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Overcoming your fear of Math

Updated on May 8, 2012

Ask any student which subject is the most difficult or the one they hate the most? Three out of every six may just blurt it out and say it is math of course! I don’t blame them because in a way, it is so true, maths can be quite scary. Many students believe that mathematics can be quite difficult especially when someone is seriously lacking in the basic arithmetic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

But it is not supposed to be that way. In fact, of all subjects that are taught in the schools, it is only mathematics that is closest to reality whereby one can easily apply the methodological knowledge and reasoning of finding solutions to mathematical problems in everyday real life activities or events.

Math can actually be your best subject in school but only on one condition – you have to be ready and prepared to do whatever it takes before that can happen or else…

Another “I hate math. I am always failing mathematics” story is repeated once more.

So let us now see how we can start overcoming our fear of mathematics and thereby start making math our best friend in school as from today.

You have to tell yourself Math is not scary

This is one of the greatest problem suffered my math phobia students. Somehow the fears of tackling mathematics problems cloud their minds so much that they won’t feel that desire to excel in math. They will not hesitate to tell you as a form of excuse that mathematics is not their thing. What they may have failed to see is that nothing in this life is anybody’s thing. This is because we can learn anything we really want to learn if only the desire to learn is there. Adequate math skills, just like any other skill, can be acquired. But first, you must remove all fear of math. You must be more than ready to psychologically tell yourself that math is easy!

Practice makes perfect

You have been hearing that statement but have you ever given it some thoughts or even tried to apply that truth in it in solving your math phobia? Yes, practice can make perfect. If you want to become good in something, one way to go about it is by constant practice. By practicing mathematics and extending such logical reasoning and practices into daily life, you stand to gain a lot because you will surely develop that necessary skills needed to solve problems in all areas of one’s life. Always try to see if you can do sums in your head without necessarily writing things down. One other important thing, by practicing maths of daily basis, one can’t fail but notice the mental alertness that will certainly come with the package!

But remember, always practice constantly at your own pace.

Master the basics

Yes. Master the basics. When I try teaching some folks math, I always encounter this major problem. Many people still don’t get it, that is, the basics of mathematics.

Almost everything you do in mathematics basically comes down to addition and subtraction. Multiplication itself is nothing but repeated addition whereas division is nothing but repeated subtraction. In fact, subtraction itself can be done through addition which is exactly the way computers do it.

So why won’t you try to become good in addition and subtraction? Stick with the basics at first and avoid tackling the most difficult math problems.

After you must have mastered your addition and subtraction, it is now time to be introduced into some other little details that you must confront in mathematics if you really want to excel in the subject. These include improper fractions, percentages, ratios and rates. These minor details can make or mar our quest for success in math.

Last but not the least, you must always remember the mathematical rule of BODMASBracket.Of.Division.Multiplication.Addition.Subtraction which is the order in which mathematical operations are to be performed.

Ask for help

Asking for help is one way to get over your fear of mathematics as well as start excelling in the subject. Don’t be shy. There are many people around who are good in the subject and they are ready to help you - friends, classmates, family members, teachers, internet and in fact, even ME so you can never be short of help.

We are all ready to help out but you must first indicate your interest and willingness to learn before anything meaningful can be kick started.

So in a way, it all falls back on you. For you to completely overcome your fear of math, you must be ready to identify the areas where you think you are so weak in the subject.

Try as much as possible to avoid using negative statements such as “I hate maths”, “I can’t do it!” because such statements have a way of always working against you. Each time you find yourself trying to use such statements, why don’t you try something like, “I must learn this part, come hail; come sunshine” and then you reinforce that statement by practicing just a little bit and with determination or by seeking for help, sooner than later, I know you will surely see that mathematics is in you!


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    • profile image

      rozb 4 years ago

      Yes! Thanks so much. I will be in touch with an assessment of where they are now. I will also provide you with a copy of their summer math packet so you can get an idea of where they need to be. I am so grateful and am looking forward to collaborating with you.

      All the Best,


    • Emmyboy profile image

      Emmyboy 4 years ago from Nigeria

      Wow Rozb! I am so flattered.

      Of course, I am interested and I will so much like to help because I am the one who said "ask for help" and I believe that is exactly what you've just done!

      And I know you won't be disappointed! Your kids are going to love math, it's a promise!

      Once again, thank you so much for reading and for your compliment.

    • profile image

      rozb 4 years ago

      Emmyboy, you rock. This is great and all true. I'll be reteaching my children the basics this summer and would love to set up a weekly skype session with you to encourage them AND prove I'm not crazy (you must master the bascis!). When you've mastered the basics math becomes an adventure. Let me know if you're interested.


    • Emmyboy profile image

      Emmyboy 5 years ago from Nigeria

      Good. Amanda, maybe math is so difficult to you because you've only tried and tried...

      You didn't try, try and try it?

      No need to feel stupid because once you finally get it right, you will have reasons to shout "eureka"!

      Thanks for reading.

    • AmandaWrites profile image

      AmandaWrites 5 years ago

      I'll have to remember this when I start my mathematics class. I'm absolutely terrified of doing math because when you try and try, and STILL don't get the right answer , sometimes it makes me feel stupid! It is very discouraging but I guess in the end I'll just have to practice the basics harder.

    • Emmyboy profile image

      Emmyboy 5 years ago from Nigeria

      Anjili you are so correct. Nothing is comparable to that situation when your students really understand the whole concept and everything that was difficult to them before in Math suddenly become so so easy!

      Keep it the good job in teaching them with that your style and thanks for reading!

    • Anjili profile image

      Anjili 5 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      A good attempt at making maths palatable. As a teacher of maths, I believe the greatest damage is done by both the teacher an parent.

      A bad maths teacher fails to inspire the learner by showing how to apply mathematical skills in real life.

      I try to make my lessons interesting by just using words, life examples, todays news items and day-to-day experiences.

      A good teacher shouldn't just tell. They should be part of the lesson and involve the learner too.

      Passive learning is a terrible error.

      I love it when I leave my students clapping their hands in jubilation after a maths lesson.