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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Mustering up some math courage

Posted February 19, 2010 7:41 p.m. EST

After the relentless cycle of keeping up with a wide variety of complex news topics, I came home to one of my biggest challenges of the week … my daughter’s first grade math homework. It’s not that I can’t do math. I just have anxiety about doing math. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m coming out publicly (and probably at my own expense).

I read the instructions for her homework more than once out of fear that I would get it wrong. I had visions of my six-year-old as a teenager coming home with an “F” on her report card – even sitting at a table with a math tutor after being held back a year because her mom didn’t give her a good foundation in this very important subject. There it is, that same anxiety I’ve felt so many times before!

As I stared at the homework with my daughter patiently waiting by my side, my husband said, “What’s wrong?” I thought… this isn’t just about her homework anymore. Just the other day, I read about a study that focused on female elementary school teachers who have anxiety about math. Apparently, they can make their female students skittish about the subject too! I’m sure the same thing happens when moms second guess their math abilities in front of their young daughters.

So it was time for me to face my fears. And just as I got ready to do so, I heard my daughter’s voice. “Here’s how you do it mom,” she said with the kind of enthusiasm that energized the whole room. Whew. I was off the hook, at least for that one moment in time.

Moments like these make me thankful for teachers, the unsung heroes who are WAY more qualified to teach math concepts to young minds. Until the next time, I’ll be mustering up my math courage to keep my anxiety from becoming infectious.

Aysu Basaran is the busy mom of three girls and assistant news director for WRAL-TV.