Math phobia or Math anxiety is a deterrent in one’s learning journey and creates insecurities amongst the learner, such that the student starts feeling this subject is ‘not my cup of tea’.
As a parent you might just shrug it off when your child comes and tells you he has a ‘fear of math’. However uncanny it may sound; Math phobia is a real thing! It is a very common type of stressor that students face and it gets worse before exams. Students find it extremely difficult to remember formulae, theorems, and calculations, especially when they are being timed & have to submit their answer papers before the examiner rings the bell.
“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” were the words of Jillian Michaels. Parents and teachers must encourage the learners to overcome the fear of Math and embrace it by following a few helpful tips that we will share with you in this article.
Tips to overcome Math Fear
1) Acknowledge the Phobia: Acknowledging the fear is the first step to overcoming it. Have a conversation with your child and explain that it’s okay to feel afraid of ‘numbers’ and that it can be resolved with some extra support. Even a bright student who performs exceedingly well in other subjects might develop Math Phobia. That doesn’t mean the student needs to be labelled as a ‘slow learner’ or ‘Incapable of studying’.
2) Practice Solving Math Problems Daily: Math is a subject which cannot be learnt by giving it just ‘one glance’. There is no scope to ‘mug up’ the answer and hence the only way to master Math is by setting aside 30-40 minutes everyday for math homework. Revise the ‘theorems’ and ‘calculations’ taught by the teacher in class and keep practicing them by referring to a Math guide book. And if you feel the Guide Book is such a bore, the new trendy thing is to download Math E-Learning Apps and have fun while solving problems. Mathseeds is one such dedicated Math learning App available in UAE, designed as per the K-2 curriculum. It focuses on reinforcing core Math concepts and problem-solving skills amongst learners.
3) Use Math in Everyday life scenarios: When children express their hilt of frustration and question ‘what is the use of studying Math?’ ‘would the distinction between a rhombus and a hexagon ever come handy to me?’, simply sit them down and talk them through. Math becomes meaningful when concepts are applied in day-to-day scenarios. So next time you set budget for groceries, involve your children and allow them to take the lead. Baking a cake for Christmas? Let your little one weigh the amount of flour required as per the recipe. Ordered a bedside table from Ikea? Let your little one sit besides you and figure out recognizing ‘angles’ and ‘shapes’ comes handy, while putting together a piece of furniture. The more you involve them, their interest grows and finally figure Math is not all that bad a subject!
4) Encourage Competitions and Group Learning: Solo studies are great, but when likeminded students come together, the level of excitement is increased manifold. Divide your child and his friends into groups and play a game or two of treasure hunt, where the clues are revealed only on solving the problem correctly! If it is not feasible to gather students at one place, simply log-in to the same e-learning Math Apps and compete with other Math learners remotely. Mathseeds features numerous challenges and activities which can be played remotely, and of course there is always a surprise in store for the winner. That means if you are in Dubai or any other country in the Middle East, you can compete with another learner from Australia who you have never met before.
Each learner is different, and it is unfair to set ‘sky high’ standards or expectations, especially when it comes to learning Math. Pressurizing a child to perform better in Math and forcing him to solve problems from a textbook may only create more frustration and add to the dreaded ‘Math anxiety’. We suggest parents to make math fun, interactive and a way of life.