Published at Thursday, May 09th 2019. by Vedetta Besnard in math worksheet.

“If you’re not as confident about math, or you had some difficulty in that growing up, then trying to pass along that knowledge to kids can be really anxiety-provoking,” acknowledges Dr. Pagirsky. Still, you are probably better at math than you realize because our everyday lives require a lot of math reasoning. So give yourself some credit, and think about ways that you can introduce math concepts to children in a fun and accessible way.

“For kids who have better verbal abilities, just being able to talk out their strategy and give a good explanation of what they want to do and how they should solve it, and maybe getting corrective feedback along the way, can be really helpful,” says Dr. Pagirsky. Similarly, students can write out their strategy during homework or a test. In this approach students are walking themselves through how to think about the problem, at their own pace and in language they might feel more comfortable in. With this technique they might find that they understand more than they realize about how to solve the problem, and switching to a more verbal approach helps them think more clearly.

Because math anxiety affects many people and is related to poor math skills, it is important to understand when and how math anxiety first appears, what is happening in the brain when people are feeling anxious about math, and how to best help people with math anxiety.

When people are feeling anxious, it becomes harder for them to access their working memory because they are preoccupied with their fear. This preoccupation drains the cognitive resources they would otherwise have at their disposal. There is a lot of research to back this up, including research specifically about math anxiety. For example, in a 2001 study by Mark Ashcraft and Elizabeth Kirk, people with math anxiety exhibited a pronounced decline in working memory capacity when tested on a computation-based task but no decline on a verbal-based task, indicating that their working memory was only compromised when their math anxiety was triggered.

Just like it’s a good idea to read to your children, it’s also a good idea for you to do math together. Of course, parents often have their own anxieties about math. As with any other kind of anxiety, it’s important to try not to pass on your fears to your children.

“You become sort of worried or heightened and then you get that vicious cycle going where you underperform because you’re anxious,” explains Dr. Pagirsky. “Then you think: ‘Here’s proof that I’m not good at this!’ which reinforces the belief.”

Many parents have a fixed belief in their own math abilities. They may feel uncomfortable with math themselves, let alone how to develop the skills in a young child. Teaching math theories to children can be facilitated by understanding how they learn and make sense of math. Current studies reveal preschoolers are capable of grasping how to count, add and subtract, if questions are asked in the right way.

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