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Math Instructional Strategies that are Guaranteed to Work

Math is considered one of the most challenging subjects for students to master. Learning and understanding mathematics can be difficult, frustrating, and discouraging for some students. Teaching mathematical concepts can also be complicated. However, with exciting, beneficial, proven methods for math instruction, teachers will see their students understand, master, and apply mathematical concepts.

Students learn in many different ways. Some students may enjoy and immediately understand what their instructors teach; other students may struggle and get discouraged or upset when they fail to understand a concept. To encourage positive thinking among students, teachers should use a variety of instructional strategies. Doing so will help them better connect with all students and accommodate each student’s unique learning style.

The following teaching strategies help teach mathematics to students:

Hands-on Learning

Hands-on learning is a useful strategy for teaching math. Many students learn better when they can touch and manipulate a physical representation of what is being taught.

Teachers should supply their students with items such as blocks, candy, marbles, strips of paper, pencils, or other objects that are inexpensive and can be hand-held. Students can learn how to add, subtract, multiply, or divide as they sort these small items into groups.

For example, a teacher could give a student five wooden blocks. To demonstrate the equation 5-3=2, the teacher or student would take away three blocks. They should then ask the student how many blocks remain. The student should say that only two blocks remain. Although it may seem simplistic, this hands-on method would provide clarity for a student who finds difficulty with mental calculations.

Teachers do not need to purchase expensive things for their students to use when they learn. The items do need to be safe and easily manipulated by students.

Visual Learning

Some students learn best through visual learning. This means that they understand concepts when taught with pictures, videos, or diagrams. According to mathseeds.com and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, visual learning is one of the most helpful strategies a math instructor can use for student growth (Mathseeds).

Visual learning is easy to incorporate for a classroom setting. Teachers can draw or write on chalkboards or whiteboards in front of the whole class. They can show pictures from books or the internet and can show the students instructional videos. Showing visible evidence of a math concept or visually demonstrating a correct procedure is a practical, easy way to increase math comprehension among students.

Working with a Partner or an Assigned Group

While some students prefer to study or work on assignments alone, teachers may find that some students prefer to learn with their peers. Math teachers can instruct students to work with a partner or in an assigned group to learn, understand, and practice mathematics.

Working with other students has many benefits. According to mashupmath.com, having students work together in assigned groups increases their confidence and encourages them to learn and contribute to a lesson (MashupMath). Students can express their ideas and gain feedback from their peers. They create a positive association with math as they have fun and complete assignments with their peers. Students will not only have more fun and greater support when learning math, they will develop social skills as they learn from one another and acquaint themselves with their schoolmates.

Using Relevant Scenarios

Because math is considered an abstract subject, students may struggle to understand the concepts and applications that are being taught to them. To emphasize their meaning and encourage understanding, teachers should use relevant, creative story problems or scenarios that apply to the children. As teachers integrate math problems into stories, students will be able to understand and focus as they learn.

Perhaps a teacher is instructing her students on addition. She could create a scenario for the students, asking them to imagine a girl with eight apples. If the girl gives away four of her apples, how many will she have left? The students will be able to envision the story and should give the correct answer: four.

As teachers create stories and scenarios to help students imagine math problems, they can use drawings, videos, or wooden blocks to demonstrate the story. This practical combination of learning strategies will help students learn and understand what they are being taught.

Play Games

Teaching and learning math can be enjoyable and fun for teachers and students. Teachers can organize quick games for students to play that teach mathematical principles. This is proven to encourage student participation and provides a break from routine classroom learning.

Maria Kampen provides several game ideas in her article “36 Teaching Strategies to Try in 2020” (Kampen). Here is one of her games:

“Bouncing Sums: Label a beach ball with integers, decimals, and fractions. Each student must read the number on his or her label, adding or multiplying it by the sum from the previous student” (Kampen).

If teachers have access to computers for their students, they can also have their students play online math games. Websites such as coolmathgames.com offer fun, free games that help students learn how to understand math interactively.

In summation, teachers should organize and use a variety of proven teaching strategies in their lessons when teaching math. These teaching strategies include hands-on learning, visual learning, working with a partner or group, using relevant scenarios, or playing games. As teachers combine these exciting, beneficial, proven methods for teaching math, they will see academic improvement in their classes and will enjoy watching their students quickly learn and understand mathematics.


Kampen, Maria. Prodigy Game, “36 Teaching Strategies to Try in 2020, https://www.prodigygame.com/blog/teaching-strategies/, February 28, 2019.

Mathseeds, “7 Effective Strategies for Teaching Elementary Math,” https://mathseeds.com/articles/2018/02/01/teaching-elementary-math/, January 2, 2018.

Persico, Anthony. MashupMath, “What Math Teaching Strategies Work Best? 16 Math Education Experts Share Their Suggestions,” https://mashupmath.com/blog/math-teaching-strategies-featuring-jo-boaler, July 29, 2019.

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