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Tutor Tuesday - Maths Anxiety 

Rebecca Thompson


While mathematics is often considered a hard subject, not all difficulties with the subject result from a learning  difficulty. Many children and adults experience feelings of anxiety when confronted by a maths problem. It is also thought that girls are more affected than boys. 

 Maths anxiety can be so severe “that it appears the child cannot do any maths at all, but really it is the anxiety that is the barrier, not the maths.”

Judy Hornigold

 Understanding Maths Learning Difficulties

It can have physical effects (such as nail biting and stomach aches) as well as psychological symptoms, leading to low self-esteem and a difficulty recalling facts

In ‘From Science to Education,’ Brian Butterworth has more recently stated that “children with dyscalculia were twice as likely to have high anxiety,” which can lead to avoidance. In fact, any testing situation will raise anxiety levels. Additional information can also be found in the Cambridge University report on maths anxiety.

The trouble with anxiety is that it can disrupt working memory. Working memory is associated with learning: the ability to hold and manipulate information over short periods of time, such as in mental arithmetic. A student may perform poorly not because of a weakness in maths or working memory, but due to maths anxiety preventing them from using their brain-power efficiently.

How can those with maths anxiety be identified and supported?

Check out Rebecca's full article here -

There is further information on dyscalculia,  screening for dyscalculia or for a full diagnostic assessment at [email protected].



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