We understand that many children, students, and parents suffer from varying degrees of maths anxiety. This can become a phobia if not addressed quickly. In this article, we’ve pulled together some insight and advice from our experienced maths tutors.
Maths anxiety is very real, and if not dealt with early, it could become a phobia that can follow students throughout their life. As soon as children start primary school, teachers report hearing declarations of “I’m no good at Maths.”
From the child’s perspective, it’s the main subject where children are exposed to an absolute right or wrong. There are also pressures to complete Maths problems within a specific timeframe and a feeling that they are competing with other children.
One of our maths tutors told us a story about a parent who shared a sad experience. In her case, her son’s online Maths homework involved timed exercises that stressed him so much he would dive under the table to avoid doing it. If he got just one wrong, there would be no gold bar for him, and it would result in half an hour of tears.
The key point is that it’s very easy for many students to learn to hate Maths from the moment they start school. This creates an erosion in their confidence which creeps into other academic subjects too. In some extreme cases, we’ve heard of struggles over Maths homework breaking down family relationships and harmony.
Parents don’t have to be Maths experts to help
Most parents are not Maths experts, which is why maths tutors can be so beneficial. So how do we avoid pulling our hair out when our children are struggling with Maths lessons or starting to show signs of hating the subject?
Parents can do a lot to help without having to be a certified IB Maths teacher. With Maths making up well over half of all tuition requests, we are used to supporting students and advising parents on what they can do to help. Here are our top tips to help:
Be positive about Maths at home.
If you have Maths anxiety, try not to let on and share it with your child. Focus on the process of Maths rather than just the result and have the confidence to play around with numbers and calculations. Try and discover the magic of Maths together with your children.
Teach your children a growth mindset.
This is about understanding the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. In this way of thinking, children believe they are either “smart” or “dumb” and that this is unchangeable.
By contrast, a growth mindset is where we teach our children that our brain grows more when we fail than when we succeed easily. This helps develop resilience in our children. We can teach them how to tackle problems and learn effectively in Maths, moving away from pass/fail thinking and towards a place where the process is what matters most and that skill development is more important than the final result.
We’re not saying that test results are unimportant, but if we are to get the best out of our children, we need to give them time to grow and learn without pressure and stress so they can succeed.
Help your children see everyday Maths in the world around them.
This is helpful to let children see how numbers and problem-solving are practical things that are useful in our daily personal and professional lives.
If your child declares they hate Maths, work on a solution quickly before motivation starts to disappear.
Get the school involved.
If you are still not able to solve Maths anxiety yourself, ask the school or your child’s teacher for help.
Call in the professionals for a little extra help.
A maths tutor can avoid family struggles around Maths homework, build confidence, and reinforce what the student is learning at school to create a positive cycle of achievement and self-belief.