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Does your child often express how much they dislike math? It doesn’t have to be their favourite subject, but if the mere sight of a division sign causes your child to panic, it might be an indication that they need to start building their math confidence. Building math confidence can be a challenge for many students, but encouraging your child to practise mathematical thinking and apply their skills means they’ll be less afraid to make mistakes. They’ll also be more likely to challenge themselves to tackle more complex problems, ultimately benefitting their skills and independence within the subject.

As a parent, it’s important to encourage your child to build their confidence in math. Confidence allows children to understand the value of making mistakes and develop a willingness to take risks in order to achieve success. The next time your child exclaims their dislike for the subject, consider testing out some of these studying tips and math strategies for struggling students:

4 Strategies for Building Math Confidence

1. Praise their efforts as much as their successes.

Celebrating your child’s efforts just as much as their successes is an essential step in the journey to building math confidence. All too often, we say things like “I’m not a math person”, and phrases such as this can lead your child to believe math skills come from natural-born intelligence. By praising their focus and dedication to improving their skills in the subject, you can teach your child it’s their actions that can help them succeed at something rather than their born intelligence. Try to avoid generic phrases such as “good work” and aim for something a little more personalized to the situation such as, “you put in a great effort on this math problem, if you keep it up, you’ll get it in no time!”. It’s important to promote mathematical thinking rather than just getting the correct answer.

2. Positive language leads to math confidence.

Even if your mathematical thinking isn’t up to par, try to avoid using phrases like, “I’m just not good at math” around your child. Children often internalize the things they hear from parents and teachers, which could leave your child thinking they’re also “just not good at math”. Additionally, it’s important to avoid telling your child that they don’t have a math brain since this instils the idea that math skills are something people are born with, giving them an excuse to not study hard and learn the subject. The truth is, everyone can become good at math if they work hard and challenge themselves.

3. Set goals to improve your child’s math skills.

Setting realistic goals is a great way to track your child’s progress and help them identify how much they’ve learned and improved. Make your child’s achievements visible by using a chart to track their progress towards meeting their goals. Have your child check in on their goals throughout the school year to mark their growth and when they meet their final goal—celebrate! It’s also important to remind them that it was their hard work and dedication to learn that helped them accomplish their goals.

4. Instil trust in their mathematical thinking.

A great way to help your child trust their mathematical thinking is to ask how they solved a problem and let them explain without correcting their mistakes. Allowing your child to explain their thought process presents an opportunity to understand what they know about a topic and where their skill level lies. When you give your child the chance to justify their thinking, it will help them become more confident in their work. This self-assurance will help them become more independent and motivated to learn, which will be a huge benefit both inside and outside of the classroom.

Math Homework & Study Tips for Struggling Students

Of course, homework isn’t typically something most kids enjoy. If you’re looking for more tips to help your child stay motivated and complete their math homework, check out our 5 tips to help your child tackle math homework.

Improve your Child’s Math Skills with Scholars

At Scholars, we take the time to personalize our Math Tutoring Program for each student. We use standardized Canadian assessments to determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan and help them reach their math goals. The qualified tutors at Scholars can help students of all grade levels tackle their math anxiety and build the confidence necessary to learn and succeed at math. Contact a Scholars location to ask about your complimentary tutoring assessment!


Dr. Danielle, PhD


December 20, 2021