18 responses to “Get the Anxiety Out of Math – Math for Grownups Book giveaway”

  1. Christine

    What a great book! My now-eighth grade daugther has always “gotten” math, like her father, but whenever she’s needed help with homework she’s ALWAYS gone to him for help. Even when I knew how to solve the problem and could have helped her, she’s always heard me say I am not good at math so she treats me like I’m totally clueless in that area.
    I should have watched what I said!
    Is there any hope of correcting that now?

    1. Laura Laing

      Hi Christine,

      It’s not too late! We don’t always want to share what we’re feeling with our kids — and sometimes that’s the right decision. But since you’ve recognized that you inadvertently sent her the wrong message, you can tell her what you’ve learned. This sends a very powerful message: it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Your daughter may not come to you with questions, but perhaps you can open a door for discussions about math — and even more important things!

      And if your daughter does run into problems with math–and starts to feel anxious about it–she’ll hopefully know that you’re someone she can talk to!


      1. Christine

        This is probably too late, but I have to put it out there. Over the weekend my daughter was working on her makeup work (she missed 4 days last week from her migraine) and needed help with her math. She of course called her dad over to help. He couldn’t answer the question, I did…. and all weekend she asked me for help instead. I told her that it might not have been my easiest subject, but I still was an A student =) We did ask him for help on one I couldn’t remember how to solve, but he couldn’t either, so she emailed her teacher.
        Then I couldn’t figure out a literature assignment (was one of my best subjects in school) but he could – so she’s learning that the stereotypes are not always correct and we can both help her.

  2. MelodyJ

    I love that Laura said allow your kids to fail. The school system is the US is not designed that way. Our society /culture is not designed that way. We must compete. Have you noticed that mostly the kids who always get great grades get the awards, with the exception of Perfect Attendence and Citizenship. Why is there no award for the most improved? Where is the incentive for the kid who went from an F to a C to keep striving? Why are kids pushed to get good so they can possibly make a lot of money in the future? Why aren’t we taught to learn simply for the love of learning and discovery period?


    1. Laura Laing

      Hi MelodyJ,

      You are certainly on to something here. School can be a lot of pressure, but if we offer some low-key ways to look at math at home, we might be able to reduce the anxiety around everyday math.


  3. trish

    Great advice Linda! Allowing kids to fail, talking about anxiety and being open with our mistakes (when appropriate of course!) are all SOOOO important!

    Even thoughI was put in advanced math classes in jr. high I was that kid asking “why do I need to learn this?” and “how am I going to use math in life” …after the novelty and fun of it seeming like a puzzle to solve, I didnt go any farther than algebra 2 because no one could answer my questions.

    Wish this book would have been around then!

    1. Laura Laing

      Believe it or not, teachers really do struggle to answer the question, “When am I going to use this?” I took physics before I had calculus, and I remember in my calculus class thinking how much easier the physics would have been with those math skills! But we have to face it–most folks aren’t doing calculus or even algebra on a daily basis.

      I’m planning a post on my Math for Grownups blog about the practicality of algebra, though. You know when we use basic algebra most often? Spreadsheets!

      Thanks for your comment.


  4. Jenny

    Laura, thank you for the reminder that math concepts will be introduced and then revisited many times, so those who don’t “get it” right away will have another crack at it. My son is anxious about math, anxious about failure, and wants to do it all for himself, so resistant to our help. We hired one of our old child care providers, who is now an elementary school teacher, to introduce some math concepts over the summer, so our son will be seeing them for the second time when they are presented in school. I’m hoping the repetition will ease his anxiety. Any tips for those of us who love math, but whose children don’t love our help with math?

    1. Laura Laing

      A couple of years ago, I subbed in a 4th grade class, while the regular teacher was on maternity leave. Of course, that’s when we hit long division! This is one of the most complex algorithms (processes) to teach, and I was really scared! But I kept reminding myself and my students that long division is one of those skills that comes and goes at first. We get it one month and are totally confused the next. Think of all of the subjects like that: conjugation of French verbs, comma use, the number of sharps and flats in a musical scale. And that’s why all of these things are reviewed over and over.

      As for helping your math anxious kid — I’d say you need to pick your battles. If you want to help him, simply because you like the math, I recommend backing off (especially if he’s really resistent). Find ways to do math more casually. Try gardening, DIY projects, cooking. You can subtly boost his confidence this way. And there’s a big bonus to this: it’s likely that these are the math skills he’ll rely on for the rest of his life!


  5. Sheila Callahan

    I can’t wait to read this book. I’m so determined to overcome my math phobia that I decided to enroll in the elementary education track for my Master’s so that I can finally wrestle my math demons. What I learned in the classroom this summer was that the way they taught math in 1960’s Catholic grammar schools in NJ is completely different from the way it is taught today. Today’s students have a much better chance of developing their own number sense. Hurrah for Laura Laing for having written this book. There are so many of us who avoid numbers or who let them get the better of us– something that is completely unnecessary.

  6. Christine

    Does retweeting the post count? 😉

  7. AM

    My son is an adult so my question concerns me. I’m almost 60 and I’ve been mathphobic (big time) since I was in 6th grade. At that point math just crashed and burned for me and I struggled for the rest of school. Now I am self studying for a designation related to my job (the job itself doesn’t require math ability) but I have to learn some equations for the Time Value of Money for the last exam. I look at that chapter and just freeze. I actually am telling myself “well, if I just skip that part and study real hard, I’ll still pass the test.” This is ridiculous! How do I conquer 50 years of Fear of Math?

    1. Laura Laing

      You are so not alone! So cut yourself some slack. Many people freeze when they see any kind of math.

      In fact, it’s such a common experience that I’ve decided to write a post on my blog about it. I’ll post the link when it’s finished.


    2. Laura Laing

      I wrote a post to address your question, AM. http://mathforgrownups.com/2011/08/17/feeling-anxious-about-math-heres-how-to-cope/. Hope it helps!


  8. AM

    I just tweeted this (as RamblinGarden). I would love a book to help me overcome this fear.

  9. AM

    And, I just posted this on my Facebook wall, too.

  10. joskidiesel

    I am a middle school math teacher and often come across students who have built up anxiety towards math as well as their parents. A lot of the anxiety comes from how their parent react towards their assignments. It’s amazing to me as an educator how deep rooted students’ feelings are towards math. It is a challenge and a reqarding experience when they finally get it. I love this book and I think it would be a great tool for any adult, parent, and educator to help make the process more comfortable and smooth. I have tweeted and like the facebook page as well. Thanks.

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