Month: June 2013

Math Anxiety

Does your child have math anxiety? Or maybe you have math anxiety! What is math anxiety?

I’m glad you asked!

So here is an excellent article all about math anxiety and some of the myths that people believe about math.

Check it out, it’s an interesting read.

Math Anxiety: Shattering The 5 Myths

Students who say they suffer from “math anxiety” usually have the following symptoms: Upon entering their math classroom, even on the first day, they panic and feel immediately unsuccessful. Feelings of nervousness, frustration, annoyance, even anger are felt. Even when offered help or opportunities to get assistance, the student remains passive and afraid. On tests these students feel like they are alone in their suffering; that they are the only ones who are struggling; that they will mess up even the simplest problems. These students have lost their confidence, and have often felt this way for many years. What is perpetuating this problem, and what can parents and teachers do about this?

The problem of math anxiety is universal. Yes, many students come to class with skill gaps in the curriculum and poor training in study and test-taking skills. But it is mostly a mental block and self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuated by those who care for the struggling student the most: parents, relatives, and teachers who show a negative attitude about their past challenges in math class. The clue to the power of the self-imposed block is when the student travels to his next class and immediately feels better and more confident, and is glad the torturous hour of math is over. For most kids with math anxiety, this is the reality. Why the sudden relief, the sense of going back to normal, and the instant sense that things are better?

Math anxiety is simply an emotional condition, extended through many days, weeks, and years and blown up in the student’s mind as being something unrecoverable, innate, and permanent. One of the first steps in dealing with this strong emotion is to examine the myths about math in general that create mistaken ideas about how math concepts and ideas fit in to our world.

Math Myth #1: Only the lucky few are born with math ability
We all accept the fact that some people are born with the right type of body, skills, and athletic ability to become professional athletes, right? Does this mean that those of us who are not “naturally gifted” athletically shouldn’t try to play tennis, join a softball team, throw the football? Of course not. The difference is one of degree. Sports still can play an active part of our lives, in fact should be important to all of us for reasons of health and social and emotional well being.

If a student feels they are not talented in calculations, “getting numbers”, or thinking mathematically, do they just give up? No — and it obviously leads to a discussion of learning to persevere the obstacles and challenges in our career as students, not quit when the going gets tough.

Math Myth #2: There is only one answer, and this is the goal of mathematics
Sure, at the simplest levels of calculation there has to be a unique answer: 2 X 4 has to be only 8. As we move on to upper, more important levels of mathematics, these memorized calculations are only tools to get at the true goals in the realm of math: learning how to measure and analyze our world, and solve problems using mathematical tools. Again, I would argue that when solving systems of equations (simultaneous), there must be only one solution. But this is just learning the tool; the process of solving such a problem is a procedure that becomes a higher level strategy to solve even more complicated situations. An experienced math teacher or professor should delight in students who can show creative ways of solving problems different from the way it is shown in the textbook. The key is to use math skills and algorithms to practice your thinking abilities, and improve them!

Math Myth #3: Girls are not good at math, and shouldn’t pursue math-related careers
Although this idea has faded a bit in recent generations, the idea that girls can’t think mathematically is still out there at the family dinner table, school classrooms, and hallways. Of course, the female brain is wired differently than the male one, but mathematical ability remains one that has to be practiced and nurtured over time, regardless of gender.

At the typical family gathering, do people laughingly admit that they are illiterate, and have always struggled with reading? Probably not, yet there seems to be some camaraderie when someone mentions their challenges in math class. It tends to be accepted as normal, and anyone, especially a girl who thrives mathematically must be unusually talented. There is also no truth to the rumor that girls are somehow less feminine if they enjoy math or excel in it.

Math Myth #4: Success in math means you can get the answers instantly
At the earlier grades, when learning addition facts or multiplication tables, of course speed is important. These are the building block skills necessary at the foundational level. In the middle school or high school classrooms where the faster thinkers are celebrated or minimal time is allotted for slower learners to respond, this just shows poor teaching. A good instructor should allow time for exploring other solutions and finding alternate methods.
In fact, an effective math lesson needs to celebrate creative problem solving. This involves conversation, brainstorming, and group discussion. Another argument for possibly women being more suited to higher levels of mathematics!

Math Myth #5: Math literacy can be avoided and is not important
Again, the scene centers on your dinner table. . . If you mention your struggles with yesterday’s math lesson or bad score on a quiz, the stories come out again. Knowing nods of sympathy, and opinions about how only some people are gifted enough. You hear comments about how you just need to get through it in order to graduate and then you can spend your time doing more “important” work. The implications are, of course, that math is something to endure, not something to learn to improve on and even enjoy.
The idea of math literacy is an important one. Few people argue that everyone needs to be able to read and write, but there is the fuzzy notion that mathematical competence is optional. If a student does well in Algebra classes in high school, studies have shown that they will far excel in college experiences and be more successful in life. This represents a minimal competency landmark. Everyone should strive at the least to pass algebra classes in high school and college as a jump-start for further success in the academic and working world.
The algebraic skills of creating
abstract representations of problems and solving them (equations, graphs, proofs, and hypothetical models) is extremely important in life. Whether researching the best place to order carpet, construct an addition for the house, or do a cost-analysis for your business, mathematical skills, mathematical thinking and strategies are involved.

Overcoming math anxiety in children and adults is more about being aware of the myths and personal biases of other people’s beliefs. Solving this challenge is not putting more time into studying or banging your head against the wall in your study area. Mathematics is a competency area in school that signals your readiness to enter the working and academic world and be successful. It is not optional, magical, or impossible. It takes perseverance, patience, and a willingness to seek out help. Many times, math anxiety becomes math avoidance, supported by the ignorance of close friends and family, but it can be overcome!

In part 2 of this article series, I examine how to deal with homework issues as they relate to a student who is feeling math anxiety. I will answer the challenges of what to do when a student feels like he can’t understand the textbook, doesn’t know how to even get through last night’s homework, and can’t organize for the next day or ask for help. Knowing how to deal with homework sessions for the parents and student is the first step in finding the cure for this common problem.

By: Terry VanNoy

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Terry VanNoy’s class sessions, Math with Mr. V are by appointment only . . . Call toll free 1-877-317-3317 to arrange a free consultation! Help your child feel more successful in his or her math classroom.

So are you feeling better about that math anxiety now!?!?

Have a great day!

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Math Magician – Martin Gardner

Have you ever heard of Martin Gardner?

I hadn’t until just today. I was watching a video of his influences on life and it was very interesting.

If you have a little time and would like to check it out, here it is:


The Nature of Things / Martin Gardner from Wagner Brenner on Vimeo.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Have a great day.


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Math Trick – Your Birthday

I found a cute video that shows you a trick with math and a calculator on how to get your birthday.

Try following along with the steps and see if it works for you. It worked for me!

Easy Math Magic Tricks – Birthday Date Calculations
http://www.WorstJokeEver.Com Here comes a math trick to play upon calcualting your birthday date. Suprise your friends and family with this magic calculation…

So did it work?

Have a great day!

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How To Make Learning Math Easy

Most of the time when you ask a child about learning math, they’ll usually respond that it’s hard. Some respond that they’re just not good at math. But did you know that with you’re help, you can make it a little easier for them to learn math? Yes, you can! Check out this article that James Tomas wrote.

Making Math Easy

 Math can be a difficult subject for many children, and often, children struggle in school simply because they do not understand the basic concepts of mathematics. If your child is struggling with this subject, and you want some suggestions for help on math, then you have come to the right place. If you take a proactive approach to your child’s learning needs, you can make math much easier for them. Just consider the following suggestions.

First, remember that school subjects are often considered not fun or even boring. Your child may be struggling with math simply because he or she feels like being in math class is torment. To get your child more interested in the subjects, look for ways to make it fun. Create math based games that will be exciting learning experiences. This is a good way to keep a child’s attention and help them learn without them feeling the normally drudgery of study.

Second, math can easily be taught in everyday situations. You do not have to sit down with a child at a kitchen table to study the subject. When your child needs help on math, look for real life scenarios to help them learn. For example, take them along to the grocery store and let them use a notepad to add up the cost of different grocery items that you are buying. When you purchase something at a convenience store, have the child try to determine how much change you got back from your cash payment. There are many real life scenarios that can easily implement help on math for your child.

Third, remember that illustrating something or making it hands on is a much easier way for children to learn. If you put a math problem on paper, the child may struggle. However, if you make it come to life, they may find it easier to learn. For instance, on a basic level, have the child add or subtract actual items like fruit in the kitchen, books or videos in the living room, or pebbles in the back yard. Bringing math to life gives a better illustration for a child to learn.

Many children struggle with math. If your child needs help on math, remember that you can give them that help. Just keep in mind that you need to make the subject more fun and interesting. You also need to use real life scenarios and illustrations to teach them the subject.

By: James Tomas

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Making Math Easy is one of the subjects from the “Education and Reference” category of


So you now know what to do to take some of the difficulty out of learning math for your children!

Hope you have a great day!


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