Why Children Are Anxious About Mathematics

Why Children Are Anxious About Mathematics

By Robert Sun

I spent many years working as an electrical engineer, where solving problems was a daily routine. I've also spent more than 30 years helping millions of students discover mathematics.

Here is what I've learned: When a mind is anxious or fearful, it cannot solve even the simplest of problems.

Why are so many children anxious about math? Many are unprepared because they do not practice.

There is no acquired skill that you can get good at without practice, and math is no exception. Learners need immediate feedback to sustain practice, otherwise it quickly becomes a boring, meaningless activity.

Children practice sports because their eyes provide immediate feedback; they practice the piano, and their ears tell them everything they need to know.

Unfortunately, we do not have the same inherent feedback mechanism for math. For math, we rely on another person to provide an assessment as a basis for improvement. But the minute we perform in front of someone else, our mind becomes anxious. We worry about making mistakes and being judged or criticized.

With this problem in mind, I designed First In Math to leverage the power of digital technology and provide children immediate feedback without judgement.

The games start easy to relax the mind. Rigor is introduced on a favorable gradient as success is confirmed. Objectives are designed with a short cycle of play to maintain focus. Mistakes are quickly redirected without penalty.

Students never stagnate when using this design, and often advance far beyond what they imagined possible. Children begin teaching themselves and learning new skills on their own as they strive to push themselves further.

We call this Fearless Practice, and it produces results! To date, players have solved more than 27 BILLION problems on the First In Math platform.

Schools report double-digit increases in standardized test scores. Title I Schools are transformed into Blue Ribbon schools.

A culture of growth, achievement and joy takes root within a school community, where practice and an eagerness to tackle tough problems combine to create fearless learners.

More about Robert Sun, inventor of the 24® Game and creator of FIRST IN MATH® Online

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