Math anxiety: It’s more than a feeling
Math anxiety can occur in children as young as 6 years old and can recur throughout their lifetime. In fact, in a recent survey, 93% of US adults reported having at least some math anxiety. Anxiety is more than just nerves—it can make it more difficult to do mental math.
What causes math anxiety?
That's a big question, but we've noticed it's often ideas about identity, and ideas about effort.
We often hear parents and students say "I'm just not a math person" - and that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. That mindset doesn't give room for growth. We want all our students to know that their math skills can grow.
Math anxiety can also be tied to ideas about effort. That if it doesn't come easily that it won't come. This often leads to students avoiding math, or saying things like "I'm not smart". Students are more likely to have lower math anxiety and put in more effort when teachers give praise about how students did and how they can improve, rather than personal praise about inherent abilities (like "You’re really smart!"). In fact, this growth mindset—having the attitude that you can improve by focusing your efforts—is associated with more success in math.
How do you reduce math anxiety?
Breathing and Journaling are good ways to fight anxiety
Practice with help - Often the big emotions people feel when thinking about math are because they don't have enough good experiences with math. Research shows that you can reduce math anxiety by practicing basic math successfully - and with our Mathnasium Instructors to help explain strategies and make it fun, those are some good math experiences!
Summer Math Camps are great low-stakes ways to explore numbers and math games - we'd love to chat if you think this is a good option for you and your family.