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Tackling Math Anxiety

“Almost one third of Americans would rather clean their bathrooms than do a math problem.” (Source)


If math seems less inviting than a dirty bathroom floor, then read these great tips from Joan Rooney, our VP, Instructor Management and Support here at The Princeton Review. Joan is our go-to mom when it comes to fun ideas to help our own kids get through school. We're not going to promise that these tips will make you love math, but you can help your child have a healthy relationship with this important subject.

"I wasn’t good at math when I was your age either."

Parents often say this to comfort their child, but what you’re really doing is giving them an escape hatch. Everyone can be good at math! The next time your child complains about math try this instead: “I know math can be really tough, but I also know that you can do it. Let’s work together to figure this out.” This way you have acknowledged their feelings, but also let them know that they are capable of the challenge ahead.

“I can’t help my child with their math homework. I’m completely lost.”

We know how much anxiety trying to help a child with math homework can cause in the house. Our advice: Don’t let them see you sweat! Your anxiety is quickly transferred to your child. You don’t need to know how to do every algebra problem to help your child like math and be successful. Support your child by having resources on hand when you can’t help. There are great sites online that explain concepts via video, and of course The Princeton Review is always here to help with expert math tutors.

“How can I give ‘real life’ math examples when they’re taking algebra?”

It was so easy to help your child see math in everyday life when they were learning to count, add and subtract. But now, they’re solving for x and plotting points on a graph. You can still do it! Next time you’re grabbing pizza ask your child to calculate how many slices he/she could buy for $10.00 (for example). If slices are $2.00 then you just did algebra! (hint: 10 = 2x.). Or ask your son/daughter to make a graph to help figure out which phone/data plan is right for your family. These are simple ways to show your child that yes, you are still using math in everyday life.

Try some of these ideas and see how it works in your house.