I was talking with my husband yesterday about last week's blog, math strategies. He commented that he has always had math anxiety, even though he is a successful engineer. My first thought was, didn't you have to take a lot of math classes? The answer was yes, and he hated every single one. Now that is sad. For those of us that teach math, we might not be able to understand that kind of anxiety. The numbers, formulas, and concepts come very easily to us. For others, the thought of going into a math class or working on a set of math problems sends them into a panic. I never particularly liked reading Shakespeare, but I didn't panic when I opened up one of his books. Only math seems to produce this kind of behavior in people.
I took some time to look for options that we can give students when they are feeling this kind of anxiety. We are coming up on ACT/SAT/AP exams, and thought this may be a good time to produce a list of websites that students can visit and get help with some of the anxiety they are feeling. Though this is not a cure, it is another place for students to turn without having us keep telling them to relax. My husband never did.
The first place I found is from math.com. This website offers a list of common math anxiety symptoms that students may have, and offers students options to cope with these anxieties. I thought the best one was "ASK FOR HELP". I'm sure as teachers we often wonder why students don't just ask for help. After talking with my husband, it seems that he was embarrased that he would look stupid. He would rather suffer in silence.
The next was a help for math anxiety website that I came across. The reason I liked this website is that they have a link to why math is different then any other subject and offer exercises for students to complete to help them with their math anxiety.
I also found this top ten list from mathpower.com that gives students a short list of things they can do to overcome math anxiety.
The next helpful website I found is from math.about.com. This one page site offers the reasons behind math anxiety, the misconceptions about math anxiety, and some helpful solutions.
The final website I found was from collegeboard.com. This is just a short one page list of helpful solutions to math anxiety.
Please share other ideas that you have found to help students cope with math anxiety. If we can stop it in grades K-12, students will enjoy math more and be more successful in college.