There may be more at hand than improving performance, as it has been found that math tutoring reduces anxiety levels in children, who likely feel pressured to do well on what it often pointed as one of the most important subjects in school.
Many have undergone the lectures on the importance of math be it from parents, teachers, professors and, sometimes, our peers, and that has been linked to creating a certain amount of anxiety, especially in young children. Tutoring may be the answer in calming and trimming down those high levels.
A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University has uncovered that one-on-one math tutoring can indeed help children not only perform better on their math test, but also reduce their anxiety when faced with the common problems of the subject.
Researchers gathered an number of 46 students in the third grade, and divided them into two groups. One had displayed high anxiety levels when faced with math problems, and the other low anxiety levels after given a simple test of addition and subtraction, along with MRI scans to monitor their brain activity.
After 8 weeks of tutoring, during which they participated in intensive 22 lessons of one-on-one tutoring in math, children in the high anxiety group showed excellent improvement and, likely, performed much better on their tests.
However, it was better observed by researchers that there was much less activity in fear circuits of the brain, including the brain’s fear centre, the amygdala. Children who had low levels of anxiety, on the other hand, saw no improvement when it comes to the dreaded fear of facing mathematical problems.
It has led to the conclusion that one-on-one tutoring sessions can indeed help with a child’s fear, and it has been noted by researchers that the lessons led to an amelioration of the anxiety itself, instead of forcing the children to develop a coping mechanism against the problem.
The one-on-one tutoring also seemed to fare better than group sessions, due to the reduced worries of a child failing in the face of competition or their peers. It leads to a more relaxed environment, that perhaps both boosts their confidence in their skills and offers a more comfortable setting to focus more on learning, rather than outdoing the others.
According to the researchers, this may pave the way for future studies that examine phobias, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder or even panic disorders. It emphasizes the exposure-based therapies that require patients to essentially face their fears.
For more, it may be math, for others, there are more crippling phobias that include germs, common spiders or birds, but could perhaps be remedied through exposure therapy.
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