5. Relate mathematics to the real world.
When students are young, math is a concrete and very real part of their lives. They enjoy counting, playing number games, finding shapes, and looking for patterns. As students get older, however, math becomes more abstract and students begin to have a harder time seeing a place for mathematics in their everyday lives. Math anxiety begins to fester, and many students decide that math is just not for them.
Show math as a tool that can be used to solve real-life problems. Use proportional reasoning as a way to find the best deal when given different options packaged in different ways. Talk about interest rates, scholarships, and school loans. Be ready to answer the question “When will I ever use this?” when you introduce a new topic in your classroom. Regularly highlight different careers that utilize mathematics in varied and meaningful ways.
It will take time to change students’ attitudes about math, but making these simple modifications in your classroom can go a long way toward eliminating your students’ math anxiety.