It is no surprise that maths anxiety is common among children and adults too. Individuals suffering from it report tension, apprehension, and fear when faced with the need to perform mathematical tasks. They seek to sneak out when encountered with numbers. It is believed that more women than men are affected by it. But research in the cognitive development of human infants and children has failed to support these claims. However, stereotypes that girls and women lack mathematical ability persist and are still widely held by the society. Some credit to the more than 90% female maths teachers in our schools.
How does it start?
In kindergarten, children play and have fun with numbers. Slowly the fun element goes down the slope and here they get stuck doing mathematics with letters (algebra) some finds it difficult to remember the multiplication or times table while other fail to apply mathematics in real life situations. The discomfort is clearly seen as the palms sweat and mind goes blank when they start solving the word problems. This syndrome often starts in primary grades and usually only gets worse, unless an understanding teacher and good learning experiences intervene.
This means that your child in primary grades will probably have a fair share of maths anxiety that needs to be addressed. Here are some of the several seeds that could have grown into a case of maths anxiety:
- Feeling left out – A fundamental concept or basic operation missed by a child at primary grades can have a snowballing effect throughout the grades, and most likely the child struggles big time to catch up later.
- Inheritance – Not genetically but verbally, children mark their parent’s word; especially when parents proudly talk about their own mathematical wounds adding salt to their child’s wound. Speaking of solutions and the will to overcome it can help heal the wounds.
- Insensitive teacher – Amoung us there are individuals who are good in mathematics and a large percentage of them give credit to their teacher. And yes, the other once who were not so good in the subject too give credit to their teachers. Some teachers themselves have the anxiety towards mathematics and here we go with another case of inheritance.
- Too much change – Frequent change of schools makes a difficult classroom situation for the child to deal with, new friends, new teachers and new methods of teaching. Also think twice before enrolling your child to Abacus or Vedic or Japanese maths classes.
- Pressure to perform – When scores mean a big deal and understanding or love for learning becomes secondary. The bond between the subject and the child grows weaker. As a result, fear grips in.
The main point here is that children must see a bigger picture and know that maths fears are not a sign of low intelligence. The child needs to trust that he/she can learn and enjoy mathematics.
How to overcome Maths Anxiety? We will discuss it in our next post. Till then stay curious, not anxious!