Ways to Overcome Math Anxiety

Math anxiety causes children to fear math. This article offers parents and children tips to overcome the frustration and symptoms that are related to math anxiety.

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Students and adults often fail to understand that you can not just memorize mathematical concepts; you must actually work through problems and comprehend the reasoning behind the math skill.

Other causes for math anxiety include past negative experiences associated with math and traditional classroom teaching methods. Knowing the reasoning behind math anxiety is the first of many steps to get over the fear.

Overcoming Math Anxiety with Understanding

If you homeschool your child or have an active voice in their educational system, the best action to quell math anxiety is changing how they are taught their math skills. Math classrooms should have a positive atmosphere where children can tolerate failure. Teachers and parents are able to create this level of comfort by handling incorrect responses in a positive and optimistic way, showing the student what they did wrong but also what they did correctly.

It is also important to answer the student's 'why?' questions. Since math is not strictly memorization, but also comprehension, it is important that a student understands why they perform certain steps and skills to reach the correct answer. Lastly, the emphasis on the right answer needs to be replaced with extra emphasis on the correct process. Often, a child is able to understand the mathematical processes, but computes an addition or multiplication calculation incorrectly. This leaves them with the wrong answer on a test or homework problem, which makes them frustrated and gives them a feeling of defeat; these students do not realize they understand the math and have merely miscalculated. Emphasizing the process instead of the answer relieves these tensions.

Overcoming Math Anxiety with Games

If your child has an immense fear of math, a great way to immerse them in the skill is through games and household activities. Many children will willingly participate in these activities unaware that they are completing the task that usually gives them great fear and frustration. Examples of 'math games' include cards, Yahtzee, Battleship, Dominoes, and Connect Four. Household activities include cooking, sewing, and home repairs because they all use measurements and problem solving skills.

Be sure to list the math skills they successfully used. By emphasizing how well they executed the mathematical skills, you will be boosting their confidence.

Overcoming Math Test Anxiety

Once your child has increased their confidence in math skills through games and other activities, it is time to work on their test anxiety. Help your child by creating practice tests for them to take. Make sure each major math principle is covered by the practice test but do not make the questions too difficult.

While a parent wants to prepare their child for the upcoming exam, do not make them over prepare. When a student crams for an exam, they end up focusing on memorizing instead of mastering the math principle. Additionally, by putting too much emphasis on the test you are actually fueling their test anxiety.

Prepare your child by letting them know they will likely feel many of these emotions and fears when they are presented with the test. Being aware that a student will feel a certain way during a test will help them handle the emotions. Additionally, it is useful to teach children exercises they can do at the beginning of a math exam. These include breathing exercises, visualization of doing well on the exam, and muscle relaxation exercises. When a child is physically relaxed, much of their anxieties will melt away.

Finally, math anxiety is reduced on test day if the family establishes a set routine. Since it is important for your child's brain to be functioning at full capacity, be sure to feed them a proper breakfast. It is even more effective if you have a set 'test breakfast'.

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