FindItMore | Talking about maths, I will always recall the many occasions when a friend would Whatsapp us, asking for help with her son’s maths problems. And she would share how her son is not able to understand the questions or how to solve them and feeling jittery over it. But he is fine with the languages. This is quite common thing, is it not? Most of us will have our favorite school subjects for various reasons, the main one being we simply love the subjects!
Why are some children afraid of maths? One reason could be that maths is taught in school as a judgmental subject – answers are usually a matter of right or wrong, yes or no. According to Steve Chin, an international consultant specializing in maths difficulties, children do not like being told they are wrong. Having to do calculations in class if they lack confidence increase the anxiety and anxiety in turn makes the working memory less effective, and children just freeze up.
So how do we help a child to overcome the fear of maths so that he or she will not develop anxiety that will impede their learning process? Below are some strategies which might help.
1) Be Positive
Encourage your child to be positive towards maths. Help him or her understand that everyone has different abilities and he or she should be proud of the other accomplishments. A positive outlook will boost the child’s confidence, helping him or her keep focus and perform better.
2) Encourage Practice
Practice always helps improve a child’s maths skills. Encourage your child to work out problems every day and set aside a particular time for this. This investment in extra time and effort will bring about a change in both attitude and performance of a child. If necessary, hire a tutor to provide extra coaching, which leads to the next point.
3) Know When to Get Help
Consider getting a tutor to help your child if necessary. Face-to-face tutoring would give him or her more time and opportunity to work out maths problems. They are also able to ask more questions that they might be shy to do in a classroom.
4) Play Around With Numbers And Bring Them Alive. Make Them Fun!
In maths, the ability to play around with numbers and real-life applications is vital. Encourage your child to play with numbers on paper or with big counters in front of them. Visual images reinforce maths concepts in their heads. For instance, you could roll a few dice for your child to add up the numbers that appear on the side of the dice that are facing up; or cutting up an orange into different pieces to explain the concept of division. You could also involve your child in maths games, puzzles and apps to make maths an enjoyable experience.
5) Use Technology
If your child finds learning times tables impossible or dull, you could use technology to help with the learning. For example, there is MathBoard, Math vs Zombies and many more. These apps provide fun ways for children to learn about maths concepts without thinking that they are related to school work.
6) Perceive Maths as a Creative Subject
The general notion is that maths is not creative. Encourage your child to experiment with different ways of solving a problem. Introduce him or her to open-ended problems such as figuring out how many ways you can make an ‘8’ by using the numbers 0 through 9 and the addition and subtraction operations. Activity-based maths learning that involves paper-folding and dartboard will also ensure creativity.
7) Give Good Reasons to Study Maths
Help your child understand that as he or she is growing up, maths will come in handy for many things in life, e.g. filing income tax returns, managing home budgets and allowances. In addition, a large percentage of jobs will require some maths and a strong foundation in maths will help develop both logical thinking and problem-solving skills. Such motivation will lead to positive results in a child.
8) Face It Squarely
Sit down with your child and talk about his or her fear of maths. Talk through why your child is afraid of maths and the concerns that he or she has. Help your child to acknowledge that he or she may not be enjoying the same comfort level with maths as with other subjects but that does not mean fearing it. Acceptance is always the first step towards tackling any problems.
9) Set an Example
Finally, set a good example. A parent’s attitude towards maths tends to reflect in the child’s outlook. If you had a negative experience with maths, avoid making statements like, “Maths is so difficult,” or “I dislike maths.” Encourage your child by saying things like, “Maths was difficult for me because I did not get the right kind of support. There are so many fun activities and online resources these days. These can help us both get better at maths.”