If your student exhibits physical symptoms of stress when completing math assignments, it can lead to poor math performance. When you combine that with negative attitudes and anxious kids, it’s a recipe for disaster. Math stress is real, but the good news is that there are ways you can help math-anxious individuals overcome their struggles. Read on to learn more.
(Note: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. Read our disclosure policy here.)
Why is math so stressful?
I have been homeschooling for about 17 years now, and if there is one thing I know most homeschool moms have in common, it’s that we all have high math anxiety. I am not only referring to our young children or a high school student, I am talking about parents who are teaching math skills to their students too.
Students should have a solid foundation of basic math skills in order to progress in math and to learn more complex concepts. When the basics haven’t been mastered, you can almost guarantee that your student will have bad experiences with math that may lead to a development of math anxiety.
“All students deserve the time to truly understand the math they’re being asked to do. Skipping this time shortchanges our students and gives them a joyless math—one requiring a lot of memory, repetitive steps, and anxiety.” – Picha, Gina. “Recognizing and Alleviating Math Anxiety.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 17 May 2018
Reducing Math Stress for Kids
In order to overcome high math anxiety, it’s important to determine what the root cause could be. Does your student need to review the very basic math concepts? Are they having a difficult time understanding math lessons? Maybe they just have low math knowledge or a tough time learning new math concepts. Let’s look at some things you can do to help your child overcome performance anxiety when it comes to math.
Consider Your Math Curriculum
There are many different math courses, and not all will work for every student. Some are advanced and fast-paced, others are drill-and-kill. It’s good to find a curriculum that has a pace that works for your student AND offers review of problems for continuing math success.
Comprehending Math Lessons
Does your student have a hard time comprehending math lessons from a textbook? A math curriculum like Teaching Textbooks tends to work great for students who flourish with audio and visual math lessons. Since the math lessons are interactive, they engage different senses and can help overcome learning obstacles.
Change the Way You Think About Math
If you notice that your student has negative feelings about math, it’s important to change his/her fixed mindset. Negative emotions relating to math could result in poor performance. Discourage phrases like “I hate math,” “math is stupid,” “I am so dumb,” “I am terrible at math,” etc. as that only makes math-anxious students stress out more. When a student is stressed about math, it will result in bad grades.
Changing your student’s growth mindset can make a huge difference in attitudes when it comes not just to math, but a lot of things, including those who have test anxiety.
Math anxiety is a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about math situations such as tests and general math performance. Math phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of math. – “Math Anxiety and Stress in Adults” | University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 9
Slow Down to Master Math Concepts
We start teaching children math facts at a young age, but were they mastered? If students are adding and subtracting using their fingers or they don’t have times tables memorized, it’s a good idea to go back to the basics. You can incorporate some speed drills and timed tests as practice until they have a a good working memory to build upon.
When students get to higher grades or high school level math, mathematics anxiety will surely kick in if they don’t have the basics mastered.
Consider Adding Math Manipulatives
It doesn’t matter what curriculum you are using, sometimes adding in visual math manipulatives can help solidify understanding of mathematical problems or a specific math task. When you use an online math program like Teaching Textbooks, students can take advantage of the online visuals that work just like manipulatives.
What Math Stress Might Look Like
Some students that have anxiety and stress about math might have physical symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, headaches, irregular breathing, upset stomach, or even panic attacks. Emotional signs of math anxiety:
- Stress when thinking about doing math
- Negative emotions associated with poor performance
- A fixed mindset that a student will fail because they are just bad at math
- Lack of confidence that leads students to expect wrong answers
- Panic and anxiety when taking a math test, especially timed test
If you think your student’s poor math ability is associated with this type of stress, some of the suggestions in this post may be helpful for you to consider. If you need some relief from math anxiety, homeschool mom, we’ve got a solution for you too!
Reducing Math Stress for Homeschool Moms
Okay homeschool mom, it’s time to help YOU overcome the stress of teaching math to your anxious kids. Children feed off our stress, so when you are teaching a difficult subject, an important thing to remember is to stay calm and encourage positive attitudes. Let me help you come up with a game plan for math success!
Perhaps you struggle to teach math to your children because you had lower grades in math as a kid. Maybe your mathematical abilities aren’t much better than that of your student (or is that just me?). When you’re not a math person, the thought of teaching math might bring about high levels of math anxiety.
There are different types of stress we endure as parents, but math stress shouldn’t be one of them.
If teaching math stresses you out, then don’t teach it!
Yes, you read that right. Teaching Textbooks can do the teaching FOR you! I love the fact that technology exists now that we can use as homeschool parents to teach our children math.
Does the idea of grading your student’s math lessons stress you out? Then don’t grade it! Teaching Textbooks can do the grading for you too.
As homeschoolers, it’s necessary to keep a record of our student’s work. Thankfully Teaching Textbooks does that for me. I am not the most organized homeschooler, so having a grade book all neat and organized is wonderful.
What to Expect from the Teaching Textbooks Gradebook
Not only is the Teaching Textbooks gradebook a convenient way to keep track of our student’s grades, it shows you how many correct answers your student answered in each lesson. It also shows how many times your student tried to answer the question and if the solution was viewed. You can even change their answer in the parental control section, or even delete it so they can try again.
Become a Math Cheerleader
Be sure to encourage your student to keep a positive attitude about math. Help them understand that math is important for all sorts of things in the real world. You can do this at the grocery store our or when you are shopping sales. Sometimes helping a child understand why math is important is enough for them to try harder to grasp tough concepts.
Be Positive about Math
Make sure that YOU are not using negative phrases or words associated with math. If they hear that you hate math, they think that it’s normal and okay to hate it too. Model good and positive attitudes about math to your kids and cheer them on for math success.
Using a Math Curriculum that Keeps Stress Away
When you are homeschooling math doesn’t need to cause you stress! Your child can do math independently AND excel at it in a less-stressful way using a curriculum like Teaching Textbooks. Here are the top reasons that we love Teaching Textbooks.
Just One Math Lesson a Day
This sounds like a given, right? Not so with some other online math programs that don’t have numbered lessons. Using a math curriculum that doesn’t have one lesson a day, or at the very least numbered lessons, in itself stresses me out like crazy. It’s so easy to fall behind in math, and when the lessons are not numbered, it’s a recipe for math disaster! We need to know how many lessons have been completed to ensure we stay on-track.
Teaching Textbooks math lessons are self-teaching. The audio visual lessons are interactive and also include practice problems. This is the best way for visual learners to be taught math, in my opinion. The Teaching Textbooks math teacher will not get frustrated with your child or say things they might regret. They will repeat the teaching instructions over and over without changing the tone of their voice or get annoyed. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
When your child uses Teaching Textbooks math curriculum they are in charge of their learning as they can pause, rewind, and go over the lesson again as needed. Putting this power into student’s hands helps them take ownership of their math success.
Every single problem a student completes provides INSTANT feedback! This helps children because they know right away what was missed. They can try again after they watch the solutions video to understand what went wrong.
Solutions for EVERY Math Problem
There are some online math programs that will indicate a wrong answer, but they don’t show solutions for the problems answered incorrectly. This is problematic for several reasons. How will a student know WHY they got an answer incorrect without watching the visual steps to see how to do it correctly?
This is one of my very favorite features about Teaching Textbook’s interactive math curriculum. We’ve used another online math program that didn’t provide solutions and my daughter wasn’t able to progress for several days. Let me tell you – THAT WAS STRESSFUL!
Reviewing Concepts Students Got Wrong
As you can see in the picture below, the solutions video also indicates which lesson the math concept was taught in. That’s great to know because you can also have your student go back to that lesson and watch the lecture again, or perhaps you can clear out some questions for them to review.
We’ve used Teaching Textbooks so long that I remember in the early days that we had to keep track of the gradebook and do all the math to come up with grades. That was not fun! Teaching Textbooks is so advanced in technology that it handles all the grading and math scores for you. Not only that, but it includes helpful information, such as how many times your student had to try a problem to get it correct and if they watched the solutions video.
MOM TIP: You really should require your student to watch every solution video for each incorrect answer so they can learn from their mistakes. It is advised to also require them try a second time to get a correct answer.
Changing the Gradebook
As a parent, you also have the option to wipe out the grade and have them re-do a complete lesson, or simply delete the incorrect answers and require your student to try them again. I did this for any grade that was below a 75%, but often waited until a few additional lessons were completed, as they built upon one another. When my daughter went back, sometimes she had learned more on the topic and was able to answer the questions correctly. This is a good way to review math concepts that may have been a struggle for your student.
No More Math Tears
Finally, Teaching Textbooks eliminated the tears in our homeschool (from both my daughter and myself!). When the homeschool parent that’s teaching math is stressed out and frustrated, it causes the student high math anxiety too. When you’re both stressed out about math, failure is imminent.
Do you have math stress in your homeschool? Give Teaching Textbooks a try! You can sign up for a free Teaching Textbooks trial and experience everything contained in the first 15 lessons, including lectures, audiovisual solutions, ebook, and the automated grading feature.
My daughter used to break down in tears when it came to math. Now just look at her smiling face! Teaching Textbooks did that. :-)
Whether you have a young student or high-school students, people of all ages could use less stress in life. Math shouldn’t be a stressor, and there are ways people can take steps to ensure math achievement and better grades. So, if you are ready to see an end to the stress responses you see in your student throughout the school year, I highly recommend Teaching Textbooks!
Carrie Fernandez is the founder of Homeschool Giveaways and owner of Daily Skill Building. She has been homeschooling for over 18 years, has two girls and works side by side at home with her awesome husband. She has been saved by grace, fails daily, but continues to strive toward the prize of the high calling of being a daughter of the Most High God.