6 Ways to Diffuse Math Anxiety
The word math strikes fear into the hearts of many students. But just like with any anxiety, its impact can be lessened.
Here are some ways you can help your child if he or she struggles with math anxiety:
Believe that their fear is real. As this Mind/Shift article points out, math anxiety lights up the same parts of the brain as does a fear of spiders or snakes. To these kids, math is really, truly scary. Trust the reality of their feelings.
Practice math facts with them. I find that a good amount of math anxiety has its roots in being slow or making errors with math facts.
Encourage your child to slow down when working out problems. Many of the mistakes students make in math happen because they try to do their work too quickly.
Create a list of the ways they’re good at math. Students always have an area of math they understand. Maybe they’re a whiz at their sevens in multiplication or they understand how to find the area of a rectangular prism. Make a list of the things they do know how to do. Then emphasize that it’s not that they are bad at math or that all of math is hard, but that the skills they are learning right now are challenging.
Have your child write out their feelings. Before they tackle their math homework, ask your child to write for a few minutes about their feelings around math. Let them know everything they want to write is fine, even if they want to say they hate math and it sucks. This will validate their feelings and allow them to get their feelings off their mind, which will create space to do the work.
Get help. If you’re doing math tutoring with me, you have this one covered. You can also inquire about math groups or extra math help at your child’s school. Often, having another adult in the picture significantly reduces everyone’s stress.