Most children will master mathematical concepts and skills more readily if they are presented first in concrete, pictorial and symbols.
Everyone is capable of learning, but may learn in different ways.
Therefore, lessons must be presented in a variety of ways.
By using manipulatives, pictures and symbols to model or represent abstract ideas, the stage is set for young learners to understand the abstractions they represent.
Students enjoy the change from lecture and books and they are more inclined to explore with manipulatives and show greater interest in classwork.
Therefore, incorrect responses must be handled in a positive way to encourage student participation and enhance student confidence.
Studies have shown students learn best when they are active rather than passive learners (Spikell, 1993).In conclusion, math anxiety is very real and occurs among thousands of people. Much of this anxiety happens in the classroom due to the lack of consideration of different learning styles of students. Maths anxiety is defined in the research literature as feelings of concern, tension or nervousness that are experienced in combination with maths.[i ] In 2005, researchers in the United States estimated that approximately 20 per cent of the US population were highly maths anxious.[ii] Given the cultural similarities between the US and Australia, we can assume that the percentage would be comparable here. Research in education, cognitive psychology and neuroscience shows that anxiety can lead to a drop in maths performance. Mathematics anxiety has been defined as feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations Math anxiety can cause one to forget and lose one’s self-confidence (Tobias, S., 1993).Research confirms that pressure of timed tests and risk of public embarrassment have long been recognized as sources of unproductive tension among many students.Therefore, teachers must re-examine traditional teaching methods which often do not match students’ learning styles and skills needed in society. For instance, a new concept can be taught through play acting, cooperative groups, visual aids, hands on activities and technology. Teaching mathematics with manipulatives: A resource of activities for the K-12 teacher. As a result once young children see math as fun, they will enjoy it, and, the joy of mathematics could remain with them throughout the rest of their lives. These learners today ask questions why something is done this way or that way and why not this way?Whereas years ago learners did not question the why of math concepts; they simply memorized and mechanically performed the operations needed. Therefore, math needs to be relevant to their everyday lives. To learn mathematics, students must be engaged in exploring, conjecturing, and thinking rather than, engaged only in rote learning of rules and procedures.