Q:

Earlier you wrote about math anxiety being a real phobia that can actually be seen in the brain patterns in the regions associated with problem-solving. We have strengthened our fourth-grader's basic math skills so she can handle her homework OK. However, she still panics on tests and can scarcely answer a question. How can we help her do better on tests? -- Anxious

A:

You have taken the first step in helping your child grasp basic math skills. Now you need to help her learn to unfreeze her mind when she is being tested. Instruct her to begin by looking over the entire test to find just one problem that she can answer. Then she should look for others that she can solve. By solving a few problems, her confidence in her math abilities will be enhanced and she will be ready to go back to the start of the test to solve problems that once seemed impossible. Should she get stuck on a problem, teach her to draw a picture of it to make the solution easier or to use smaller numbers to solve it.