Math is introduced to young kids as early as preschool and kindergarten. Math lessons begin by teaching children basic numerals and counting, and gradually progressing to addition, subtraction, and more advanced lessons. While some children find math fun and pleasantly challenging, others may not find math to be as enjoyable. Some children even experience a real sense of math anxiety.
Math anxiety is the fear or worries about math. It can be a debilitating problem that prevents some children from learning or excelling in mathematics, which can, in turn, create a vicious cycle in which they struggle academically and even socially at times. Fortunately, there are several ways parents can help their kids overcome this challenge. Take a look at these tips!
Promote math as a fun and important part of life
Kids who believe they can achieve in math may be less likely to experience anxiety because they see math as useful or enjoyable. You can introduce new topics in ways that aren’t overwhelming to kids. Consider using fun games, toys, videos, and other methods to teach them the basics of number concepts.
There are plenty of games you can play to make learning math concepts more fun and less daunting. For example, you can choose number-centric games such as Monopoly. You can also include common household items to learn about numbers and show the practical application of mathematics in our daily lives. For instance, when you’re setting the table for dinner, enlist the help of your child by asking them to place the correct number of spoons and forks on the table. Doing so will help them come to realize that math may not be so scary after all.
Be mindful of your attitude towards math
If you have a negative opinion about math, your kids are likely to pick up on it. Try to recall if there has been a time when your child has heard you talk about math in a negative light. If they have, now is the best time to change your attitude towards math, or at least be less vocal about your sentiments in the presence of your children. Your child is watching and learning from you, and if you want to encourage their enthusiasm about numbers and problem-solving, it’s more helpful to talk about the fun and exciting aspects of math.
Just because your child dreads working with numbers doesn’t mean you should let him or her avoid numbers altogether. In fact, there’s no better way to help reduce math anxiety than by confronting the fear of numbers early on. Practice is essential. Therefore, make it a habit to practice with your child. From counting to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, repetition and practice are key to mastering these skills. Squeeze in math concepts any chance you get. Invite your child to add up the prices of the items in your grocery cart, or ask random math questions during car rides. The more your child practices and does math problems, the less anxiety-inducing it becomes.
Abandon the belief that some people are just “better” at math
Every child develops and learns at a different pace, and that’s perfectly normal. If you have a child with math-related difficulties, help them avoid becoming discouraged or frustrated by the thought that some kids are just born better at math. Don’t embolden this idea, and don’t encourage comparison with others. Instead, boost your own child’s confidence by focusing on their strengths. Recognize steps of progress and growth, no matter how small, and continue to encourage improvement.
Provide your child with encouragement and support
This is especially important when your child is tackling difficult assignments. Make sure you’re readily available to offer help when needed. Provide guidance while giving ample room to solve certain math problems on their own.
If your child needs more assistance, offer the appropriate resources for further learning in a supportive manner that help to build positive feelings about both math and boosts confidence in your child’s learning abilities.
Focus on success instead of failure
Children need to feel that their mistakes don’t define their success. In fact, it is by learning from their mistakes that they can achieve success in school and beyond. So instead of dwelling on failures and mistakes, choose to transform these things into learning opportunities.
Math anxiety is often caused by a lack of mastery of certain math skills. But with good practice, support, and encouragement from parents, children can feel more confident and competent as learners and further enhance their skills in math.
For more tips and resources on parenting, feel free to visit The Pillars Christian Learning Center.