How To Teach Elementary Math: Advice and Instructions

Teaching math to elementary students can be challenging. The tips and directions outlined here can help your students rethink their attitudes towards math and make classroom learning more enjoyable.

Find available tutors

Teaching Tips for Elementary Math


Some basic teaching philosophies can help you succeed in teaching math. First, use a variety of methods to meet different learning styles, such as visual, audio and kinesthetic. However, no matter how fun you can make a class, students still need to know basic math facts, like the multiplication tables, which may best be memorized through rote learning and drilling.

Don't advance to a new concept until students have a grasp on the current topic. For example, don't explain 'carrying over' until they understand place values. Only teach subtraction once your students understand addition and know the addition table. Build on skills that your students have mastered in order to help them gain confidence.

Include activities that show students practical uses of math. Children may understand a mathematical concept if it's relevant to their daily lives. For example, an exercise involving money can illustrate why we need math.

Use methods like cooperative learning only if they help the student's progress. You're the teacher; children have a hard time teaching themselves or helping one another if they can't do the math themselves.


No single approach to presenting or practicing a new math fact will be helpful to every student. Use a variety of ways to communicate each math concept.

If you use multiple methods to reinforce a lesson, be clear about tying the concepts together. For instance, one class learned a catchy song that taught many math facts with examples for each. The class could sing the song without a hitch, even singing it for other classes. The teacher assumed the children would make the logical connection between the song and what they were learning in class, so she never referred to the song when teaching those concepts. However, not one student made the connection, and remembering those math facts was just as hard for them as ever.

Show how every fun presentation of a math fact applies to the lesson. Here are creative ways to present math facts.

songs to present a new fact or aid retention
base-10 rods and blocks or Cuisenaire rods, dried beans, egg cartons, beads, candy, restaurant menus, toy cash registers, play money and art supplies that can be used to physically demonstrate a new concept
Stories, poems and drama
read aloud by you, silently by the students or quietly in small groups; written by the students; acted out as plays
Art and illustrations
pictures of stories, songs, manipulatives and decorative 'fonts' for writing math sentences
computer games, board games and pen-and-pencil games
Practice and rote learning
flash cards, timed worksheets and word problems
Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    10 Top Math Apps for Elementary School Children

    Is your child struggling with math in elementary school? You may be able to get him or her excited about learning math by using an educational app on your iPad, iPhone, Android or other mobile device. Here are ten apps for elementary school children that may hold the key to math success.

  • More Blog Articles
    Elementary School Math Test Anxiety

    Too much anxiety about tests can be debilitating and result in poor performance. It can interfere with studying, cause difficulty with learning new material and even have a negative effective on a child's social interactions

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth