Math anxiety is a feeling of tension that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and solving mathematical problems in academic situations. Despite knowing how to solve problems, anxiety can cause students to freeze and forget everything they know. Parents should be able to recognize math anxiety in students through signs and symptoms like intense emotional reactions and physiological effects like clumsy hands.
It is impossible to point out only one cause of anxiety, but majorly, anxiety is caused by the fear of being wrong. This is caused by the pressure on students to perform exceptionally well, as performing otherwise means being laughed at by others. Below are guiding tips for teachers and parents to help kids overcome math anxiety.
1. Boost their numeracy skills
Each student has a different learning pace compared to the others. Since the kid’s abilities vary from one child to another, some students may require extra attention to boost their skills. Most of the time, learners will develop math anxiety since they do not have enough knowledge to sit for the test. Parents can help their kids boost their numeracy by involving themselves with the kids’ learning process and hiring elementary math tutors. They can help them work on their homework and complex problems.
Kids feel most comfortable learning from someone familiar, like their parents, making it easy to ask questions and consult on the areas they are having difficulties with. A good math tutor, your child, can trust and rely on is essential in providing additional support to the class work. This will help boost their numeracy skills and confidence in attempting tests.
2. Avoid negative math talks
It is usual for parents to share their experiences in school and how they performed in different subjects. Some parents may knowingly or unknowingly kill their child’s confidence through negative math talks. If your child has difficulties understanding some concepts, do not encourage them by negatively discussing the subject. Some parents kill the kids’ motivation by telling them that math is hard and that they also used to fail in school. This will create a negative math mindset where they believe there is no need to work hard since it is normal for people to fail math.
Instead, parents should always be positive by assuring the kids that it is normal to have difficulties in understanding, but once you are determined and work hard, you will pass. Avoid presenting math as a monster subject meant to torture the kids. Positive talks will ensure that from a young age, the student is interested in learning math and is motivated to work hard to perform at their best. Encourage your kids to have positive affirmations about their performance, like ‘I believe I will do my best and pass the test.’
3. Incorporate technology into the learning process
In recent days technology has made it easy for students all over the world to access learning materials in the vicinity of their homes. If students have a digital technological device connected to the internet, they can access any learning materials. Some websites provide free or paid online programs that offer complete math courses. Enrolling students in such programs will improve their mathematical abilities and confidence.
Other than websites, students can access reference learning materials like youtube videos, where they can get accessible math explanations from some of the best tutors in the world. Students can revisit the same math concept repeatedly until they have a deeper understanding. This will help overcome math anxiety as they will have confidence in their math knowledge.
4. Encourage the students to have organized learning schedules
You have encountered students who study according to their moods and interests. They are like, ‘What do I feel like learning today? Let me study algebra.’ By the time the exams come, the student will only have covered a small percentage of the classwork, including the areas they only felt comfortable tackling. Indeed, they will develop math anxiety when they encounter a complex problem since they do not know how to go about it. They will lose focus during the exam and probably forget what they studied.
Alternatively, encourage the students to organize their learning schedules and be committed to following them. Encourage them to give more time to the areas they are having difficulties. An organized math learning schedule will help organize learners’ thoughts and ensure they understand all the concepts taught. This will help with time management and enhance their mathematical abilities.
5. Develop a personalized learning schedule for the student
Personalized learning is a tutoring technique based on students’ abilities, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and interests. Personalized learning ensures that the students learn at their own pace through a one-step-at-a-time approach. The approach encourages tackling math problems slowly till you are sure the student has understood the concept. The approach is practical for slow-paced students who need help keeping up with the teachers in class. Educators can adopt the approach by subdividing the entire course into smaller sections to be done slowly at the students’ pace till they have grasped the concept.
This will keep the students engaged and interested in continuous math learning while providing math anxiety help at the same time. The more the student feels less pressured, the happier they will be to make even a small achievement in understanding a specific mathematical problem. It is better to take things slowly rather than rush to the end and understand nothing. A deeper and richer understanding is essential in ensuring knowledge retention.
Though math is a deterred subject, dedicated and diligent students ready to accept help can improve their abilities and become top performers. Educators can help the students overcome anxiety by encouraging them to seek help and giving them small rewards for any achievements in math. In return, the student will continue working hard to receive the tips. It is also essential to be patient with slow-paced students and avoid scolding them for making mistakes, as it will discourage them from learning.