Math is a source of anxiety for most students throughout their educational journey. An upcoming math test can lead to some sleepless nights and even anxiety attacks.
There's no saying at which point a student develops a rational fear of all things arithmetic, but for most, it's usually around middle school — when they start adding letters to numbers!
This anxiety is further compounded by the fact that math forms a vital component within formal education and is a requisite for just about every discipline.
Therefore, math education can open up paths to many different fields in further education, especially the sciences. With all that said, it's crucial to get over your fear of math. But how?
Help Getting Over A Fear Of Math
From elementary school to senior high school, every student is aware of just how important math is, not just in their studies, but also for its implications in just about every field of life.
This fear of math can snowball into psychological blocks, anxiety, and panic attacks, so don't be quick to discount it. Here are five tips for overcoming your fear of math and beating the stress:
- Taking private math lessons with a tutor can help students unravel their psychological blockages. The personalized and interactive math lessons are a welcome break from the classroom, and students can address their issues with an expert
- Using practical materials to make sense of a complex concept - such as pebbles, pie charts, and other everyday items - can help contextualize abstract concepts for students
- Using specialized math books can help students work past their mental blocks and see things from a more positive perspective
- Identify mental blockages which might be causing fear of math in the student. This can be due to the environment at home or personal incidents in the past
- Relearn math basics and go over particular topics like geometry, arithmetic, algebra, and even elementary concepts like addition and subtraction
You can also eliminate your fear of math using apps and tools designed to help you with incomprehensible arithmetic questions.
Making Sense Of Math Anxiety
Our elementary school, high school, and college experiences with math can add to our uneasiness and disinterest in mathematics.
But regardless of your past experiences, it's never too late to undo the damage and change your mindset.
Math anxiety and fear can be exacerbated by not grasping key concepts during lessons. At the same time, some students may find the topics too dull and unappealing and hence face a block when trying to understand them.
It is tempting to think a love of math is something people are born with, and you need to have an innate temperament to grasp concepts like algebra and geometry.
And although some students are indeed naturally attuned to math and gravitate towards the subject, one cannot be born with this love.
In contrast, some might find the subject so physically repulsive that they report feeling symptoms akin to physical pain when confronted with complex math problems.
But, rather than an innate aversion to the subject, unease and discomfort with math are generally due to past traumatic experiences. These experiences may stem from an intimidating teacher or a hostile class environment.
The buildup of anxiety and fear causes further mental blocks when learning math, even culminating in feelings of disgust with the subject altogether. This can drastically affect self-esteem, damaging one’s social life.
However, there are a few helpful tips teachers can adopt to help students overcome these negative emotions, such as:
- Encourage their effort
- Avoiding any reprimand or punishment
- Listening and understand why they are scared of the subject
- Encouraging interactive math lessons with games and puzzles
- Reinforcing them positively when they do good
Overcoming A Fear Of Math
When we compare learning mathematics to the rigors of other complex fields like physics, chemistry, engineering, it doesn't seem all that daunting or inaccessible.
Research has shown that the human brain can rewire and readapt itself to learn new things, and math is one of the few subjects that can boost brain growth.
So, even if your anxiety might seem overwhelming, know that stressful math exercises and problems are helping your brain grow and making you more intelligent.
Even if you come up with a wrong answer to a complex question, you're allowing your brain to increase neuron connections.
You'd be surprised to know that only 2 to 3% of the population actually faces genuine difficulties while learning math.
The remainder of the population is armed to overcome the stress induced by challenging math problems without much effort.
Therefore, our aim should not be to do away with stress but transform that anxiety into “good stress” and stimulate progress in the subject.
Research has shown that consistent pressure and limited time can seriously hamper the brain's critical thinking and ability to function correctly.
As a result, by doing away with time constraints, students can drastically improve at math. And if you need help with this, find an online math tutor.
Learning Math While Having Fun
Learning math does not always have to be stressful, especially if you resort to using math games and making the experience fun.
You don't have to force yourself to learn math against your will when you can participate in more interactive math lessons and have fun doing so.
Living in the US, you access multiple websites that already cater to this niche and take a more engaging learning approach for math problems, such as:
- ICT Games
- Mind Games
- Primary Games Area
- Math Playground
You can also access several math apps on phones and tablets to add a new dimension to your interactive lessons.
They help you incorporate fun problems and activities into the class as your students beat the stress and rigors of math. Some of the options for math apps include:
- Math Tic Tac Toe
- Splash Math
Turning everyday learning routines into games can help students reduce the fear and anxiety they relate to the subject. You can also find free online math resources over at Funmaths for interactive sessions.
Relearning Math For Adults
Most people would say that learning math is like learning a new language. If that statement is true, then failing to acquire the basics of this language will naturally hinder your growth and fluency. As with any other language, it takes a lot of practice to gain fluency in math.
Therefore, to help with the math relearning process, they can turn to private maths tutors, who can guide them through the course.
Superprof gives you access to a wide range of qualified math tutors who can help you undo your mental blocks and fear of maths. Sign up and get access to tutors near you and start relearning math in a way that suits you!