Parental Anxiety and Children's Learning

Posted on December 6, 2018

A new study has found that parents’ attitudes towards mathematics can predict the learning outcomes of their children.

A new app aimed at improving parental attitudes towards maths predicted similar improvements in their children’s math results. This effect held even when a follow-up was done three years after the families ceased using the app.

The present study recruited 587 students, assigned to either a control group or the group which used the math-app. Data was collected by examining changes in students’ math grades from the first to the third grade. The data showed that those in the math-app condition showed improvements in their grade such that the gap between math-anxious students and their peers were gradually reduced.

These results suggest that when families used the app together, parents’ anxiety about math was gradually reduced and they found the subject less daunting. This reduction in anxiety also made it possible for them to dissociate their anxiety from what they thought was achievable for their children. Prior to the study, parents high in math anxiety tended to exhibit lower expectations for their children’s math results, and also tended to undervalue the importance and usefulness of math for their children. As a result of the intervention, parents were able to lower their anxiety about math, and hence eliminated the undervaluation effect on the importance of math. This process was thought to contribute to more positive parent-child interactions in learning math together which could help explain the better math performance of their children.

The practical implications of this study is further enhanced by the data that showed that children in the control group whose families did not receive the math-app intervention showed less math learning – equivalent to five fewer months of math – than the experimental group.

Previous studies have shown that children of parents who are fearful of math learn less math as a result, prompting researchers to look at how solutions could be proposed to resolve this unhelpful cycle of dreading math and achieving low grades in the subject.

Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Learning Difficulties, Parenting

Source material from Medical Xpress