There’s a big reason why most of us hate math. Not even children, adults too. The reason behind fear of math or generally known as “math anxiety” is when someone experiences feelings of stress whenever they are faced with math-related situations – not just in the classroom, but also at home and everywhere else.
The roots of math anxiety begins when a person has bad experience with math such as not being able to master the subject in school which will later progress into adulthood. The thing is, most of our encounters with math outside
of school, only involve basic mathematics such as counting change of money and estimating time.
Normally, those who experience math anxiety generally have this belief that they are simply not born with the skills or talent to do math which makes them withdraw themselves from math entirely. Newsflash: Being able to do maths is not a “gift” that some has to be born with – maths is a learned skill that requires patience, diligence, and practice.
Similarly, this fear prevailed among children who seem to trouble grasping early mathematical concepts such as additions and subtractions. It has been shown that children with math anxiety are less likely to pursue interests or career paths relating to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM, which is one of the emerging trends of education in the 21st century and its skills are some of the most demanded skills that employers seek for when hiring. From knowing this, parents should understand that dismissing math anxiety among their children is important to ensure a bright and promising future for them.
So, how do you prevent your child from developing math-anxiety?
1- Encourage Mistakes
One of the most obvious reasons as to why people hate math is its rigidity. This is math in its natural form. Every single mathematical equation will always have one definite answer which leaves no room for mistakes and miscalculations. However, as parents, you can entirely dismantle this belief by fostering a supportive learning environment with your children at home.
Whenever your child is struggling to complete a math assignment or homework, provide help but at the same time, allow them to figure out the answers by themselves. Whenever you see a mistake, don’t punish them. Instead offer them tips and tricks on the different ways to approach the mathematical questions. Reinforce rewards for correct answers to inculcate positive feelings regarding math.
2- Dispel Math Myths
One of the biggest myths in math is what I’ve mentioned earlier which is believing that being able to do math is a gift that someone has to be born with. This is a completely false belief – just like learning to speak a certain language: a person is not born with the ability to speak the language on their own but slowly picks up the language by being
around people who speak the language.
Similar to math, a person can only master math with practice and repetition. Whenever your child feels discouraged from not being able to understand a mathematical concept, reassure them that it is okay and completely normal for someone to not be able to understand new knowledge for the first time.
3- We Can Do Math!
Always be encouraging to your children and reinforce to them the idea that “everybody can do math” and “math is not a talent, it is a learned skill that takes practice to master”.
4- Approach Math Differently
Mathematical equations might have definite answers but there are a plethora of ways to find the answers! Invest in math kits, toys, and games for your children to practice their math skills at home. This instills the idea that math is a fun subject instead of an intimidating one.
The Alfa and Friends’ Euler Maths programme offers various mathematical tools such as counting sticks and number bond beads to ease children’s comprehension and acquisition of mathematics. You can approach your child’s school and suggest them to incorporate math programmes for preschool such as Euler Maths for the benefit of your child and other children too.
5- Apply Math in Real Life
As I’ve said, math can be found everywhere. Show your child that math is part and parcel of life, so there is nothing to be afraid of. Simple things in life such as a trip to the grocery store can be mathematical too – ask your child to count the number of fruits in the trolley or count the number of cashier counters that are open.
Even routine tasks incorporate basic math such as asking them to count the buttons on their shirt or the number of steps on the stairs and many more. The more you integrate math in your child’s daily life, the more confidence they will have to face math in school.
Of course, there are plenty of alternative strategies to instill confidence in math within your child, but the foundations of math mastery is built on repetition, memorization, and practice. All you have to do, as a parent, is make the process as fun as possible – your child will soon find math to be a piece of cake!