This is a guest article from Special Education Teacher Monise Seward, you can find out more about her work on her website – http://www.moniseseward.com/
For the last 8 months, my IG and Twitter posts have focused on two main goals; find (a) Dyscalculia and Dyslexia training; and (b) Math Apps and/or curriculum designed with my students’ needs in mind. Both proved to be challenging and time-consuming endeavours, eventually I found one.
Dyscalculia is the Learning Disability you’ve probably never heard of, despite the fact that 5-10% of the population has it. Based on the challenges non-identified students experience, I believe there are more kids (and adults) with Dyscalculia. We simply characterize their struggles as ‘Math anxiety’; at least, in this country. Based on conversations had with U.S. teachers, few are aware of the existence of Dyscalculia. They are unable to identify the characteristics exhibited by students who may have it. Compounded by a lack of training on Dyscalculia, many teachers adhere to a pacing guide that does not allow time for remediation or accommodations.
Most children find mathematics interesting and to encourage their interest is simpler than you think, as mathematics is a big part of everyday life. In this article we are offering you some ideas, how to create a playful link between mathematics and daily routine.
It’s a vicious cycle. When faced with a number problem you are gripped by anxiety or panic. Clearly, these feelings are no good so you go out of your way to avoid number problems as much as possible. This leads to your becoming less and less “good at math” and the feelings of anxiety increase. Round and round you go until your math anxiety has become a fact of life for you.
Research is currently delving into possible causes of and intervention for math anxiety. One article from youcubed at Stanford University reports that timed tests may be responsible for math anxiety in some cases. Other research at the University of Chicago conducted by psychologist Sian Beilock found that math-anxious parents can pass on this anxiety to their children. A first-person account from a New York Times reporter confirmed this, and mentioned as well the enormous effect of teachers can have on a student’s math anxiety. Still, other factors such as stereotype threat can severely and adversely affect students’ performance on math exams. And of course, math learning disabilities such as dyscalculia can result in a child feeling intense anxiety when asked to deal with numbers.
What possibilities exist for breaking out of the cycle of anxiety-avoidance-poor performance? A recent experiment at Stanford University found that one-on-one tutoring alleviated math anxiety in students by using techniques based on exposure therapy. Students faced their fears of math in a supportive environment and gradually those fears lessened. Breathing techniques for older students at university have also been found to be effective. In the case of a learning disability then early intervention can be key in lessening anxiety caused by numbers.
Are you familiar with math anxiety? Can you trace the anxiety to specific causes? What’s your story?