Math anxiety or fear of math is a very common phenomenon among students. At some particular age, all students struggle with this feeling. When math anxiety takes over a student, the teacher or guide should not pressure him or her to perform better. This way, math anxiety combines with performance anxiety too. There are many ways to soothe out the fears of a young student and make Math interesting for him/her. When you portray math as an important but fun subject, math anxiety does not remain in the child's mind. The way math is approached in the classroom and study sessions is a very important factor in how the child sees the subject.
If you are a math teacher, you must be aware that every child has his own level of intelligence and learning capabilities. Thus, how he responds to math and problems also differs. Every student will not shine at math right from the beginning. The teaching approach needs alteration to suit the classroom environment and the student's mindset. You cannot decrease or decide their unpleasant experiences with math. However, you can help them process these setbacks in a healthy way and create more interest in their minds.
Simple ways for tackling math anxiety among students
Positive attitude with effective teaching - What you possess in mathematical knowledge only matters as half of what the students understand. The most important aspect of classroom teaching is the approach behind it. Therefore, you should always combine good teaching with a positive attitude. Keep an encouraging outlook for your students instead of a criticizing one. Give out positive, constructive criticism instead of just scolding them.
Prompt them to ask questions - It is important to feed your students' curiosity to ensure that they are learning. Instead of imposing problems on them, encourage them to understand the concepts behind the questions. Do not treat their questions as something laughable or dismiss them. Instead, take time and patience to explain answers to them. This way, they will always understand the concepts and perform better. The fear of math will dissipate.
Practice regularly - One of the most important aspects of math is practice. Without practice, students do not develop clear methods of problem-solving. With practice, the concepts and methods become clear to a great extent. The more the students will practice, the better they perform. When they practice concepts and problems daily, their performance improves automatically, and fear ends. Practice is more necessary for the topics that the students find difficult to complete.
Start peer learning - Sometimes, what the students need is a friendly nudge. Instead of just providing them with traditional learning, let them learn from their better math peers. Ensure that the learning happens amicably. Sometimes the peers can explain the concepts better than a teacher. This also helps both the students in improving their knowledge base.
Give simple methods and lesser theory - You should give them theory to back up their practice. However, the methods should be simple and understandable. Instead of too much theory, make them practice easy tricks to arrive at the answer. Teach them interesting tricks and improve their capabilities with simple theories. Also, instead of staying rigid in one method, teach them two to three methods to be comfortable with the different ways.
Do not emphasize mistakes. Emphasize results - Most of the time, teachers in the classroom overemphasize the student's mistake. Instead of emphasizing mistakes, emphasize finding the solution together. The students need help during the initial stage. Do not deny their want for help or laugh at them for asking for help.
Start with smaller problems - To create a mindset that math is easy, you need to start with smaller math problems. Starting with smaller and simpler problems helps in building a strong foundation for the next phase. You should increase the difficulty with time only after you are sure the student is clear in the basics.
Make a study schedule - As a teacher, you might have less control over the students' self-study. However, you can help them in adopting a study schedule at home. The students do not have to study it for hours together. Tell them to start slow and with a small time frame. However, encourage them to pick up a disciplined schedule and good study habits.
Infuse creativity and activity - There is a misconception that math cannot be interesting and fun. Be proactive as a teacher and use creative activities and fun group activities to help them learn with fun. This will pique their interest and keep the students encouraged.
Make a summary of any topic - After you have taught a chapter, create a one or two-page summary of the chapter and distribute it in the class. This summary can have the important theories in short with the important formulas and solved examples. This helps the students in studying on their own. They can refer to it when they face a difficult problem later.
These are the ten ways of dissipating fear of math from the child's mind. Whether you are a teacher or a parent teaching math to the child, these points can create an effective child-friendly approach.