Taming the Math Monster

Most students who struggle with math or have dyscalculia also have math anxiety. Math anxiety is a real issue, and it crops up with students usually at test time. The students have studied and prepared for their math topic, whether it is math, algebra, geometry, or a higher level such as calculus or trigonometry.  Homework has been completed, and often grades are high.  Then, test time comes, and the students fail.  This only adds to math anxiety.


My youngest daughter has had math anxiety since she was in the third grade.  She has managed to scrape by with B’s in her math classes because she has been through the Building Blocks for Learning System, which has taught her to be a whole brain learner. But, she still carries emotional baggage, even though she understands and can succeed in higher level math classes.

She is a freshman in college now, and was home last weekend with an important algebra assignment due at midnight.  I was busy, but noticed her old habits creeping up.  She was getting frustrated.  She was complaining. She was failing. The time pressure was only adding to her anxiety.  Midnight was getting closer and closer.

I wanted to get mad at her, because as mothers we sometimes are too critical of our children when we know they can do better.  Instead, I went to the computer, turned on Pandora and chose “classical music for studying.”  I handed her some plain pink (her favorite color) paper.  And I left the room.

When I returned she was calm.  She was happily working out her problems on pink paper.  And in no time her assignment was turned in.  She received an excellent grade on it.

Too many students become emotional when math comes into play.  If your child is emotional, take a break.  Come back later.  Also, many students who struggle with math are right brain dominant.  What did the pink paper have to play with Nicole’s success?  It activated the right side of her brain so that she could use the left side of her brain for math.  And the music?  The same thing.  It keeps the right side of the brain busy so the left side can take over.

These are not fixes or cures for dyscalculia or other math disorders.  But you can try doing these things to tame the “math monster” that keeps your child from succeeding.

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