Turn your child into a maths magician?

Everybody Loves Praise!
We all love to be told we are doing a great job and our children are no different. But how do we praise effectively?
It is well known that when we praise our children, they are more motivated to try new things and they are less concerned about making a mistake they can learn from.

Praise is essential in building your child's self-esteem and sense of self-worth. While some worry that to much praise will inflate the ego, giving a big head, the real intention of praise is to motivate and guide your child in the appropriate direction, in maths and education, and in life.

Obstacles To Praise

Sometimes it is difficult or uncomfortable to give praise even to our children and it may not be something you are used to doing regularly. If this is the case set yourself a goal for each worksheet, to find 1 thing to praise your child on. Once you get used to this it becomes easier and easier to find opportunities for sincere praise.

Sometimes all we seem to do is praise. While on the surface this seems great, blanket praise for attributes such as intelligence or athletic ability can inhibit the child's desire to try new things or take risks as they are afraid they might fail and lose your high appraisal.

Following the ideas below will help bring balance to your praise and make it more effective:


Focus On The Effort

While it is easy to praise for a great outcome, it is the hard work and effort that should be recognised because that is the part that is above and beyond the norm.

Focusing on effort rather than on outcome also encourages your child to be motivated by the positive feelings of working towards success, over things they have the power to change (effort not attributes).

Be Specific And Genuine

General praise such as "you did awesome work on that worksheet" has its place but the impact and motivation of praise is much more effective if it is directed at something specific.

Try praising along the lines of "the way you realised that 3 x 4 is the same a 4 x 3 was fantastic and showed you are really understanding the times tables we have been working on".

The more descriptive the praise and the more genuine feedback is included, the clearer the expected standards to achieve are to the child.

Say it when you mean it

The more you sincerely praise your child the quicker they will learn what it is you want them to learn, it tells them you know the difference between when they have worked hard towards something and when it has come easily.

This is a great tool for directing effort and work ethic. Work with adults shows that they work better with 3 positive interactions for each negative, why would your children be any different? Remember 3:1!

Show As Well As Tell

While verbal praise is fantastic don't forget there are other ways to show appreciation and acknowledgement. Stickers and star charts, well done certificates and personal notes of praise written on the worksheet can be effective forms of praise and motivation for your child.

All the experts agree however that you should not offer cash as a reward as this teaches your child to be motivated by money and not the feeling of success.

Praise Appropriately

Each child is different. What works as powerful praise for one child may not be as powerful for another. Remember the intention is to motivate your child so they find the style that works for them.

For example: some children like to be praised in public where others can see but some children may prefer a quiet acknowledgement of a problem solved well. Structure your praise to make it meaningful to the child.

Spread Your Praise

Remember that all of your children love your praise, so try not to lavish it all on just one child. If a child gets less praise because they don't appear to do so well remember that a bit more appreciation might just be the motivation they need to excel.

But avoid comparing one child to another, each is different with their own collection of strengths and areas to improve. Each deserves to be recognised as such.

Praise is a wonderful tool to not only guide our children on their learning pathway, but also to show our children that we do notice the effort they are putting in-and that we think they are awesome for it!

StayOnTrack Limited 2014