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.

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.