Breaking the Cycle of Math Anxiety
I hate math!!! Have you ever heard your kids say that? I’ve found it written on the bottom of their math assignments. It’s certainly not fun to do math if it causes anxiety for you. I understand that anxiety.
When I was a kid I hated math, too. I just could not get those digits to stick in my brain no matter how hard I tried. It was as if my brain had reverse Velcro to numbers! My parents would try to help me with my math homework and my mind would go completely blank as I tried to pull up the answers. They could not understand why I just wasn’t getting it.
The problem with math anxiety is that the harder someone presses the student to “get it” the more anxious they become and the less they will be able to “get it.” It becomes a vicious cycle.
So how do you break this cycle with your kids?
- Step back and take several deep breaths. Do your best to remain patient with them. Most kids really do want to understand.
- Evaluate whether they have a strong foundation to build on. If a child doesn’t have a good grasp on the basic math facts, all other math concepts are going to be that much harder for them.
- Find a way to make it fun. This may seem like an impossibility at this point. However, there are online math games which may prove to be a life saver. Learninggamesforkids.com has some great ones.
- Try a different teaching approach. It’s possible that your child’s learning style doesn’t match up to the way you are teaching math. Maybe try teaching using songs. There are great math songs to be found on CD and on the internet. You can also try an online interactive approach such as Time4Learning.com.
- Help them build up confidence in their math skills. By taking the pressure away and allowing them to establish a firm foundation in the fundamentals, they will gradually become more confident.
- Realize that not every kid is going to be a math whiz. Some people just don’t have a head for numbers. That doesn’t mean that they don’t need to learn the basics, but it does mean that they should be cut some extra slack. Encourage them in the areas where they do excel.
Hopefully, these suggestions will get your kids on the way to conquering that math anxiety and finding new-found confidence in their math skills. I know these are things I wish my parents had known when they were trying to help me.