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What is Math Anxiety?

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What is Math Anxiety?

Math anxiety is worse than a regular checkup at the dentist.

by Charmaine J. Forde.

Mathematics is a crucial skill because it applies to all dimensions of life. Despite its importance, it often triggers negative emotions than all the other subjects in school. Complex formulas, numerous figures, and myths contribute to a negative attitude towards the subject. Some people question why they need to learn some math concepts while they don’t apply them in real life. As a result, most students lack confidence in math and suffer math anxiety.
Click HERE to learn how you can bring back your child’s confidence in Math.


Math anxiety is an ongoing fear and tension that a student experiences when completing or anticipating a mathematical task (Sokolowski & Ansari, 2017). Math anxiety can also be described as nervousness and increased physiological reactivity when dealing with a math problem, such as number manipulation, solving a mathematical equation, or evaluating a situation related to math (Luttenberger et al., 2018).


Math anxiety is a global problem that affects people of all ages (Luttenberger et al., 2018). About 93% of Americans say that they have experienced math anxiety at some point in their lives. It is also estimated that about 17% of Americans suffer high levels of math anxiety. In a research sample of adolescents apprentices conducted in the United Kingdom, 30% of the participants reported extreme levels of math anxiety, while 18% reported math anxiety to a moderate extent(Luttenberger et al., 2018). Research conducted on 10,000 Italian students indicates that more girls suffer mat anxiety compared to boys.


Students and individuals who believe they are deficient in math are more likely to suffer math anxiety. A general feeling that mathematics is more complex than other subjects accelerates the anxiety. Math anxiety may also occur when students learn tricky maths such as algebra (Sokolowski & Ansari, 2017). Besides these causes, parents, teachers, and teaching approaches contribute a lot in causing math anxiety.

The Teacher:

The teacher can increase math anxiety accidentally by triggering existing negative belief systems around math. For example, in the quest to motivate students, a teacher may provoke math anxiety if unrealistic expectations are given.

Our math tutors are determined to change our student’s experience with Math, from overwhelmed challenges to challenges that are thrilling to overcome. Not only do they help your child overcome math anxiety, but they also help them to develop foundational skills, a comprehensive math understanding, and how it relates to real-life situations.


Parents need to be mindful of their math language and offer excitement around the subject. Much too often, parents openly talk of their dislike about the subject of math when they were in school. Some parents hold many beliefs about math, therefore unknowingly transferring those same worries, anxiety, and fear to their children.

Teaching Approach:

Another major cause of math anxiety is the use of the “explain-practice-memorize” teaching approach. Daily application of this approach can cause boredom, a negative attitude, and a lack of interest in math. Instead, teachers should come up with more creative and friendly policies. They can, for example, involve students more in solving a problem and use visual aids more than paperwork.

Other Circumstances that Causes Math Anxiety

  • Past poor performance
  • Authoritative or threatening teacher figure
  • Emphasis on speed/ math speed drills (Teacher should elaborate purposes of math drills)
  • Negative comments from the teacher
  • Inability to Complete assignments


Emotional Symptoms:

  • Feelings of inadequacy or helplessness
  • Fear of failure
  • Withdrawal and lack of confidence
  • Stress
  • Confusion
  • Shutting down or poor concentration

Physical Symptoms:

  • Irregular breathing
  • Sweating
  • Heart racing
  • Biting nails
  • Nausea


At Kids on the Yard, we use whole child and personalized approaches to help your child overcome math anxiety and excel in the subject. Through number sense application, we help students to think fluently and flexibly. Our tutors include problem-solving skills that teach children to stop and think before acting on any math problem. They also handle math anxiety by applying critical thinking, learning and relearning math concepts, and using different viewpoints to promote students’ understanding.

Don’t hesitate to CONTACT US for more information and insights about Math and reducing Math anxiety.

Luttenberger, S., Wimmer, S. Paechter, M. (2018). Spotlight on math anxiety.NCBI. Retrieved from

Sokolowski, .M. & Ansari, D. (2017). Who Is Afraid of Math? What Is Math Anxiety? And What Can You Do About It? Frontiers for Young Minds Journal. Retrieved from

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