Larry on the subject of Math Anxiety

Feb 4, 2013

The bell rings and everyone takes their seats. The teacher passes out the test and, with sharpened pencils, everyone prepares to turn the page and begin. The student next to you flips open the first page and seems to begin answering questions with ease. Time seems to speed up, nervousness kicks in, and you stare at the first test question but forget how to complete it, even after having studied the material over and over. Panic rises and before you know it, the hour is done, the test is over, but the innate fear of it all hasn't subsided. Parents, this is what we call "math anxiety."

Numbers on a page not only confuse some children, but can also potentially give them full-blown anxiety. This "math anxiety" is intense and feels similar to stage fright. In many cases, math anxiety comes from a student's memorization of the correct procedure and routine to solving a problem, as opposed to developing a core understanding of the problem. When this happens, children quickly forget what they've learned, and anxiety sets in.

As parents we want to eliminate as much stress and offer as much support to our kids as we can. Working with teachers and outside resources is one the best way to get your child comfortable with math content. It is extremely important that you let your child know that just because they don't understand something the first time doesn't mean they won't understand forever.

One way to sharpen these skills and avoid math anxiety is through math instruction outside of school. It is a false misconception that extra help is only for children falling behind in school. Additional lessons and preparation is not only beneficial for kids struggling with the material, it also benefits those students who understand the material and want to strive for further concept and skill development. We want to see our kids keep up with the curriculum, not just try to catch up with daily lessons.

One of Mathnasium's core math lessons helps our students with Computational Fluency and this includes effortless recall of number facts with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These core skills and principles are extremely valuable for building a strong foundation of basic math aptitude, which will carry forward through grade levels.

We will make sure our students are able to:

Be fluent in adding single digit numbers, something they will be able to do quickly and efficiently with practice

Count from any number to any number, by any number; this will aid them with more advanced math problems

Use Mental Math, for example:

• How much is 5, three times?

• 99 + 99 + 99

• 301 - 195

• 4 x 26

• 1,000 ÷ 16

• 7% of 300

• 6 ½% of 150

All of the above skill sets are crucial to the core understanding, and ultimate advancement, of the math knowledge necessary to compete in the global economy. At Mathnasium, we work to eliminate "math anxiety" and replace it with "math confidence." From this confidence comes long-term success in math.

- Larry Martinek


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