Dr Jill A.B. Price from the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada is a professor in the Department of Psychology and has devoted her career to studying math anxiety. She is working to help educate teachers and parents about this dangerous type of anxiety disorder and to expand popular knowledge around math anxiety so that new generations of students can thrive and have the option to explore career opportunities that were not available to previous generations. Below are some important questions on the topic, answered by Dr Price.
What advice would you give a parent reading this article and considering math anxiety for the first time?
My advice to parents is to try to promote positive math attitudes as much as possible in the home, regardless of their personal feelings or understanding about math. Furthermore, the earlier that parents can engage in math-related activities with their children the better.
Should the emphasis as it pertains to math anxiety be on prevention or cure?
The primary focus of research should be on prevention of math anxiety. If we can prevent math anxiety from developing in the first place, then we can eliminate its negative consequences on children’s future academic success. Although, research on interventions is also important for those who have already developed symptoms of math anxiety.
The statement, “Parent’s involvement in their children’s education is critical especially in early development” can you elaborate on this?
There is a widely held belief that children’s math achievement is primarily the responsibility of teachers. However, parents’ involvement in their children’s math achievement is critical. This does not suggest that parents must maintain a strong understanding of math. Rather, parents can promote children’s math achievement by merely encouraging positive math attitudes. For instance, children with more positive math attitudes show higher math achievement than children with more negative math attitudes. Research also shows that children who engage in math-related activities (e.g., building block, board games, cards) more often in the home show more positive attitudes and higher math achievement than children who engage in fewer math-related activities in the home.
What advice would you give elementary school teachers on the topic of math anxiety?