Is maths trauma a real thing?

We've been teaching kids maths at Matrix Maths for years and we do come across some with varying degrees of math trauma (before we get them thinking differently, of course).

Maths trauma is a debilitating mental shutdown that people face when it comes to doing maths.



We often hear such kids saying they are not good at maths or they panic when it comes to maths tests, or they fear being wrong. These feelings develop from their past experiences with maths.


Some of this can be down to the parents unfortunately, even though their intentions are good.


Be sure not to pass on outdated ideas of what it means to be good at math such as speed and accuracy.


These were important before the days of computers and calculators. The way we use maths today has changed and so has the way we learn it.


Putting pressure on a child to get things right and at speed actually shuts down their working memory so they can't then even begin to cope with the maths problem in front of them.


This is even though in reality, they may have the knowledge to solve the problem. The negative experience then just reinforces their belief that they just aren't good at maths.

At Matrix Math, we believe that all children can do maths. They just need to understand how maths works, not just memorise for the sake of passing tests.


Rote learning creates knowledge that is readily forgotten, and if you as a parent have forgotten the maths you learned at school, it's probably because you did rote learning rather than truly understanding what you were doing and why.


We help our students understand patterns in math and make sense of what they are doing, which promotes deep and flexible understanding so that they can apply the knowledge to new problems.


As a parent, you can help your child by playing games with them such as Sudoku. Ask them always to explain their thinking. Create an environment where there is no such thing as a mistake.


Reframe it so that not having a correct answer doesn’t mean all thinking is incorrect. Ask them to go through their thought process with you so you can both identify what parts work and what needs revision.

Take care not to place your negative beliefs about maths onto your child. This can create a belief in them that they must also suffer to learn mathematics.


If you recognise that you are a survivor of math trauma, that's OK. Know now and through your experience with your child that mathematics is broad and beautiful — you are probably much more mathematical than you think!


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