Tips for Teaching in the Elementary Classroom

Teaching math is teaching math, right?  Not by a long shot!  The way we approach teaching children is far different from how we teach adults, and both are completely different from how we teach adolescents.  Although certain elements are the same, there are at least six differences in how it is better to teach in the elementary school classroom from how we would teach other students.  Here’s a brief rundown of those six differences:

1) Working smarter to keep their attention.  Elementary kids cannot focus on a long, drawn-out lecture for 45 minutes.  Generally, they need to change up what they’re doing every 10 to 15 minutes.  So if you have a 50 minute class, be prepared to change up what they’re doing about four or five times. This keeps it fresh and flowing!

2) We have to fill the child’s day with interactive activities. Kids won’t recite multiplication tables for 50 minutes, or memorize 50 states without some sort of fun game to do it through. Instead, we have them talk and share. Including activities like puzzles, games and role playing shows, has them learning by doing.

3) We practice patience.  In most cases, young children genuinely want to learn.  Katy doesn’t keep missing those subtraction questions to irritate us.  She just doesn’t understand it, so rather than be fooled by upset, we exercise patience, find the root of the problem, and help her to overcome it.

4) We show that we value the student.  This actually applies to any age level, but with elementary students, it’s critically important.  We’re teaching these kids at a time when they’re developing their self-esteem. When we show them that they’re important by asking them to help us with chores like “leading the line” to lunch or by cleaning the erasers or by complimenting them in class, these things tell the student that they are important and needed in the classroom.

5) We involve them in team-building activities. Team-building activities are healthy for all students, but is essential for elementary kids.  Without team-building activities, the child tends to be very selfish.  Involving him or her early in working as a team takes the child’s focus off him/herself as a lone individual and places it with others as a group.  Games, puppet shows, and role playing in small groups are examples of ways to teach children to cooperate with others.

Our latest Math Activity Game is called Hex-A-Race.  It is a very fun floor (or table) game designed for Grades 4-6, and is a very interactive activity with teams, focusing on adding and subtracting mostly, with multiplication and division using small numbers:

Comments (6)

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  1. Raigen O'Donohue says:

    I absolutely agree with everything you said, especially about patience. Patience truly is a virtue in the teaching field. My fifth grade teammates and I have done many team building sctivities over the last two years. We find that it is a boost for many children’s self esteem, but it also makes then unite as a team. In fact, we no longer consider ourselves, Mrs. O’Donohue’s class, Mrs. M’s class, Mrs. P’s class…we are the fifth grade team. The unification has helped with issues inside the class and outside. We find that because we are doing more hands on team-building activities, thes students are getting more out of the curriculum. I am th esole grade five math teacher for our building and I can’t wait to try some of your games with my class. I’m so happy that I have found this blog!

  2. Rob says:

    Hi Raigen and The Fifth Grade Team. We are very pleased to read your post. Thank you for sharing this and saying such wonderful things about the article! You must have a very interesting class.

  3. Bob Wright says:

    Free Math Flash Cards is the fastest easiest way to memorize the multiplication table. The address is

    Please give it a try!

  4. Henriette Gougeon says:

    Nice tips for Teaching in the Elementary Classroom.

  5. Rob says:

    Thank you / Merci Henriette. :)

  6. Ms. Hynes says:

    Yay!!! Thank you Raigen…We Trust your class continues to thrive in Learning and Achieving Beautiful Brains and Hearts!

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