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Study: Math-anxious parents can hinder children's math achievement

If math makes you anxious, you may now be able to blame your parents.

New research published in the Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychology, found that children of math-anxious parents learned less math over the school year than those children of parents who were not math-anxious.

The study, led by two University of Chicago psychological scientists, also found that the children of math-anxious parents were more likely to be math-anxious themselves, but only when the math-anxious parents provided frequent help on the child's math homework.

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"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," said Sarah Levine, one of the lead psychological scientists on the study, in a news release.

According to the APS, over 400 students in the first and second grade, along with their primary caregivers, participated in the study. The research looked at the children's math anxiety and achievement at the beginning and end of the school year. As a control, it also looked at a child's reading achievement as it relates to math-anxious parents.

Parents were asked to complete a questionnaire about their nervousness and anxiety when it comes to math. They were also asked how often they help their children with their math homework.

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The research found while reading achievement is not linked to a parent's math anxiety, math achievement may be hindered by parents' math-anxiety.

Researchers say they believe the link between math anxiety and children's math performance has more to do with a parents attitude towards math than it does with genetics. But the researchers did acknowledge there is a possibility there is a genetic component.

Researchers suggest certain tools to help assist math-anxious parents in helping their children see math in a more positive way with the hopes of assisting in achievement. Suggestions included: math books, computer and traditional board games and Internet apps.

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