Parent's maths-anxious attitude could partly be blamed for the the child's poor performance in a maths test. Researchers have revealed that when math-anxious parents provide frequent help on the child's math homework, the kids learn less math over the school year and are more likely to be math-anxious themselves.
Lead researchers Sian Beilock from the University of Chicago in the US said, "We often do not think about how important parents' own attitudes are in determining their children's academic achievement. But our work suggests that if a parent is walking around saying 'Oh, I don't like math' or 'This stuff makes me nervous,' kids pick up on this messaging and it affects their success."
The study findings suggest that adults' attitudes toward math can play an important role in children's math achievement. Susan Levine, professor at the University of Chicago, said, "Math-anxious parents may be less effective in explaining math concepts to children, and may not respond well when children make a mistake or solve a problem in a novel way."
For the study, 438 first and second-grade students and their primary caregivers were assessed. Children were assessed in math achievement and math anxiety at both the beginning and end of the academic year. As a control, the research team also assessed reading achievement, which they found was not related to parents' math anxiety. The scientists believe the link between parents' math anxiety and children's math performance stems more from math attitudes than genetics.
The findings appeared in Psychological Science.