Helping students overcome math anxiety and recoup learning loss after COVID will be a challenge--but it's not an impossible one

Multiplying the impact of math catch-up


Helping students overcome math anxiety and recoup learning loss after COVID will be a challenge--but it's not an impossible one

Elementary school education is accumulative, building on whatever instruction came during the prior grade. One year you’re learning polynomials, the next how to graph them, while social studies gradually becomes more nuanced and comprehensive. So, what happens when a break occurs in the educational track? Across the nation, despite teachers’ best efforts, students are suffering from the impact of a year of online learning, and it’s crucial to recoup that lost training and engagement before the chance is lost forever.

Unfortunately, for many children, the turbulence and uncertainty of the past 18 months have resulted in a lack of excitement around studying and learning more generally.  Studies point to a condition called “math anxiety” in young students, which hampers their abilities and ultimately discourages them from pursuing STEM subjects and related careers. A short break in a student’s learning can be a disproportionate blow to their education.

It is not only the break from classroom learning that is impacting math anxiety, but also the pressure to catch up that is putting children through more stress.

Studies conducted by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) suggest that students who suffer from math anxiety and/or phobia have scores that are up to 34 points lower than their counterparts. In real terms, this anxiety translates to one full year of school.

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