How to Improve Math Skills in Young Students

It is so important for young students to truly understand the math skills they are being taught in the first few years of elementary school.  These are the essential building blocks for the more difficult math skills that will be taught later on in their school career.  When math is properly introduced and consistently worked on, your student will have a firm understanding of math concepts which will make learning these skills a more interesting and far less frustrating experience. 

So how do you improve these math skills?  The first thing that you need to consider is the type of learner that this young student is.  Is he or she an auditory learner or visual learner?  Are hands on materials the best way to get these concepts across?  This information will change the way that this child should be taught.  Here are a few suggestions that may work for your young student.


Manipulatives will help students understand the concepts of counting, adding, and subtracting.  When first learning what a number means, you can start by counting out a snack like raisins, little graham cookies, cheerios, or other favorite food.  When ready to start adding and subtracting, you can use these same manipulatives to learn these important concepts.  Once adding and subtracting are mastered, you can move on to more difficult concepts like multiplying and dividing in the same way.  The great part of this method of learning is that your student gets the reward of eating their math work when they are done.


While workbooks can be tedious for some students; others will love them.  This just depends on the type of learner that this student is.  There are some really great workbooks out there and there are some that are quite boring.  It is a good idea to check a website like Amazon to see what workbooks are available and what reviews these books received.  Some well reviewed workbooks include the “Developing Number Concepts” series and the Kumon math workbooks.

Computer Games

CD-ROM computer games are a great way to teach math skills to young students.  You can even find some exciting, yet educational math games online that are completely free.  If you cannot find any good online games on your own, your teacher or school system’s website may be able to inform you about some great resources.


It is so important for a parent or guardian to be involved with their child’s math homework. This is the way that parents will know what is being taught in class and if their child is struggling with it.  Remember, there are many students in your child’s class and homework is your child’s chance to get one on one instruction. 


There are also some wonderful children’s books that teach math concepts.  Some great ones include: “Ten Little Ladybugs” by Melanie Gerth, “Math Fables” by Greg Tang, “One grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale” by Demi, “Six-Dinner Sid” by Inga Moore, “Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar” by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno, and “How Much is a Million” by David M. Schwartz.  You can check your local library, bookstore, or Amazon among other online sellers for more options.  Even if you plan on borrowing math books from the library, it is good to check an online store like Amazon for suggestions and reviews, although not all books available online will be at your local library.


Your students will be much more inclined to work hard on their math if they know that there is a reward at the end.  This does not have to be an expensive endeavor.  It could be simply going on a walk one on one with mom or dad.  It could also mean watching a special movie at home with some popcorn.  It will make your student feel so much better to have an acknowledgment of all of the hard work that he or she put in.

One important thing to keep in mind when teaching math to young students is to keep the lessons relatively short, depending on their age, but work on them consistently everyday.  You also want to try to invest some fun into these lessons.  Your student will be much more eager to learn and work on these math concepts if it does not feel like a chore.  It is also okay to take a break when frustration sets in.  Especially with young students, you can do more harm than good if you push when the child is clearly frustrated.  Waiting for a calmer moment to talk over the problem is much more beneficial. These are just a few of the ways that you can help improve the math skills in young students.