Math is a subject that many kids find difficult. It seems for a lot of children you either have a natural knack for math or you don’t. However, even a child that is struggling in this area can make very good progress with the right strategies in place. For some children it’s not a matter of “being bad at math” but simply more of needing a flexible teaching approach to the subject.

Here are a few tips to help your child develop their math skills:

#1 – Don’t push too hard. It’s worth keeping in mind that some children can create an inner mental block when it comes to math. If they believe they just “don’t get it” it will be difficult to help them learn and understand the basic concepts.

Help your child relax by offering a lot of praise and letting them know that they will eventually understand the subject; it’s just a matter of practicing and applying. Try to avoid negative language such as “you won’t get into college unless you pass your math exam.” While this may be true, it can be a very daunting and frightening thought for children.

Instead concentrate on positive approaches such as explaining to your child that there’s a set formula to understanding math and that it’s not really a mystery – simply a matter of getting the formula right. Then let them know you’ll help them until they “crack the code.” By giving your child the confidence to believe that they will eventually understand the topic, you take a lot of pressure off them. In turn they may just surprise you with their progress.

#2 – Little and often. With math, as with may other subjects, an approach of little and often works best. For many children the thought of sitting down for even 30 minutes to work on math is daunting. A better option may be to practice their skills in five or ten minute bursts. Studies have shown that the ideal retention time for any new or difficult subject is eight minutes.

By practicing little and often your child may be able to develop their skills better. Another good “trick” is to write basic formulas or times tables on flash cards and let your child practice them several times throughout the days. It may only take three or four minutes but doing this regularly can really make a difference to their skills.

#3 – Use “real life” concepts. One of the best ways to develop math skills early on is to simply get a basic “real life” concept of numbers. You can easily do this by letting your child count coins or money from a young age. Did you know that because much of our money is electronic nowadays, children often can’t even recognize coins or actual money? Help your child get to grips with money by exposing them to counting and handling money early on.

Another fun and fantastic option for developing number skills is by playing games. Games like bingo, monopoly and even puzzles really develop critical skills that help with number skills. It’s a great opportunity for families to spend time together and learn. The children will simply think they’re having fun (and they will be) but they will also be learning valuable number concepts.

Helping your child with math can seem like a daunting prospect, but with these simple but effective tips you can make a big difference to your child’s skills.