Many of you will have noticed more about the way your child responds to learning while working closely with them during lockdown. There may be genuine joy at sharing learning but you may also have become more aware of the things you child finds difficult and the areas of learning that can become stressful for them. One area which has been highlighted recently is maths anxiety.
Adults often joke about not being good at maths, but for some children anxiety about the subject can become a real barrier to engagement and progress. It is believed that one in ten children between 8 and 13 suffer from this condition and that children as young as four can be affected. Levels of anxiety can range from a feeling of mild tension to a strong and deep-rooted fear. Pupils who struggle with maths compared with their peers or who find maths more difficult than other subjects are much more likely to experience these symptoms which is thought to be derived from fear of failing or of embarrassment about not being able to do what others can.
Maths anxiety may show itself as a reluctance to complete activities, random guessing, or taking a long time over the easiest questions but there may also be more noticeable avoidance behaviours and feelings of frustration which may show as anger, irritability and refusal to engage. If you child has other needs such as ADHD or ASD you may become aware that maths is a trigger for some behaviours.
In order to overcome this anxiety, it is important to show maths in a positive light and praise you child for their efforts. Making it fun and stressing maths in a real world context also helps to develop an understanding of the subject that is every day and less abstract. It is important to ensure that the maths set is not too hard and to break down more complex problems into small manageable steps. Always let your child’s teacher know if you feel the maths set is too hard and if your child is showing signs of stress.