Math Anxiety

Math Anxiety is real, it is different from general anxiety and has a detrimental impact on math learning. A child who struggles with math goes through an hour of discomfort or outright stress and humiliation each day in school, and this is repeated after school doing math homework.

This usually culminates in feelings of incompetence and failure every six weeks when report cards are going home.

It sets in a downward spiral of anxiety, avoidance and low self esteem, while the teacher and parents push more to get the math work done, not understanding why those few problems can be so troublesome.

The April 2014 article in Teaching Children Mathematics by Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford, tells us that timed tests to assess math facts and fluency are linked to early onset of math anxiety, starting as early as in first or second grade. Brain imaging data from children age seven to nine, who felt panicky about timed math tests, show that during timed testing the brain regions associated with fear were overly active, which goes hand in hand with lower activity in regions for problem solving. Beilock and her colleagues found that when people are stressed, the pressure blocks their working memory, and facts which people are familiar with cannot be recalled. Read the full article:

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t settle for ‘my child is just not a math person’. Children and adults with dyscalculia can master math when they get special instruction on their level, in their pace in a multisensorial way, combining visual, auditory, sensorial, and kinesthetic learning. Children who struggled initially who received tailored instruction in a positive atmosphere have soared.

Children and adults with dyscalculia may also have symptoms of dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and dysgraphia. Those children need an even more personally tailored approach to learn math.