Monday, September 3, 2012

Online Math Would Have Been My BFF

When I was a kid I had a mental block when it came to math. It just didn’t always make sense to me. As I think back to those days, I realize most of the instruction I received was via the blackboard and worksheets. I am a visual, tactile--hands-on type student, and that just wasn't popular in those days.

I could work problems lots of times, but I was just going through the steps, I had no real idea why. For example, I knew how to borrow, but certainly had no idea why, or what it entailed. I just knew to mark through the one number and put one number less above it, then put a 1 next the number to the right. It wasn’t until I was much, much older that I figured out what it was all about, and I did that on my own!

Lots of kids need visuals and manipulatives when it comes to math. I sure wish the Internet had been around when I was in school. An online math program would have been my best friend forever, especially when I hit the oh, so, confusing and abstract world of algebra , and the anxiety it presented.  Math anxiety doesn’t just target kids who are confused, or have poor math skills, it smells fear, and it is no respecter of persons. 

In years past, most people noticed math becoming a problem once kids hit about fourth grade, but that is not the case anymore. Younger kids are falling victim today.

In a 2011 study, Stanford University School of Medicine researcher Vinod Menon, Ph.D., looked at this phenomenon using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans of second- and third-graders. While in an fMRI machine, the children were given math problems to complete, allowing the researchers to see how their brains responded. For those with math anxiety, the fear centers in their brains lit up, while the problem-solving regions showed decreased activity.

Resources are available to kids today via the Internet. Gone are the days of hiring a private tutor, and gone of the days of breaking your bank doing that. Much is free, and some that charge are well worth the investment.

If your child is experiencing math anxiety or confusion, blow the clouds away and research online math programs and resources. Technology is actually our friend.

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