Ten Ways of Getting Over Fear of Math
- Jun 10, 2016
Ask most school students their least favourite subject and the answer is likely to be math. Ask them why they don't like math, and they just shrug their shoulders.
Given the broad and almost daily use of math in our personal and professional lives, it’s a shame to see that most students go through school having a fear of math. Researchers have coined the term 'mathematical anxiety', which refers to the fear and apprehension students feel when they have to perform math calculations. Math anxiety can be a disabling condition for some students - affect memory, lead to loss of confidence, and even cause panic.
Although not all children experience such an extreme fear of math, the dislike for the subject in most is palpable. If your child fears math, it only stands to reason that they will find it difficult to learn and retain mathematical concepts.
Tips on Overcoming Fear of Math
Both parents and teachers are important influencers and play a vital role in the way a child perceives math. Here is how you can help your child/ student get over their fear of math.
- Make math simple and relatable
When teaching the basic math concepts to young minds, the best approach is to give them real life examples to help them relate to the math problem. For instance, "If you buy ten chocolates, but your mother asks you to give half to your sister, how many would you be left with?". Another example is, "If you put Rs.20 in your piggy-bank every day, how much money would you have at the end of the month?"
- Regular practice
To help your child/ student overcome their fear of math allow them time for daily practice. Some concepts are harder to grasp than others. Let your child feel comfortable with a particular concept before moving on to the next chapter in the textbook. It's also a good idea to revise the last two to three chapters studied, every few weeks. But ensure that you don't make the practise session a drudgery. Encourage students with words of appreciation for accurately remembering concepts.
- Start with smaller problems
To begin with keep the practice sessions short, no more than fifteen minutes a day. Assign just one problem for solving and have a brief discussion on the answer. As your child builds his/her stamina for math and starts grasping the basics, switch to assigning a couple of problems. Gradually, extend the practice sessions to thirty minutes to an hour.
- Encourage students to learn from mistakes
Talking about his many attempts at creating the light bulb, Thomas Edison famously remarked, "I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work".
It's important to let students feel that they can make mistakes without being severely admonished or made to look like a fool. Help your child learn from their mistakes. Instead of scolding your child for an incorrect calculation, assess their problem-solving approach. Ask them to explain how they arrived at the number, and then highlight what they needed to do differently.
- Prepare chapter summary
Encourage your student to make summary notes for each session or chapter. Making summary notes is extremely helpful in understanding the concepts better. It also makes it easier to revise and memorize large quantities of material especially when preparing for an exam.
- Make a study schedule
When preparing for a math exam, help your child to develop a study schedule, listing the dates and chapters. This will ensure that they have enough time to learn for the test and that they are mentally ready to put in the number of hours needed to cover the course. The habit of scheduling can help your youngster tremendously in all subjects, and later in life too.
- Be creative
To learn math, most students focus on the exercises in their textbook, which makes the experience boring. Explore fun math sites such as Math Play Ground and Fun Brain to teach your child the concepts with the help of animated games, fun puzzles, and cool math activities.
Encourage your child to learn music. Music and math are intimately connected; research shows that children who play a musical instrument are more likely to be better at performing complicated arithmetical operations than children who do not play any musical instrument.
- Share how learning math can help
It's important for students to understand the benefits of knowing basic math. For instance, mental math can help them calculate prices and total cost while shopping, fractions are useful when baking a cake, decimals help in understanding interest rates and loan repayments, and measuring skills come in handy in sewing and woodwork.
A child in sixth or seventh standard often does not know what subject they will opt for in class eleventh or what will be their choice of undergraduate course. Higher math is needed if the student decides to pursue science, commerce, or medicine. Even if there is a chance that your child might want to study one of these fields, a solid foundation of math becomes essential.
- Dispel any misconceptions
Sometimes students are victims of their preconceived notions –
' It's too hard; math is only for the bright kids.'
' I come from a family that is terrible at math.'
' I will have no use for math because they wish to pursue a non-science course, and so what's the point of working hard at it.'
Therefore, they believe that maths is a subject they will always struggle with, or that there is no sense in working hard.
The classroom is an ideal place to debunk such negative notions. Students should be made to realise that regardless of their background, gender, or future career path, Maths is an important subject they can learn with hard work. Educate your student on the many daily applications of math both in personal and professional life.
- Hire a private tutor
If your child continues to struggle with the subject, it's time to hire a math tutor. Learning math from a person who is not their teacher or parent, can give children the confidence to ask questions without the fear of being judged.
To begin with, hire the tutor for Math homework help for a few days. If you feel that your child can grasp the concepts well with the aid of the math tutor, hire the tutor for regular math tuition.
With LearnPick, your search for a private tutor has never been simpler. Post your math tuition requirement on our website and have math tutors contact you. You can also choose to hire a private tutor for online math tutoring to save your child a lot of time commuting.
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