Sameer is a bright-eyed student who is always active in class and loves school as he gets to meet all his friends. Sameer actively participates in every class but his Math teacher has noticed that he is silent in her class and prefers sitting in the back. During math period, while all of Sameer’s friends are eagerly solving math problems he appears to be anxious and avoids participation in any number related activity.
Sameer is just one of many students in the world who have a deeply embedded fear of numbers. A fear that can have long term implications if not addressed early on. This fear, also known as arithmophobia or numerophobia, is an overwhelming and sometimes irrational fear or anxiety of performing calculations, solving mathematical equations, or even simply handling numbers.
A fear like this can have a lasting negative impact on a child. A poor ability to understand and apply mathematical concepts can diminish a child’s academic progress. Moreover, such a fear can make them feel incapable or inadequate in comparison to their peers and thus affect their confidence and self-esteem. In the long run, a psychological barrier is created, that results in them avoiding any math related subjects or even potential careers and opportunities where numeracy skills might be required.
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In everyday life, numbers are a necessity. Numbers are used in everything from managing budgets to counting money and measuring ingredients in recipes. Children need to have a positive relationship with numbers because it gives them important life skills. Numeracy skills improve critical thinking, decision-making, and spatial reasoning in addition to supporting logical reasoning and problem-solving skills. For kids to reach their full potential and thrive in a world dominated by data and calculations, they must learn to overcome their fear of numbers, if not avoid developing it in the first place.
Here are a few tips on how to overcome the Fear of Numbers
1. Recognize and Reward number skills
Creative a nurturing environment that helps cultivate a positive attitude towards numbers. Show children that everyone can learn and improve given time and practice. Ensure that you acknowledge and maybe even celebrate small victories to build your child’s confidence. For example, encourage 5 puzzles solved daily, irrespective of the accuracy or outcome. Have a small magnetic board with stars or use an App that enables solving. Reward the input and effort as much as the outcome.
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2. Make Numbers Fun!
Make use of puzzles, activities and even real-life examples to introduce your child to mathematical concepts. An interactive approach can make learning numbers more engaging and less intimidating for children. For instance, if you are taking your child for a movie, ask her to calculate the travel time needed given distance of the movie theatre.
3. Personalize Learning
Adapt math lessons to the pace and learning preferences of each child. To improve understanding, use technology and visual aids. Confidence can be boosted and anxiety can be reduced by offering a non-judgmental environment to keep trying till they start doing well. For example, a workbook or a learning App may suit reticent children who will benefit from working solo. You can encourage them to move up levels or reward them for getting 10 questions right in a row!
4. Relate Numbers to Real Life
Show children the use of numbers in everyday life and how they are already doing math calculations without any difficulty. Simple counting of objects or measuring of ingredients for cooking, even calculating change while shopping is an everyday occurrence that children can manage. This application of numbers in real-life contexts can demystify their abstract nature. If you are hosting people for dinner, engage your child in deciding on the quantity required based on number of people!
A positive disposition towards numbers, data interpretation and application is extremely important not only in vocation but also in our daily lives.
Children’s fear of numbers can be a major barrier to their academic, personal, and professional development. However, this fear can be conquered with the appropriate techniques and assistance. We can encourage children to embrace numbers with confidence by encouraging a growth mindset, providing engaging and personalized learning experiences, and emphasizing the value of numbers in daily life. In conclusion, let us work together to dispel the fear of numbers and equip children with the numeracy skills they need to succeed in a number-driven world.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”