Overcoming Math Anxiety - Strategies for Students, Teachers, and Parents (Ep 149)

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Are you not a "math person"? Do your students talk about how hard math is? Math anxiety is real and I'm excited to dive into some simple strategies and a program called 99math that can help alleviate that anxiety for your child or student. 

Often, our students struggle with math because the subject can feel very black and white with only one right answer. The fear of failing can be a tough emotion to overcome, but what if we flip our thinking around that? Incorrect answers often give us an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to celebrate when we get to the next step! A lot of misconceptions about the difficulty of math stem from this anxiety and fear, but if we can get around it, then we can start seeing more independence and more success in math. 

Are you familiar with learned helplessness? This is the idea that students become so dependent on assistance from teachers, parents, and peers that they automatically default to asking for help, even when it's not needed. We need to encourage students to always try to solve a problem on their own first (even outside of the classroom), and then ask for specific help, not just, "This is hard, I can't do it, help me." Ask for specifics: "Where are you stuck?" "What do you think could be the next step?" "Have you reviewed the work you've already done?" 

Math can also create passive learning, where a child is physically present for a lesson, but not truly engaged in the learning. In these moments, most likely, the student felt defeated before the lesson even began. We need some tools and creative solutions to meet students where they are and help them move forward. 

Special Education teachers, how many math classes did you take in your teacher prep program? I took 1! When we go to school to become Special Education Teachers, we don't typically have specific instruction in the curriculum we might be teaching or assisting students with. We have to rely on our own research, independent learning, and collaboration with core content teachers to get the knowledge we need to support our students. That's why we need the best of the best tools and resources to help make breakthroughs! 

It's critical to understand math because we use it every day! Money, time management, counting, and so many other math-related opportunities can impact our daily lives, so we have to get some math basics down. It also means that we have to reevaluate how we teach math to make it more relevant to our students and connect it specifically to our students' lives. Try integrating student interests into their manipulatives. Try looking at a variety of tools to help support learning. 

99Math is a great resource to help! It's an online platform of free math games to master fact fluency and curriculum standards. The best part? It's available to both teachers AND parents! Here's why I love it: 

  1. Untimed and solo learning options: 99Math makes learning fun without the added pressures of a timer to stress out your student! The great thing about 99Math is that your child can slow down and take their time working through the problems.
  2. Continuous Evaluation Reports: 99Math is constantly collecting information and evaluating students' understanding. What's even better is that teachers can receive reports for their whole class or for individual students, noting common mistakes. This information is invaluable to teachers in reevaluating their instructional practices and making adjustments to the lessons moving forward.
  3. Compatible with Google Classroom: I didn't mention it in the recorded version of the podcast, but 99Math makes set-up easy for teachers to import their class rosters directly from Google Classroom! We LOVE when technology does the work for us!

I wanted to tell you about 99Math specifically because it is so flexible and helps teachers differentiate their curriculum for their students. Tune into the 11-minute mark to hear about how one teacher used a digital learning tool like 99Math to build her student's confidence and independent learning skills. She made sure that she introduced the student to the math environment by first removing the pressure of a failure opportunity. 

 

Create a routine that includes Math

Is what we're working on truly important for the real world? Can we apply this learning to the child's future? Let's make sure the child is actively engaging in the learning by making it something they look forward to. 

Incorporating reading into our daily lives is easy (silent reading, storytime, etc.), but let's make a conscious effort to also add math into our daily routine. If we start to add math into our daily lives and make it part of our fun, we will start to see improvement across the board! Teachers, get into the habit of using 99Math as a warm-up exercise to review your math curriculum with your students in a low-pressure situation. Play it as a bonus game - your students will love it! If they're ready, fuel their enthusiasm with some friendly competition in the classroom! It's a great way to see mastery of a topic as well as areas for improvement. 

Integrating math into a child's school day on an everyday basis beyond standard instructional time is definitely a way that we can ensure that a child is prepared for further education, employment, and independent living, as is defined in the purpose and findings of IDEA law. We can't wait to hear all about how you are going to start incorporating math skills into your child's routine to help with their math anxiety. Be sure to jump over to 99Math to help make math fun! 

  

Here's a glance at the episode... 

[0:52] "The fear of failing can be a tough emotion to overcome, but what if we flip our thinking around that? Incorrect answers often give us an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to celebrate when we get to the next step!"

[11:25] "She made sure that she introduced the student to the math environment by first removing the pressure of a failure opportunity. 

[15:15] " If we start to add math into our daily lives and make it part of our fun, we will start to see improvement across the board! 

 

Click here to listen! 

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