Maths anxiety is a surprisingly common experience for many children, but despite this fact, it receives relatively little attention. In order to address this imbalance, below, we’ve looked deeper into maths anxiety and – most importantly of all – how it can be managed…
What is maths anxiety?
As the name suggests, maths anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that tends to occur when children are confronted with the need to complete mathematics. Most often, it is found in relation to schooling; children may experience the condition during maths lessons or when completing homework. However, maths anxiety can also extend to general life; for example, if a child needs to perform a basic calculation (such as working out how much pocket money they have left for the week), they may become anxious when doing so.
What causes maths anxiety?
Extreme maths anxiety is often seen as a sign of dyscalculia, a learning difficulty that is similar to dyslexia, but with numbers and arithmetic rather than letters and words.
However, not all cases of maths anxiety are a result of dyscalculia. Maths anxiety can occur as a standalone condition. Sometimes, the condition can develop for no reason at all. In other cases, it develops as a result of a child experiencing issues with maths, which then leads to less confidence with maths in the future. Over time, this lack of confidence can manifest itself as anxiety.
What are the signs of maths anxiety?
- Nervousness or anxiety when working on maths or contemplating doing so.
- Anxiety may be particularly noticeable prior to maths tests.
- Lack of engagement and passivity with maths; such as little desire to work to improve maths skills.
- Children may also display a lack of confidence in subjects that are similar to maths, with physics being the most common example.
How can maths anxiety be treated?
If a child has dyscalculia, then seeking specialist treatment for this condition should also help to relieve the associated maths anxiety.
For maths anxiety alone, then there are a few ways parents can help their child manage maths anxiety:
- Inform your child’s maths teacher than your child seems to be particularly anxious about the subject and ask if accommodations – such as extra time during tests or being allowed to use a calculator – can be made.
- Encourage your child to engage with maths and see doing so as a positive endeavour. You can use worksheets from Cazoom Maths and then work through them with your child, praising them as much for the effort they are making as you would a correct answer.
- Keep exposure to maths relatively short. If working on maths homework or trying one of the worksheets above, encourage your child to take breaks frequently.
- Allow your child to use a calculator when working on maths-related topic that goes beyond standard calculation.
If you suspect that your child may be experiencing maths anxiety, hopefully the above information can provide the first steps on the road to managing the condition once and for all.