PARENTINGSquare Root of Kids’ Math Anxiety: Their Parents’ Help

Jan Hoffman:

A common impairment with lifelong consequences turns out to be highly contagious between parent and child, a new study shows.

The impairment? Math anxiety.

Means of transmission? Homework help.

Children of highly math-anxious parents learned less math and were more likely to develop math anxiety themselves, but only when their parents provided frequent help on math homework, according to a study of first- and second-graders, published in Psychological Science.

Researchers tested 438 children from 29 public and private schools in three Midwestern states for math ability as well as math anxiety, at the beginning and end of the school year. Their parents completed questionnaires about math anxiety, and about how often they helped their children with homework.