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?

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