A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

Attitude Matters in Math, Too

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — With jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields in growing demand, good math skills can equal more opportunities for your child. But what if your child is nervous and hates math?

Improper fraction…imaginary number…finding the common denominator. All these math terms can send your child’s head spinning. But researchers at the University of Iowa and Vanderbilt have found that the way your child feels about math may be able to predict how they perform in the subject. The researchers asked kids ages nine to 12-years-old to solve a multiplication problem while they were in an fMRI scanner. They found children who had lower math skills but positive attitudes towards math showed greater brain activation in the regions of the brain that involved effortful control. The researchers suggest that this may lead to better math performance over time by keeping kids engaged and willing to exert effort to solve problems.

Parents can encourage positive attitudes towards math by working in groups. For example, work together and show how you can use math to solve real-world situations, such as grocery shopping and baking. It’s a lesson that may add up to success.

The research also suggests that the parent’s perception of their own math skills affects their child’s attitude. Parents should promote an attitude of growth in math skills and avoid saying things like, “I am not a math person,” or “I hate math” because these kinds of statements influence children’s attitudes.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

(Source: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0731948719846608)

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