Advertising

3 Phrases That Contribute To Math Anxiety In Children

Advertising
3 Phrases That Contribute To Math Anxiety In Children

Math anxiety is a broad term that describes feelings of discomfort, fear and repulsion when faced with a mathematical problem. Many children and adults experience math anxiety in academic environments and in their daily lives. Often children pick up on their parents’ math anxiety and become extremely cautious about completing math tasks at school or in their daily lives. What adults often do not realize is that careless phrases that are being exchanged in front of children can contribute to the onset of math anxiety or to amplify the academic anxieties that a child might have already.

Here are three phrases that many of us have heard while growing up, and ideas on how to re-phrase them!

“I was never good at math when I was at school”

Why we say it:

It is not uncommon to hear successful adults saying the aforementioned phrase almost with a sense of pride, as though they were saying: “I wasn’t good at math, but I am very successful.”

Advertising

What children hear:

“Even the smartest people were not good at math. I have no chance to succeed at all!”

This type of interpretation is especially common in children with low levels of academic confidence or low self esteem.

Say instead:

“When I was at school I found math very challenging, especially algebra. But I didn’t give up and made it through all of my courses.”

Advertising

This formulation accentuates the fact that challenges are just opportunities to succeed and that determination to overcome these challenges is what leads to being successful later in life. This is a positive outlook which also puts the child in the mindset of growing.  Be specific about the challenges you encountered. This also makes your story more relatable for kids.

“Math? That’s too hard!”

Why we say it:

We often exaggerate our statements without considering that children often understand statements literally. We might mean that math is a challenging subject or that it is not our direct specialization, or maybe even the fact that we do not have time or mental energy to focus on math-related projects at the moment. Sometimes a statement like that is intended as a joke or an ice breaker.

What children hear:

“Math!? Impossible!”

Advertising

Children are intuitively looking for role models in adults they see around. Reinforcing that ‘math is too hard to do’ creates a stereotype that anything mathematical is not even worth approaching.

Say instead:

“Math?! I’m up for a good challenge!”

This statement creates the feeling of excitement and curiosity instead of shutting the door on math altogether. You don’t need to pretend that math comes easily to you if it simply doesn’t. you just need to convey the message that even if a task is hard there are no reasons to avoid it.

Advertising

“Math is not my thing. It’s only for geniuses.”

Why we say it:

Maybe at some point we were looking up to a person who was great at math or maybe such statement is an expression of modesty. However this statement creates a false illusion of ‘elitism’ of math.

What children hear:

“I’m not a genius. Math is not for me.”

Children are taught to be modest, and it is not likely that they will associate themselves with the term ‘genius’. They simply jump to conclusion that math is meant to be accessible only to some unreachable intellectual ‘elite’ that they do not belong to. This brings about feelings of isolation, which hinders social and academic development.

Advertising

Say instead:

“I used to know a gentleman who lived next door from me, he became quite interested in math as a college student. Now he is a famous architect.”

Recall a story that personalizes math and mathematicians for your child. Referring to someone you and your child are familiar with. This instills the idea that mathematics is accessible for anyone who is willing to put their mind to it.

More by this author

Mariya Boyko

Mathematics teacher, curriculum developer

Quick Ricotta Pumpkin Pie Recipe 4 Steps to Teach Kids about Experiencing and Expressing Their Emotions 5 Things To Do in 5 Spare Minutes 5 Steps to Get Creative Again Start a Project You Have Been Putting Off in Just 5 steps

Trending in Child Education

1 Research Finds The Effects Of Homework On Elementary School Students, And The Results Are Surprising 2 5 Tips For Teaching Money Management To Children 3 If You Want Your Kids To Be Successful, Don’t Protect Them In This Way 4 Helpful Things Your Child Should Learn Before They Turn 18 5 The Lessons Chess Can Teach Your Children

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 5, 2022

How to Help Your Child to Get Better Grades

Advertising
How to Help Your Child to Get Better Grades

Children are most likely to say that they want to just lounge around or rest for a while after spending hours listening to lecture after lecture from their teachers. There is nothing wrong with this if they had a rough day.

What’s disturbing, is if they deliberately stay away from schoolwork or procrastinate when it comes to reviewing for their tests or completing an important science project.

When it seems that it is becoming a habit for your child to put off school work, it’s time for you to step in and help your child develop good study habits to get better grades. It is important for you to emphasize to your child the importance of setting priorities early in life. Don’t wait for them to flunk their tests, or worse, fail in their subjects before you talk to them about it.

Advertising

You can help your children hurdle their tests with these 7 tips:

1. Help them set targets

Ask your child what they want to achieve for that particular school year. Tell them to set a specific goal or target. If they say, “I want to get better grades,” tell them to be more specific. It will be better if they say they want to get a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Having a definite target will make it easier for them to undertake a series of actions to achieve their goals, instead of just “shooting for the moon.”

2. Preparation is key

At the start of the school year, teachers provide an outline of a subject’s scope along with a reading list and other course requirements. Make sure that your child has all the materials they need for these course requirements. Having these materials on hand will make sure that your child will have no reason to procrastinate and give them the opportunity to study in advance.

Advertising

3. Teach them to mark important dates

You may opt to give them a small notebook where they can jot down important dates or a planner that has dates where they can list their schedule. Ask them to show this to you so you can give them “gentle reminders” to block off the whole week before the dates of an exam. During this week, advise your child to not schedule any social activity so they can concentrate on studying.

4. Schedule regular study time

Encourage your child to set aside at least two hours every day to go through their lessons. This will help them remember the lectures for the day and understand the concepts they were taught. They should be encouraged to spend more time on subjects or concepts that they do not understand.

5. Get help

Some kids find it hard to digest or absorb mathematical or scientific concepts. Ask your child if they are having difficulties with their subjects and if they would like to seek the help of a tutor. There is nothing wrong in asking for the assistance of a tutor who can explain complex subjects.

Advertising

6. Schedule some “downtime”

Your child needs to relax from time to time. During his break, you can consider bringing your child to the nearest mall or grocery store and get them a treat. You may play board games with them during their downtime. The idea is to take his mind off studying for a limited period of time.

7. Reward your child

If your child achieves their goals for the school year, you may give them a reward such as buying them the gadget they have always wanted or allowing them to vacation wherever they want. By doing this, you are telling your child that hard work does pay off.

Conclusion

You need to take the time to monitor your child’s performance in school. Your guidance is essential to helping your child realize the need to prioritize their school activities. As a parent, your ultimate goal is to expose your child to habits that will lay down the groundwork for their future success.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Read Next