In the history of schooling in Nigeria, we highly doubt that there has been a subject that has been a significant cause of worry, anxiety, and fear as much as maths. The science subject is infamous for scaring students while studying and writing examinations.

Most of us have had at least one torrid experience while studying maths. These experiences have made us have phobia for maths for a long time. Even worse, some people have developed psychological issues due to the fear of learning mathematics. It means that you need to overcome your fear of maths.

Therefore, it is pertinent that we find lasting solutions to this problem. Various questions have been raised: what are the most feasible methods to get over the fear of maths? How can a student comprehend maths lessons? Read on to find out our five best hacks. Find out strategies and tools to learn maths.

Feeling Anxious and Panicking

Maths is an integral part of primary and secondary education in Nigeria. Therefore, every Nigerian student has to take maths lessons before specialising in the tertiary level. Because the subject is inescapable, it has given many students sleepless nights and terrible dreams.

The ‘fear of maths’ is a prevalent condition that many Nigerian students suffer from. It is common to hear a student say, “Oh, I do not like maths, and I do not know how to pass my exams.” When this happens, it causes anxiety and fear in the student. Worse still, the student loses morale and starts to panic.

At that point, psychological issues set in, and the situation is worsened by parents/wards or teachers who do not understand the forces at play and are too eager to see a student ace an exam. However, the brewing psychological blockage needs to be halted ASAP by employing the use of tools and strategies that are poised to overcome the problems posed by maths.

Students suffer mental blockages as a result of being afraid of maths. (source: kali9)

5 Hacks to Overcome The “Fear of Maths”

Enrol For Private Maths Tuition

Maths anxiety can be caused by different factors that affect a student’s thoughts. Some of them include:

  • Finding it challenging to comprehend specific maths problems.
  • An impatient teacher who isn’t approachable by students or is regarded as harsh.
  • A shy student or a student with low self-esteem might consider it difficult to contribute or ask questions during a maths class.
  • Undue pressure from parents/wards.

If a student has one or more of these problems, it is only standard for such a student to fear maths. Therefore, one of the best option to stop a student from being afraid of mathematics is by hiring an online private maths tutor. Since it’s online, it’s best for the parent /ward to hire a tutor who is tech-savvy and is willing to offer tuition online.

A student who has lost hopes of comprehending mathematics can find private tuition with a dedicated maths tutor beneficial.

The regular Nigerian school setting comprises various students in a classroom receiving lessons from a teacher. In such a situation, it is hard for the teacher to pay special attention to struggling students. Therefore, a private lesson at your home with a tutor is another great option. It means that the student has the undivided attention of the tutor and can ask questions when there is any. Moreso, the tutor can have open conversations with the student and find out where the student is lagging.

A tutor explains a math concept to a secondary student during a tutoring session. (source: SDI Productions)

As much as it comes at an extra investment, private tuition is a wise investment for parents/wards because it betters the educational prospects of their children/wards. It will only take a private tutor a few classes to find out where the problem lies, proffer solutions, provide quality lessons, and motivate the student to do better. It isn’t the same as the regular school teacher in a classroom.

Use of applied and relevant study resources

It is usual for students to find math jargon in association with formulas and intricacies quite challenging. It is why we introduce applied study resources.

Picture this: a primary school student wants to calculate 5 + 5. Take a box of matchsticks and ask the student to count 5 of them and place it on one side. After that, tell the student to count another 5 and place them on a different side. When that is done, ask the student to bring the matchsticks together and count everything. In that context, those matchsticks are applied study resources.

When students learn how to use these study resources, you’ll find out that photographic memory is required for practical maths learning. These methods do not appear as formal, but they work. Students think of them as fun and are eager to use them. Therefore, if a student needs maths help, these applied study resources should be the first port of call.

Reading advanced books specially curated for maths

There are occasions when the traditional method of learning at school proves ineffective. A student only regards his/her math books and homework as a visible source of psychological problems and trauma. When it gets to that stage, there is little or nothing a parent/ward can do. Therefore, the next option can be to purchase books that specialize in helping a student overcome the fear of maths.

The first task can be purchasing other math exercise books that tackle the particular problems a student is facing, but with entirely different teaching approaches. For many students, they have developed the fear of maths because the books and teaching methods they are used to are too complicated for their comprehension. Therefore, they only view maths as a subject beyond their understanding, and they exhibit fear when a discussion around maths comes up.

Besides, different people have authored books that border on people experiencing blockages in maths, and these books proffer solutions for them.

An example of such books is ‘Fear Of Math: How to Get Over It and Get on With Your Life!’ by Claudia Zaslavsky. In the book, Claudia mentions that many people across every human race have shied away from anything on maths due to the immeasurable fear they have for the subject. She identifies that social stereotypes, low quality of education, and ignorant parents/wards have convinced students not to do maths. Also, she provides different practical methods to tackle this fear and other math problems.

Here are 10 of the best apps and tools you can use to learn maths.

Pointing out the causes

Often, teachers reassure their students that no one is born to be terrible at maths. However, it isn’t enough to `motivate students who are overwhelmed with the problems posed by maths. It still doesn’t invalidate the fact that a student struggling with maths today can turn out to become a maths guru in the future. This process is gradual. The first step is to find the root cause of the whole problem.

Experts have opined that maths blockage starts from personal or familial problems. Psychoanalysis is essential to prove back up these claims.

A student might have psychological problems affecting maths comprehension because of apathy for maths. Many people detest maths naturally and do not want to be associated with the subject. Also, some of these students have heard tales from the past and have concluded that maths is a no-go area. Furthermore, some students suffer from low self-esteem, and they cannot seek help from others for fear of being scorned.

On the other hand, familial problems can be the root cause of the difficulties many students face. Some family members may have encountered difficulties while studying in the past, and the mentality has been passed on to siblings who are current students. Besides, there are family members who insinuate that studying maths can be very hard for students, and it instils unnecessary fear in these students.

You should note that maths learning is for everyone.

It is noteworthy that teachers and their methods of teaching can affect a student’s perception of mathematics. For students who find teaching methods too complicated, it is apparent that they will find learning maths difficult, and that can develop some unwarranted fear in them.

We are less relationship with maths than other subjects like English because of the frequency of use. English is Nigeria’s official language, and students make use of it every time. It doesn’t take away the emotional relationship humans share with mathematics.

Revisiting Maths Basics

There are moments when a student attempts advanced mathematics but finds it difficult. It doesn’t mean that such a student has reached his/her limits (the truth is, we are limitless when trying to learn mathematics). It can mean that the student’s foundation isn’t solid. The student might not have a comprehensive understanding of basic maths concepts, formulas, terms, etc.

In light of this, Superprof Nigeria recommends that it is essential that such a student revisits the foundation and learns the basics of maths. You might wonder what the need is.

Imagine you are tackling a maths problem that involves the use of Pythagoras theorem. People familiar with the formula understand that finding the square of some numbers is vital to get an accurate answer. If you do not know how to find the square of a number, you’ll find it difficult to solve any problem that involves Pythagoras Theorem.

Alternatively, you can play maths games to improve your learning.


you need basic maths knowledge to solve a maths problem using Pythagoras theorem. (source: FrankRamspott)

Therefore, you need to retrace your steps and start from the basics. A solid foundation is instrumental in overcoming mental blocks when studying mathematics.

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