Fact: having the right attitude and perspective in place is absolutely critical to help students achieve their math goals. At Mathnasium, we’ve seen kids who think they're bad at math grow to love it as we work to teach them in way that makes sense to them. With that in mind, Whet Moser’s piece in ChicagoMag.com titled Here’s Where Your Kid’s Math Anxiety Actually Comes From gave us a lot to think about.
Discussing psychologist Sian Beilock’s research on the roots of math anxiety, Moser reports, “Beilock and colleagues have found that math anxiety can be passed down from math-anxious parents and learned from math-anxious teachers. That pervasive stereotype that girls aren’t as good at math as boys affects performance as well.” Furthermore, researchers discovered that indicators of math anxiety surfaced in students as early as first grade!
So, what can parents and guardians do to nip math anxiety in the bud before it takes root? According to Moser, Beilock says, “what is really moving the needle is just parents interacting with their kids and just talking about math.” We strongly believe that “mathing" with your kids—that is, engaging with them regularly through interesting math-related discussions and activities—is just as important as reading to them. Set aside some time for math fun in your family’s schedule. Simply playing a math game, introducing them to math concepts through creative activities like arts and crafts, or teaching them a fun mental math trick encourages kids to form positive associations with math and increases the chances of them approaching the subject with enthusiasm in the classroom.
How often and in which ways do you “math” with your kids at home?