If you’re hesitant to get started on one of the most powerful practices to help kids build math and critical thinking, I’ve got some tips to overcome the challenges of math talks.

As a former teacher and mom of two, I’ve encountered and overcome these hurdles.

Here’s how you can do the same, ensuring that your math discussions are productive and engaging for all participants.

If you're hesitant to get started on one of the most powerful practices to help kids build math and critical thinking, I've got some tips to overcome the challenges of math talks.

Setting Expectations and Boundaries

Kids often get excited and want to shout out answers or interrupt others.

To maintain order and respect during math talks, you’ll need a system that signals when a child wants to speak without disrupting the current speaker.

Solution: Hand Signals

Teach your kids a hand signal that lets you know they want a turn to share.

A thumbs-up close to their chest works well.

This discreet signal allows kids to indicate their readiness without distracting others.

Practice this routine consistently so that it becomes second nature to your students or children.

Normalizing Mistakes

It’s natural to want to correct mistakes immediately, but the essence of math talks is to let kids explore their reasoning.

As a teacher and parent, it can often be difficult to let a child express how they came up with an “answer” that is “wrong”.

This is where you get to flip your perspective and LET the kids express their reasoning even if it’s wrong!

Often, they will self-correct as they articulate their thought process.

Normalize making mistakes by treating them as learning opportunities.

This encourages kids to take risks and engage more deeply in the discussions.

Solution: Encourage Peer Interaction

Instead of correcting mistakes right away, allow the child to explain their reasoning. Then, invite another peer to share their thoughts.

For homeschool parents with only one child, you can step in as the role model and share your thoughts after your child has had the chance to express theirs.

If you're hesitant to get started on one of the most powerful practices to help kids build math and critical thinking, I've got some tips to overcome the challenges of math talks.

Generating Engaging Questions

One of the biggest challenges in conducting daily math talks is coming up with new, fun, and relevant, questions.

Solution: Utilize Pre-Made Resources

Consider using pre-made resources like the Little Learning Corner themed math talks.

These resources provide a year’s worth of fun and thought-provoking math discussions, saving you time and effort in preparation.

👉 Preschool Math Talks

👉 Kindergarten Math Talks

👉 First Grade Math Talks

Conclusion

Math talks can be a transformative practice in developing students’ mathematical thinking and communication skills.

By setting clear expectations, allowing kids to explore their reasoning, using pre-made resources for questions, and creating a supportive environment, you can overcome the initial challenges and foster a rich, engaging learning experience.

Whether you’re a teacher or a homeschool parent, these strategies will help you navigate the complexities of math talks and make them an enjoyable part of your educational routine.

Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy:

How to Do Math Talks with Different Age Groups

Free April Math Talks

Nursery Rhyme Crafts for Kids

If you're hesitant to get started on one of the most powerful practices to help kids build math and critical thinking, I've got some tips to overcome the challenges of math talks.