How Can Self-Talk Boost Math Scores? Science Has an Answer

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Recent research from the University of Amsterdam may have found a way to help your child succeed at school—or at least boost their math performance.

It’s no big secret that kiddos talk to themselves. This study, published in the journal Child Development, looked at the impact self-talk had on school performance. Specifically, the researchers explored how effort-related self-talk affected math achievement.

photo: Pragyan Bezbaruah via Pexels

The researchers divided 212 fourth through sixth graders into three groups. After taking half of a standardized math test, one group engaged in effort-based self-talk, one used ability-based self-talk and the third didn’t use self-talk. The students then went on to finish the test. In comparison to the ability-based self-talk and no self-talk groups, the effort-based self-talk group performed better.

Eddie Brummelman, an assistant professor of child development at the University of Amsterdam and co-author of the study told CNN, “Our study found that the math performance of children with low self-confidence benefits when they tell themselves that they will make an effort.” Brummelman added, “We did not find the same result among children with low self-confidence who spoke to themselves about ability. Self-talk about effort is the key.”

—Erica Loop



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