Friday, August 29, 2014

9 Parent Coaching Tips for Battling Math Anxiety

The following article, written by Dr. Margaret M. Desjardins, encourages parents to become involved in their child's educational challenges. This particular article examines Math Anxiety. Dr. Desjardins has a history in education from elementary to college level. She has written several books and is now in the process of writing another. 

Remember this formula:  Confidence +Solid Preparation= SUCCESS
Parents, with high stakes testing here to stay, math is more challenging than it’s ever been before.  Follow these 9 Parent Coaching Tips, and you will have a confident and well prepared child who is more confident of his or her math abilities.

1.       Coach your child to develop a positive Attitude!
One of the most important ways that your child can do better is simply by having a positive attitude.  Don’t let your child sell themselves short by saying things like, “I can’t do math; I am no good at math.” If they believe they can do it, they WILL be able to do math!

2.       Coach your child to ask a lot of questions!
There is nothing embarrassing about asking questions. Your child will not look like a “nerd” to their classmates.  In fact, their classmates  probably want to ask the same questions, but they are afraid to ask! It could be that the teacher is not explaining the math concept fully.  Maybe the teacher can explain the concept in a different way. ASK!

3.       Make sure your child doesn’t fall behind!
Your child is building on a base of math skills and concepts.  If they miss something early on, it gets harder to catch up later.  Also, to take the next level of math courses, your child needs to master the linear concepts to be successful.

Try tutor services-- professional ones, or try a high school student in advanced classes, recommended by the local high school guidance department.  Do not wait until the child is failing. Consider tutoring an investment, and sign them up as an additional booster for math. And keep them in the tutor program.  If they“get it”, the tutors will enrich them. Tutors can keep up by talking to your child’s teacher, and sometimes they will be able to get a copy of their math textbook.  Falling behind can lead to feelings of “why bother?”

4.       Practice, Practice, Practice!
That’s how we learn anything--Through repetitive practice.  Usually it is not until your child applies the concepts to real problems that they “get it”.  Practice out in public.  Calculate money everywhere. 
Find a sequence or pattern of cars driving on the highway, etc.  There are life opportunities to show the relevance of math in your child’s life. Coach them to find relevance in the “real world”.

5.       Build their confidence!
When they do their homework, start with easier problems or problems you know they can do.  Review simple ideas first, or material they covered a year ago.  That will give them the confidence to approach the more difficult problems. Baby steps….

6.       Coach your child to show their work!
It is tempting for you or your child to skip steps, but that does not reinforce the concept being developed. Remember the importance of repetition?  It is better they get into the habit of showing all their work.  That way, if there is a mistake, it is easier to see and correct.  You can also detect a pattern of mistakes and help them immediately.  Plus, your child may get partial credit for a tough problem that is almost correct.

7.       Do NOT ignore wrong answers!
While accuracy is always important, a wrong answer can tell you, as your child’s coach, to look further to see if your child really understands the material.

8.       Coach your child to write neatly!!
It is important that your child organize problems and write numbers and variables clearly, so they do not confuse either themselves- or the teacher.  Sloppy numbers equal wrong answers!

9.       Use Old-fashioned Flash Cards!
Don’t be afraid to use the tactile approach. Symbols, equations, and concepts can get overwhelming.  Use flash cards to organize information or test concepts. They can sort facts into piles, and watch the pile of “don’t knows” get dwindled down. You can place unknown facts on the refrigerator so they see them whenever they open the refrigerator door.

Read the book by Dr. Margaret M. Desjardins,
Murky, Quirky, Beserky Math, and discuss math feelings and strategies from this humorous approach to math anxiety. Go to
Read Dr. Desjardins’ blog: The Wacky World of Parenting 101

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