Math PK-2

Systems Change

Factor Connections

Hover to see how factors connect to Emotion. Then click connected factors to explore strategies related to multiple factors.

Emotions are complex psychological states stemming from a person's experiences. They affect our minds and bodies and therefore can support or hinder learning. Feeling safe and accepted has particular impact on learning, as anxiety can overtax the brain, making it harder for a student to reason with numbers and solve math problems.

Main Ideas

Several aspects of Emotion can drive mathematical development:

  • Emotion knowledge, understanding what the emotion is, begins to develop in early childhood and contributes to academic success.
  • Emotion regulation is the ability to control emotional arousal in order to learn adaptive functioning (the ability to complete daily tasks, cope with changes in the environment, and function successfully in a classroom) and is an important aspect of social competence.
  • Mental health is the combination of our emotional and psychological well-being and adjustment. Emotions are dynamic and will always fluctuate over time, so it is normal to experience both positive (e.g., excitement, joy) and negative (e.g., anxiety, depression) emotions. However, students who tend to experience more positive than negative emotions overall, and who are able to successfully manage and minimize stress, will have better overall psychological well-being.

Evidence suggests that Emotion knowledge is vital for Emotion regulation, and Emotion regulation impacts many academic skills, including the development of early math skills.

Math anxiety is a specific Emotion associated with discomfort around doing math and can negatively impact math performance and self-confidence. Providing extra support for students to feel more positively about math can help shift their mindsets and boost their self-confidence. See Stereotype Threat for more discussion of this impact.

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