Helping Your Child Overcome Math Anxiety - Kumon

Helping Your Child Overcome Math Anxiety

According to research from the University of Chicago, math anxiety can prompt a response in the brain that is similar to when you experience physical pain. In this recent study of adults, Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and leading expert on math anxiety has determined that the brain areas that register the threat of bodily harm and physical pain are active when a math-anxious individual prepares to do math problems.

This latest research is consistent with additional studies supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education that have shown that math anxiety can begin as early as the first grade. In fact, according to Shelia Tobias, author of Overcoming Math Anxiety, millions of adults have been prevented from developing professional careers in mathematics as a result of their negative experiences from their math anxiety.

But what are some ways you can prevent your children from becoming math-anxious or helping them to overcome their math anxiety?

“Students need active help to become more comfortable with the subject,” Beilock said. One of her recommendations includes having students discuss and write down their concerns and worries before tests, which her research has shown can lead to better performance.

In addition, parents can help ease math anxiety by making sure their children have the tools necessary for their learning style. Everyone is capable of learning, but everyone may not necessarily learn new concepts the same ways. In order for your children to be on the path to success, provide your children with tools they need such as manipulatives or visual aids.

Another way to ease math anxiety is to provide your children with practical applications to show how math is relevant in their everyday lives, such as through cooking, sports and games and problem-solving.  Not only will this help to engage students to think critically, but it will help to promote the real-life value of math skills.

Parents can help ease math anxiety by making math fun by adding humor to the mix through cartoons, jokes and pictures. Using funny examples, cartoon characters and pictures, you could lessen your children’s negative perspective on math. As a result, your children will begin to see math as fun, which will foster their interest in math throughout their lives.

What are some other ways you can help your children overcome math anxiety?