Math anxiety is a very real, conditioned response. Research has found that when math anxious individuals are faced with a math problem (not even having to solve it), the pain-centers of their brains activate, active working memory shuts down, and performance is effected - a built in self-fulfillment prophecy.
Bedtime Math founder Laura Overdeck in a TEDx talk Allergic to Algebra, explores MATH ANXIETY and why girls grade six and above suffer significantly more than boys from math anxiety. She notes:
Women and girls by 6th grade are twice as likely to suffer from math anxiety than boys and men. And, while you can try to 'avoid' math in college, we are essentially "Solving for X" daily - evaluating shopping deals, balancing finances, negotiating, buying a car or house, understanding debt and how credit cards work, etc.
- Home environment is critical to math success as is the acquisition and comfort with early math skills:
- Moms are twice as likely to hate math than dads and if you're a girl... there goes your positive math role model;
- Parents are more likely to believe their sons will learn math more easily (and readily) than their daughters;
- Parents' involvement in bedtime or even fun daily math games or math fluency is significantly lower than their involvement with their kids' verbal fluency;
- Mothers speak to boys about number concepts twice as often as they speak to girls (journal of Language and Social Psychology)
- Preschool Literacy vs. Numeracy
- Adults read 3 times more books about the ABC's than they do about numbers.
- Elementary school
- Research shows that teachers consistently show gender prejudices
- when girls do well, teachers assume it's because they worked hard
- when boys do well, teachers assume its because they're naturally good at it.
- Overdeck cites 90% of elementary school math teachers are female and many have their own anxieties about math;
- Overdeck cites the "Mom Effect"
- moms are 72% more likely to say/believe they can't help their kids with math homework
- only 40% of moms are likely to think homework help by outside sources are effective;
- Overdeck relates examples of Cultural statements effecting girls' perceptions of math:
- Forever 21 this year came out with a t-shirt for girls "Allergic to Algebra"
- There was a t-shirt "I'm too pretty to do my homework so my brother does it for me."
- College and Adulthood: The highest paying careers based on college majors are all math and science and women are still a small minority.
Before the solutions - for those who know/remember Tom Lehrer or for math phobics in need of a laugh or break...here's a video of Tom Lehrer's That's Mathematics (and a link for his New Math):
SOLUTIONS and INTERVENTIONS:
- Play math games as a family (and not just solo online - see below for suggestions),
- Dads AND Moms need to talk 'math' and model their skill in daily math (tipping, finding the best deal, balancing check books, etc.)
- There are a growing number of fun math books. Here are just a few:
- Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay up Late
- Quack and Count by Keith Baker (ages 2-7)
- Anno's Counting House (ages 2-7) and Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar (ages 8+) by Mitsumasa Anno
- The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (ages 7+)
- Powers of Ten by Philip and Phylis Morrison (ages 6+)
- Grapes of Math by Greg Tank (teaching about estimation)
- Sir Comference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan (ages 9+)
- The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns (geometry) (ages 8+)
- Games for Math (preschool to 3rd grade)
- Zero the Hero by Tom Lichtenheld (ages 5-10)
- Talk math with kids on a daily basis:
- When traveling on road trips, note the mileage signs. Keep track of the mileage and figure out how many miles you've traveled; how many more minutes it would take going at different speeds (given perfect road conditions).
- Count the number of steps it takes for you and for your child to cover a given block.
- Talk and compute sports statistics.
- Look at weekly temperatures, figure out how much warmer (degrees and percentage) one day is over another.
- Figure out tips (at restaurants, one way to do this it totake bill before tip and divide by five - that is 20%)
- For research on how parents talk with kids about math please see Mind Shift's Why It's Important to Talk Math With Kids.
- Schools and school districts need to support and encourage better math in-service training for teachers.
- Encourge on line and free-standing math games:
- Puzzles -word puzzles, traditional puzzles, borderless puzzles block puzzles,etc.;
- Jenga, Rush Hour, Tanogarms, Origami are just a few fun games to play together,
- Set is another great game. Math is all about creating sets, and this game is funn reinforces the concept of 'set' and is great for memory practice as well;
- Five Great Math Apps for Grade School Kids (from Mind Shift)
- Math Apps and Learning Tools for Kids (from Common Sense Media)
- Four Fun Math Apps (from Wired - Geek Mom)
- PBS has online math games for kids.
- Buy building, electronic, robotic sets for girls AND boys.
- Play with shapes, draw them and build 3D figures. Annie Murphy Paul ("How Thinking in 3D Can Improve Math and Science Skills" 6/22/2012) at Mind Shift cites research showing that children who understand how shapes fit together are better able to use a number line and solve computation problems.
|Courtesy Peppa Pig found at www.guardian.co.uk|
- modeling comfort with balancing checks (oh that might be an oxymoron but I think you get the gist),
- figuring out tips (oops, there too) ,
- finding the best bargains (okay here comes the fun...),
- computing distances - talk about how far a destination is and how long it will take if you walk slow, walk fast, or drive at different speeds,
- take up photography - figuring out f-stops, lighting, angles, and composition,
- play with puzzles and puzzle pieces,
- play sorting games,
- experiment with origami,
- playing games like Jenga, Rush Hour, Tanograms
In short, over the summer have FUN with math, shapes and numbers.
What do you think? How do you bring math to your family?
Please leave your favorite math games, books, apps and stories in the comments.
And as always...thanks for your visit.