Math Anxiety is a Real Phenomenon

In a culture where grades are competitive and the expectation to do well in math is high, some students may experience Math Anxiety. In the article, Could My Child Have Math Anxiety?, Dr. Ansari (2019) describes Math Anxiety as “an intense feeling of stress, unease, or worry when having to do a math task.” Math Anxiety can manifest in students who struggle with learning new math concepts and in students with a high performance in math classes. Students have reported that when learning and working with a math concept in class, they feel that it is easy, but express anxiety when they have to perform the same math tasks independently at home. Math Anxiety can also manifest in students that are in advanced math classes. These students develop Math Anxiety by consistently comparing themselves to others. In other words, a student can develop Math Anxiety due to high levels of competition.

Math Anxiety is not a learning disability. It can develop as a result of a learning disability, but there is evidence that all types of students may demonstrate signs of Math Anxiety, due to different performance expectations. Math Anxiety can develop through a negative experience in a math class, struggling to learn new math concepts, consistent negative talk about acquiring new math skills, or feeling inadequate in their own math performance.

Everyone feels anxious or nervous at times. Sometimes, a little stress can be a good thing. However, when a student becomes overwhelmed by the stress of math, they may develop a “fear of math.” If you feel that there is an issue with your child and the subject of math, talk with your child’s math teacher. They can help build math foundations; as well as appropriately challenge your child to increase their math skills. Math teachers are experts that have developed curriculum and strategies to teach students on many different levels. Your child’s math teacher is the best resource for helping with the learning of new math concepts and to help students to excel in class.

For additional information, please visit Understood.org.


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