Math Confidence Instead of Math Anxiety in Kids

Math anxiety in kids isn’t rare and can occur very early, affecting up to 1 in 4 kids. Kids don’t need a math gene to have a confident attitude to math. (Zorbit’s Math Adventure) They need lots of fun and play opportunities with math. Children learn from everyday, ordinary experiences. As parents and caregivers, we can help them despite our own math phobias.

number fun with kidsOne way to show kids that math is part of our lives, is to notice all the places where there are numbers. As the day starts with your child, numbers can be part of getting dressed. One pair of pants has 2 legs. One sock is not enough. Two feet need two socks, but where or where is the other sock? Count the buttons on the shirt as it gets done up. Young children may have favorite sports players and proudly wear their numbers.

Breakfast also includes a serving of numbers. Does each person have one bowl and one spoon? In a bowl of cereal are there more cheerios or more raisins? More is more than a word, it’s a math concept. Kids use the word much more than parents, especially if we would rather they had less.

Getting out the door in the morning can seem like a numbers game, only it’s not much fun to play. As for the rest of the day, how often do kids hear “5 more minutes?” We need to make sure that some numbers are more positive than negative, like counting the number of days until a sleep-over or other special event.

number fun with kidsIf you will be out and about with your child, you can notice all the places where there are numbers. The street will have signs with numbers on for the speed. Stores use numbers to show the times when they will be opening and closing. There are numbers on houses, cars, and offices.

You will likely find numerous ways of using numbers in a day. It all adds up to building math confidence rather than math anxiety in kids.

Combating Math Anxiety in Kids

The date says 6; how’s tricks? A fear of math is common but you don’t need to be a magician. Sometimes, our math phobia creates math anxiety in kids. Do you know how to help your child develop a positive attitude to math?

math anxiety in kidsEven though it seems like magic, math is ordinary and everyday. We couldn’t use our phones if we didn’t have numbers and many people suffer extreme anxiety when they have to do without cell phones. But brain scans show that math can be scary for some kids. Just “seeing numbers on a page stimulates the same part of the brain that would respond if they spotted a slithering snake or a creeping spider….” (Annie Murphy Paul: How to Deal With Kids’ Math Anxiety)

What can you do as a parent or caregiver? Today’s play-of-the-day inspiration is one solution and is a basic idea for math. One-to-one matching is what it sounds like, being able to match one item to another item. For instance, one foot needs one shoe. Start talking about this from the start of the day. Getting dressed is a fun activity for one-to-one. Only one arm can fit in a sleeve. Kids like to try sliding two arms into one sleeve of a shirt and leave the other sleeve dragging behind. This is a sort of play with one-to-one matching. Will two socks go on one foot.

math anxiety in kidsAt breakfast time, kids can set the table. Each person needs one bowl. Papa Bear had a bowl, Mama Bear had a bowl, and Baby Bear had a bowl. They were different sizes but 1 bear:1 bowl. Instead of saying “One for you and one for me,” only once, use different voices–a deep, papa one, a high-baby voice, etc.  Spoons too…

When kids are playing with toys, take advantage of a minute now and then to point out one-to-one relationships, such as one train track on one train table, or one blanket for one doll, or one car in one parking space. Once kids understand this idea, they can build on it. Two people would need two bowls, three people would need three. One-to-one matching seems so obvious to us but it’s a critical skill for developing number sense. How about this formula for helping combat math anxiety in kids: one day of play = one day of learning?