This is a sponsored guest post.
Math is one of those subjects that children tend to either love or to hate. Children who do well at math often find that the structured, analytic thinking it rewards comes naturally to them. For some math-loving kids, it provides the same problem-solving pleasure they experience when playing with puzzles.
But for other children, math is a struggle: not only is it abstract and, especially in higher grades, seemingly divorced from everyday experience, it can also seem boring and somewhat pointless. “When am I ever going to use this?” these children are often heard to complain.
In some kids, the antipathy is so strong it has been given a name: math anxiety. Math anxiety affects as many as a third of high school students, and it can be a major barrier to learning. The good news is that with the right tutoring support, students can overcome their math anxiety, and can even develop a love of the subject.
Tutoring Lets Students to Move at Their Own Pace
The biggest problem in many of today’s math classrooms is that teachers do not have time to provide the kind of individualized feedback that is often necessary for students to overcome obstacles to learning.
One of the reasons why so many parents hire math tutors is because math tutoring allows students to move at their own pace and focus on their own particular areas of weakness, rather than having to keep up with the rest of their class.
Tutoring Reduces Anxiety
According to a recent study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, one-on-one math tutoring has been shown to relieve anxiety related to solving arithmetic problems, in addition to improving general performance. The senior author of the study, Vinod Menon, suggested that this is because, if math anxiety can be understood as a phobia, tutoring is a kind of exposure-based therapy.
Exposure-based therapy arises from the theory that the way to reduce irrational anxiety or fear is by repeatedly exposing suffering individual to the fear-causing stimulus in controlled environments. This allows them to confront the source of their fear and gradually become more comfortable with it.
Because tutoring takes place in a safe, controlled environment, where students don’t need to be afraid of looking foolish in front of their peers, it can play a vital role in getting rid of math anxiety altogether.
Tutoring Gives Children an Opportunity to Ask Questions
Tutors play a role that is distinct from that of teachers. Where teachers need to be authority figures, tutors can come alongside struggling students and act more as a peer. This makes it easier for children to ask them questions that they might not feel comfortable asking their teacher, like “what is the purpose of this,” and “why do I need to know this.”
The key to getting a child to love math lies in encouraging them to see math as a beautiful and elegant kind of thinking, a system of knowledge that can invoke curiosity and inspire genuine interest.
Because of the unique role tutors play, they are well placed not only to help your child conquer their math anxiety, but to develop a real love for the subject.