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How to Overcome Math Anxiety

Math Anxiety

One of the most common tutoring requests we receive relates to struggles with math and in particular, math anxiety.

For many students, doing math homework or the thought of writing math tests or exams can cause negative thoughts from the fear of failure.  It can also lead to challenges with the disruption of working memory, which is key to succeed in math even at a young age.

Math anxiety can be caused by a number of things including:

  • Public fear: Having a bad experience answering a question incorrectly in class
  • Time pressure on tests or exams
  • Reliance on learning math through memorizing procedures rather than truly understanding the concepts

We asked our team of math tutors for their advice on how to succeed with learning, studying and writing math exams / tests:

1) Ask questions from your teacher or peers, whether it is in class or after school

2) Be consistent & persistent.  Learn from mistakes and keep trying problems and questions that you have challenges in to learn.  Working consistently on math will help to build a base of skills over time.

3) Start small: For the first couple of days spend 15-30 minutes on math and as you build confidence work on longer and more challenging problems.

4) Make math fun through interests.  For example if a student likes sports, connect math to sports themes.

5) Practice regularly, especially if you are having challenges with a specific concept.  Having worked through a specific problem or question in the past will help you succeed during test or exam time.

6) Last and more important, have a positive attitude and re-position challenges into positive experiences.

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Summer Math Games

The summer is a great time for your children to spend with friends and family along with enjoying the fun Toronto activities.

However, with a two month break from school, students can often forget some of their math skills from the prior school year.  Below are some fun math games to play with your daughter or son over the summer to prepare them for the fall:


Math Games l PBS Kids:  The PBS network has a great list of close to 100 games that cover topics like: measurement, geometry, shapes, counting, patterns, graphs and fractions.


What Coins Do I Have:  This is a great game for students to begin to understand the variables for algebra.  Mention you have 3 coins in your pocket that are worth a certain value.  Ask your child what three coins you have.  For example: There are three coins in my hand that total 16 cents.  What 3 coins do I have?  (a dime, a nickel, a penny).


Motion Math Games:  Creator of fun math games that can be downloaded as apps to your tablet.   The games are designed for a variety of grade levels and students with different math skill levels.


Math Play – Online Games:  A ton of fun online math games designed for elementary and middle school grade levels.


Bounce Count:  This is a great game for younger elementary school students to play as a group.  Have children sit in a circle.   The first child bounces the ball to another child and counts how many bounces there were.  The second child bounces the ball back and either adds or subtracts to the initial count.   


Number of the Week:  This is a great game for elementary students to practice numeracy.  For each week of the summer pick a Number of the Week.  Make a set of questions on cue cards (example: divide by 2) and have your child answer the question with their number of the week.

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