Maths Anxiety? What is it, and who does it affect?
As with anything new, students may struggle with learning the fundamentals of math. The difficulty of learning even basic concepts can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Those feelings can compound and manifest both psychologically and physically. They can cause headaches, issues with concentration, memory strain, and feeling anxious. Math anxiety can cause children to experience delay in mastering the basics and their general understanding of math.
However, there are specific steps that you can take to alleviate your child’s anxiety and develop a positive attitude toward maths.
Let's look at the two definitions below:
Learning differences are a big topic that I don't want to get into right now.
Let's look at how maths can be taught in a hands-on way...
There's also some more specific things you can do to reduce your student's maths anxiety. Even those learning differences make a big impact on maths anxiety, many times it's not the case - maths just hasn't been explained properly!
Here's an easy 5 steps to help out:
5 Steps to Relieve Maths Anxiety
1. Practice makes perfect
Allow your child to perfect the basics with practice. If you can recall when the changes in your student’s anxiety began, that is a great place to start. Revisit the concepts that were being taught during that time, as well as any other concepts learned previously. Listen and pay attention to what may have been causing the anxiety. Allow them to repeat the concepts and practice as much as they need to before attempting to proceed to another topic. This creates a solid foundation to build upon for more advanced concepts.
2. Reduce stress from tests
Design a test-taking strategy, tailor-made for your student. Testing has been known to create anxiety for students of all ages. Encountering a question or several that they don’t know the answer to can make children feel anxious, especially if they think they are unable to proceed. Communicate that it is okay to skip questions and revisit them. This will prevent them from dwelling on potential mistakes that may prevent them from moving forward. Learn from them what would make them more comfortable about taking tests and implement those changes accordingly.
3. Change their mindset
Anxiety in any form exists in the mind. When anyone feels anxious, our first thought is to tell them to relax. If math is creating anxiety. how does one relax from the subject? You need to guide them in changing their mindset. Students need to understand that mistakes will happen. It’s easy to become a perfectionist, even as children. Learning early in life that mistakes are apart of the journey can save them trouble long term. Encourage your student to write down their struggles so that you may discuss them.
4. Show them maths in real-life
I was not a huge fan of maths when I started school. Why? Because I couldn’t connect it to my life. When you’re a child, you’re unaware of how most things will fit into your life. Help your child make the connection between math and how it relates to them in the real world. Consider using money as a tool. Money is a tangible way to show a child the basics of math. You can physically move it, add it and subtract it. Not to mention the added bonus of introducing financial math to your child at an early age. Try role-playing with your student with you as the customer and them as the cashier. Find a way that works best for your student to connect maths and their life.
5. Get some extra support
Part of your student’s anxiety may be that the style of teaching isn’t aligned with their style of learning. Some children are visual learners, where they need to see illustrations to connect their thoughts. Other students may work better independently through reading the text and then trying to solve problems. Talk to your student and ask what works best for them. You may not need to do a full overhaul in your instruction but simply add supplemental techniques.
6. Get some extra support
And... an extra tip for success. We know, as parents, we try and be the best of everything for our kids. However, sometimes we need a little more help. Tutoring sessions (online or in-person) may be a beneficial addition. The personalised attention may not only help ease your student’s anxiety but help them excel academically.
Upskilling your knowledge and confidence in teaching is another key to success. If you don't have experience as a maths teacher (most of us don't!) you can join us for our Online Parent Training workshops, which give you the tools, resources and support you need to teach your kids in a better way.
You can check out the Online Parent Trainings here:
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us here or leave your comments below
Hope that helps,
The Team at Maths Australia