impression that mathematical skills do not contribute to their future. Teachers must engage children in real life scenarios that involve a good understanding of math. A unit on math in the professional world will demonstrate the significance of a mathematical awareness. Invite professionals from a range of careers to visit the class and discuss how math contributes to their success at work. Allowing students to simulate these professions in class will further a positive impression of math.

Based in Southern California, Audrey Lucas has nine years of experience teaching preschool children. She contributes to the parenting section of her local children's magazine. Lucas graduated from California State University, San Marcos, in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with an emphasis in literature and writing.