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  • Writer's pictureAshley

5 Ways to Encourage Math and Science Confidence In Girls

As an educator, I am constantly thinking about how my attitude or words toward a subject are seen and heard by my students. This is especially true with math and science. As a young kid, I struggled with math. I remember crying at the table during math homework and thinking that I was stupid. I accepted that “I’m just not good at math.” Research shows that’s not true. In fact, many researchers and studies have shown that when it comes to innate abilities, boys and girls are virtually identical.

Math education today is different than in the past (much to the frustration of some). However, the shift is based on the belief that it is more impactful to have a deeper understanding of mathematics, as opposed to rote memorization.

The number of women who are joining the workforce in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers is increasing. However, a gender gap still exists. So what can educators and families of elementary-aged girls do to combat this gap and encourage their girls to love math and science? Well, encourage them in these skills, of course!

Below you will find 5 best practices for encouraging girls to feel confident about math and science.

1. Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is the power of “yet”. You may not be able to do it yet but if you practice and persist, you will be able to. Many girls, much like myself, give up and accept the belief that they just are not cut out for these subjects. That simply is not true. Our goal as educators and families is to help girls understand that gains and mastery in all subjects come through growth, productive struggle, and persistence. Not only is this understanding an integral part of learning, but it is a 21st-century skill that future employers will be looking for.

2. Female Role Models

We know the importance of seeing ourselves represented in books, TV shows, movies, and images. This goes for women who are in STEM fields. Young girls today are encouraged by the women who are already succeeding in these fields. We need to read books about female engineers, use pictures of women in space, and research women who have engineering jobs. Allowing our girls to see women in these elements will encourage them to believe it is possible for them, too.

3. Connect to the Real World

Elementary students often have trouble connecting their school learning to real-world situations. As educators and families, we are responsible for fostering those connections. Some ways to do this include: project-based learning, STEM projects that address real-world problems, and finding members of the community who use these subjects in their careers.

4. Specific Feedback

Gone are the days when a teacher would grade an assignment and simply hand it to the student with a percentage. This type of grading does nothing to help students learn and grow. They need to know what exactly they are doing that needs to be reexamined and what they should continue with. Through this feedback, students have the ability to reflect and problem solve. Families have the opportunity to work through the feedback and struggle with their students, remembering to focus on growth mindset and creating a better understanding.

5. Monitor Your Own Attitudes

Most of us have some judgments we have formed about certain subjects, however, our opinions do not need to be passed to our students and children. I struggled with math, and I do not want other girls to have the same struggle. As I have grown as an educator and suppressed my own feelings towards subjects I have learned more about them, dare I say it, have even started enjoying some of them. I know that if my negative opinion is shown, it gives my students the opportunity to adopt that attitude. I do not want that for them. Please hide your dislike of math, science, and technology from your young learners.

Our girls are looking to us as educators and family members to help them navigate the uncertainty of discovering what they can do. We need to help them believe in themselves and their practiced and learned skills. I encourage you to adopt these best practices with all students, but especially girls!

If you are looking for one-on-one tutoring for math or science, or if you are looking for a small-group class that will boost your child's confidence and skills, head over to our Services page. Helping students find their success and feel confident is always the goal at Keep It Up Tutoring!

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