How To Build Confidence In Students
Updated: May 20
Confidence is one of the most important aspects of studying Maths. Especially at a younger (primary school) age.
In fact, confidence is easily the single most prevalent reason that parents seek out a tutor for their child.
It separates the students who enjoy Maths from the ones who resent it. Which is why we, as Maths tutors, will always make it a priority to help build a student’s confidence as quickly as possible. And, luckily, there are a few tricks to help some of those younger students along.
Easy ways to build confidence in young students
1. Build confidence by starting with easy questions
Confidence comes partly from skill, but mostly from experience. When students go through less challenging questions, they find themselves understanding effortlessly. Which in turn makes them feel ready to tackle some of the more problematic questions that come their way.
This may seem like such a simple strategy, but don’t overlook it – giving young students a confidence boost here can make a huge difference in problems later.
Downplay the differences between easy and hard questions
A hard Maths question is just an easy question with a twist. Try to help your student focus on the similarities to previous (easy) questions, rather than focusing on the differences. If students feels like a problem is close to one that they find easy, it’s much less of a stretch to ask them to add in an extra step.
Try not to let your students focus on the aspects that make the question hard – teach them how to handle the curveball, and otherwise let them work they way they were already working.
Don’t set too many “trap” questions
A student’s confidence will take the biggest hit in situations where they thought they nailed it.
Trap questions are good every now and then to keep students on their toes, but it can be all too easy to abuse them.
Try not to constantly undermine your student’s skills with these tricky questions. Present them in an obvious way that allows you to teach your student how to navigate the challenging aspects, before trying to trick them. No good will come of giving a student a question that they had no hope of answering.
With confidence high, results will follow
Eventually. It will take time. But the fact is, with confidence comes excitement and passion. Students hate to feel like they aren’t doing a good job, and it can be all too easy for Mathematics to become a subject that causes this effect.
But with the right attitude, Maths typically becomes a strength rather than a weakness. This is one of the reasons that I recommend that parents don’t mention to their kids that they didn’t like Maths growing up (click here to read that article).
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or tutor, these simple ideas can create a monumental change in your student’s perception of Maths in school