6 Tips for Overcoming Mathematics Anxiety

overcoming math anxiety

Mathematics can produce feelings of dread and anxiety for many children. The thought of solving a complicated sum, or performing mental calculations in front of other people, is often enough to bring on the sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, and a feeling of insecurity and inadequacy.

Research shows that mathematics anxiety can begin as early as the first grade, so it’s important that parents take early measures to prevent their child from developing negative feelings about mathematics.

Here are six ways parents can help their child to overcome mathematics anxiety, and how to help young children develop a positive attitude towards numbers and arithmetic early on.

1. Don’t let your own anxieties get in the way

As adults, many of us have our own insecurities about mathematics, and aren’t afraid to express it. This can send the wrong message to your child, for example: ‘If my parent doesn’t need mathematics, then I don’t’, or ‘If adults think mathematics is hard, then there’s no hope for me.’ Try to avoid talking negatively about mathematics and be conscious of how your perceptions can unintentionally impact your child’s confidence.

2. Embrace mistakes

Avoid getting frustrated or putting a big red X over an incorrect answer. Instead of saying ‘No that’s wrong’, you can say, ‘Let’s work this out together.’ Ask your child to show you how they have tried to solve a problem and say, ‘What might happen if we try this instead?’ A good idea is to use different shaded pencils to show different strategies. Mistakes are a natural and integral part of learning, and it’s important for your child to understand that. Assure your child that even you make mistakes from time to time.

3. Be positive

Positive reinforcement is a valuable tool for helping struggling children to build their confidence and stay motivated to learn. It’s about reinforcing what they do right, rather than focusing on what they do wrong. When your child sits down to solve a sum or shows determination towards understanding a particular skill or concept, be sure to reward your child with encouragement, praise, a smile, or even a hug.

4. Try an online mathematics program

Online learning programs are a fantastic way to build your children’s confidence in in the familiar and nurturing home environment. A research-based education program like Mathseeds is designed to match your child’s individual ability and progress at their own pace with interactive, one-on-one lessons. Online programs are also great for motivating children to learn and improve, with rewards, vibrant animations, and entertaining songs.

5. Express fears in writing

Researchers have found that expressive writing can be an effective tool in helping children overcome feelings of anxiety. In one study, a group of students who were asked to write about their fears before an exam were able to improve their average grade from around a B- to a B+. You can encourage your child to list words to describe how mathematics makes them feel. You can even help them to write a story about a character that overcomes a fear of mathematics, and winds up learning to enjoy it!

6. Relate mathematics to real-life situations

Encourage your child to see how mathematics can be applied to real-life situations, and why it’s so important. This will allow their natural sense of curiosity to take over their fears. Your child will become more eager to learn, ask questions, and look out for more opportunities to show you how well they’ve grasped key concepts. You can integrate mathematics into everyday activities such as shopping, creating a weekly budget, and cooking. Read more ways to help your child apply mathematics to real world situations here.

Mathseeds is the comprehensive online mathematics program that makes learning fun for children aged 3 to 8. It includes interactive games, activities, lessons and rewards that help children learn early mathematical skills and concepts. You can sign up for your free trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs today.

Free Halloween Themed Math Worksheets for Kids

free halloween worksheets

Halloween is just around the corner, and we’ve got the perfect treat to help your early math learner get into the spirit of this year’s spooky season!

Enjoy FREE Halloween-themed math worksheets for your little one, spanning Kindergarten to Grade 2. What better way to help your child prepare for counting their Halloween candy this year?

Download FREE Kindergarten Worksheets

free math worksheets

Download FREE Grade 1 Worksheets

free maths worksheets

Download FREE Grade 2 Worksheets

free math activities for kids

Our free worksheets cover essential early math concepts in a fun and highly engaging way for young learners. There are three sets of worksheets available, covering topics such as addition, number sequence, patterns, time, length, mass, subtraction, word problems, 2D and 3D shapes, data and more.

We hope you enjoy our special Halloween-themed treat with your child this year. Happy learning!

Mathseeds is the fun online mathematics program for children aged 3-6. Your child will work through a sequence of highly engaging online math games and activities designed to build essential early numeracy and problem solving skills.

Claim your free trial of Mathseeds, as well as Reading Eggs, the multi-award winning online reading program for kids.

8 Daily Activities to Teach Your Child to Use Mathematical Language

number talk with toddler

SPECIAL TRIAL OFFER: Start your free trial of Mathseeds today, as well as the multi-award winning online reading program for early learners, Reading Eggs.

Parents usually spend a lot of time talking to their children about letters, sounds and words. This often comes naturally as we sit down to read a book together in the evenings, or point out to words when we’re out and about, such as on billboards and street signs.

But studies show that talking about numbers and using mathematical language with our toddlers is just as important. In fact, many studies suggest that it’s a key predictor of a child succeeding in mathematics when they start school.

Often, parents pay less attention to “number talk” with their children than they do with early literacy concepts. Interestingly, mothers were found to speak to boys about number concepts twice as often as they did with girls.

Parents are encouraged to talk to their toddlers about numbers from an early age, and on a regular basis. Here are eight ways to incorporate number talk into everyday activities to help your child develop an awareness of mathematical language and concepts.

1. Count every day

You can easily turn counting into a fun everyday activity, wherever you go. Count how many birds you spot on an afternoon walk. Or how many red cars you see waiting at the traffic lights. How many chairs are in the doctor’s waiting room, and how many magazines or books? Hold up your fingers when you count and say the numbers out loud. You can even keep a notebook and pen ready to keep a tally.  

2. Have fun solving puzzles

Board games and puzzles are a fun and challenging way to introduce your toddler to mathematical language. Family board games like Chinese Checkers, Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land are all great ways to build your toddler’s understanding of numbers. Every time you roll a dice, read the number out loud and count the squares as you move your playing piece across the board. Puzzles (e.g. wooden shape puzzles) can help toddlers build their shape recognition and understanding of spatial concepts. Encourage your toddler to name different shapes as they play, and tell you if a certain shape is “too big” or “too round” to fit.

3. Pretend play

There is a wealth of educational benefits derived from imaginative play. Your child may enjoy pretending to be a shop keeper, and ask you to purchase items from their “shop”. Or they may like to pretend to be a scientist or a wizard cooking up secret potions in their hidden laboratory. Wherever your child’s imagination takes them, there is sure to be an opportunity to incorporate mathematical language. You can create or buy props for your child, such as play money for shop tills, plastic fruit for pretend groceries, or a simple measuring cup for mixing potions. If they invite you to take part, encourage them to tell you how many fruits they are selling, whether they can give you three of each vegetable, or how much more liquid should go into their secret potion.

4. Sort objects

Encourage your child to observe similarities and differences between objects to classify and sort them into categories. For example, if you’re helping them to put their toys away, ask them to sort all their toys by categories such as “toy cars”, “stuffed animals” or “block shapes”.  You can also do this while tidying. Ask your child to collect objects that need to be put away and sort them into categories (e.g. “paper” or “plastic”). Ask them how many objects they have collected for each group, or to point to a group with a certain number of items. This may even be a good opportunity to use spatial language, such as “put the red cars next to the blue cars”, or “put the small cup inside of the big cup”.

5. Make use of the ruler, measuring tape, and measuring cup

Have fun with your child measuring objects around the house, and reading out or recording measurements. A fun bath time activity involves collecting differently sized jars, cups and containers to teach your child about ‘full’ and ‘empty’, and compare capacities. Talk about what’s happening as you play. For example, “My cup is full, no more water can fit in my cup”, or “Let’s pour water from my small cup to your big cup and see if it becomes full”.

6. Point out numbers wherever you go

Point out numbers on street signs or number plates when you’re sitting in traffic with your child. Point them out and ask them to identify the numbers, or read them out for them yourself. You can also ask your child to show the numbers with their fingers, and encourage them to do this in different ways. For example, showing the number five may involve holding up two fingers on one hand, and three on the other.

7. Online learning resources

Online learning has become a big part of modern day education in the past decade, and technological devices can offer a fun, interactive and valuable early learning tool for toddlers. Many online mathematics resources are designed to be highly engaging and easy to use for preschool-aged children, and introduce them to early learning concepts in a fun and play-based way. Mathseeds is designed to teach children aged 3-6 how to count, identify patterns and shapes, and understand basic problem solving concepts.

8. Be conscious of using “number talk” regularly

Try to solve problems using mathematics in front of your child to help them make connections between mathematics and everyday life. For example, when you’re cooking read aloud each step and measure the quantities accordingly for your child to see. Use numbers when you refer to time, dates, and temperatures. How many hours and minutes until dinner? How many weeks and days until school? Is the temperature going to be higher or lower this weekend?

For more fun mathematics ideas to do with your toddler, read 10 fun ways to build early numeracy skills here.

Mathseeds is the fun online mathematics program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early numeracy and problem solving skills.

SPECIAL TRIAL OFFER: Claim your free trial of Mathseeds today, as well as the multi-award winning online reading program for young children, Reading Eggs.

10 Things Your Child Should Know Before Starting School

Get your child ready for kindergarten

It’s perfectly natural to feel anxious about sending your child off to big school; as a parent, you want to be absolutely certain that your little one is fully prepared to adapt to a classroom environment, make new friends, and be able to clearly communicate their needs to their teacher whenever they need help.

But when it comes to specific skills and knowledge, many parents are surprised by how much their child is expected to know before starting school. Research shows that children who are well-prepared for their first year of school have a much better chance of settling in and succeeding in school, giving them a significant head start for later years.

Your child’s school should be able to provide you with a list of things they will be expected to know before starting. Before you let go of that little hand and send your child off to big school, here are the ten most common things they should know to help them feel confident and ready for their biggest adventure yet.

1. Listen to and follow simple instructions

By the time they start school, most children should be able to listen to and follow two to three part instructions.

What you can do: Give your child daily tasks around the house, like putting away their toys or setting the table for breakfast in the morning. Use two-part instructions like, “Pick up your toys and put them in the box.” and three-part instructions like, “Put the spoons, cups and napkins onto the table.”

2. Communicate their needs

Children should be able to clearly communicate their needs, especially to their teacher.

What you can do: Encourage your child to speak in complete sentences of five to six words, such as “I would like some water, please.” or “I need help with this word.” Always encourage them to explain how they are feeling: “I am hungry.” “My leg hurts”. “I would like to play outside.”

3. Dress and feed themselves

Children should feel comfortable managing their own clothes (e.g. zippers and buttons). They should also know how to open a juice container and unwrap their own food. It’s also at this age that children learn how to tie their shoes, though some won’t get the hang of it until around age six.

what does my child need to know before kindergarten

What you can do: Help your child practise dressing themselves each morning until they can do it independently. This includes zipping pants, buttoning shirts, putting on socks and taking off gloves and jackets. Teach your child how to open food packaging and praise them for doing a “big boy” or “big girl” job.

4. Share toys with others and take turns

A big part of starting school is about getting along well with others, completing a task or project through teamwork, and treating others with respect.

What you can do: Play board games at home to help your child become familiar with taking turns. If you have more than one child, encourage them to work on projects and tasks together at home.

5. Understand and retell simple stories

In their first year of school, children should be able to listen to and understand five to ten minute stories. Most will be able to retell simple stories that they have heard, and some may even begin telling original stories.

What you can do: If you don’t have a regular reading routine at your house, it’s never too late to start. Numerous studies have found that children who are read to regularly at home will have a much better chance at succeeding in school overall. Encourage your child to retell stories you have read by drawing pictures, using puppets, and role-playing.

6. Match and sort objects

Children should be able to match and sort objects by simple attributes, such as shape, colour and function (e.g. food, clothes, things you can cook with).

fun maths games

What you can do: Use books, songs, and play guessing games that teach your child about opposites. This will help them understand that objects can be identified by their attributes. To help your child sort, you need at least two different types of objects. Start with fewer categories (sorting by two types) and gradually progress to three, four or more. Slowly demonstrate each sort before asking your child to have a go.

7. Identify basic patterns, shapes and colours

These foundational skills will help your child develop essential mathematical skills and knowledge.

What you can do: Help your child point out patterns when you’re out together (e.g. in clothing, along a footpath, in a picture) and turn it into a fun game. Hang up colour and shape charts at home and let your child experiment with watercolours, crayons, blocks and playdough or clay to get familiar with colours and shapes.

8. Identify some numbers and understand how numbers are used

By their first year of school, many children will know how to count to at least 30 and tell what number comes before or after a given number to 20.

What you can do: Help your child point out numbers on a regular basis, like on the television, in books, on a keypad or on a phone. There are also many children’s books and online games like Mathseeds that teach children to count. Show your child how numbers are used in everyday activities, like following a recipe, keeping score during a game, or counting, measuring and weighing objects.

9. Identify letters, and begin to understand that letters stand for the sounds heard in words

Most children who start school will know the letters in the alphabet, and begin to understand the correlation between sounds and letters. Some children will be able to spell and write the letters in their name. Children should be able to also identify words that rhyme, which is an indicator of phonemic awareness, one of the five key aspects of learning to read.

What you can do: Use alphabet charts that include uppercase and lowercase versions of each letter. Games like letter races, matching rhymes and phonics hop-scotch are all great ways to build your child’s understanding of the relationship between letters and their sounds.

10. Begin to identify some sight words

Learning to identify and read sight words is crucial for young children to become fluent readers. Most children will be able to master a few sight words at the age of four (e.g. is, it, my, me, no, see, and we) and around 20 sight words by the end of their first year of school.

What you can do: The first 100 high-frequency sight words make up more than fifty per cent of primary level reading texts, so the sooner your child masters sight words, the more confidence they will have, and the faster they will progress towards reading fluently. Read three fun activities to learn sight words. While learning a handful of sight words before school is highly beneficial for developing early reading skills, parents shouldn’t be too worried if their child doesn’t grasp this until later.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.

6 Telltale Traits of a Struggling Maths Learner

child struggles math

A child’s ability to grasp early maths concepts can often be observed during their first years of school. While every child is different and learns at their own pace, some children will find it particularly difficult to pick up early maths concepts, even after a little extra work.

If you have serious concerns about your child’s learning, it’s best to speak to a professional to rule out any learning disabilities or developmental disorders such as dyscalculia, which is a severe difficulty in learning and comprehending arithmetic.

Here are six common signs of a struggling early maths learner, and what you as a parent can do to support your child’s development:

1. Difficulty with skip counting by 10s to 100

Around the age of 6, children begin learning how to skip count. Skip counting helps your child count quickly, and prepares them for learning basic multiplication skills. Skip counting by 10s is easiest, as is very similar to normal counting, except there is an extra ‘0’: 10, 20, 30 … 80, 90, 100.

If your child struggles with skip counting, use a skip counting chart and simple counters (e.g. rocks, pegs or coins) to help them easily see skip counting patterns right in front of them. You can draw up a skip counting chart, or download free templates online.

2. Having trouble counting or grouping objects into sets

At the age of 5-6, children begin to group objects into sets and learn how to count by ones to determine the size of each set.

You can help your child with grouping objects into sets by gathering a range of different objects, such as toy cars, stuffed animals, books, block shapes, fruit and vegetables, and placing them on a table. Explain that each group of objects is a set, and help your child count the objects in each set. Remember, repetition is key.

3. Having trouble spotting patterns

Children begin to learn and spot patterns from as young as the age of 2. Much of these observations come from their play and daily routines, for example, learning that there is an order to the day, or creating sequences using craft items or building blocks.

Patterns can be taught in a variety of fun ways, such as matching socks, sorting kitchen items by category, and bead-making. Read 5 fun ways to teach your child about patterns.

4. Difficulty with sorting objects

Sorting objects by size, shape or colour is one of the earliest maths skills a child picks up, usually through play. By sorting, children understand that things are alike and different, and that things can belong, and be put into, certain groups.

To help your child sort, you need at least two different types of objects. Start with less categories (sorting by two types) and gradually progress to three, four or more. Slowly demonstrate each sort before asking your child to have a go.

5. Difficulty with writing and pointing out numbers up to 20

By kindergarten, most children will be able to write and point out numbers up to 20.

You can help your child grow familiar with numbers through daily activities. For example, invite your child to dial a telephone number for you when you are using a phone. Point to and read aloud each number as it is being dialled. To help your child write numbers, help them form the shape of each number using different materials, such as clay or paints.

6. Inability to use measurement language to describe objects

At age 5-6, most children are able to understand and use simple measurement language, such as bigger and smaller, longer and shorter, or before and after.

There are many picture books that teach young children how to use simple measurement language. You can also help your child understand measurement language by arranging different objects by size and length. Remember to use measurement language regularly around your child, such as, “This piece of bread is the biggest”, “We don’t eat dessert before dinner”, or “Let’s find a shorter stick than this one”.

Mathseeds is the fun-filled online maths program for ages 3-6 that teaches children early maths concepts. Mathseeds uses interactive games, activities, songs and self-paced lessons to help your child learn and practice essential early maths concepts in a supportive and rewarding way. Sign up for your FREE trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs today.