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Anxiety predicts math achievement in kindergarten children.

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Svraka, Bernadett 
Álvarez, Carolina 
Szücs, Dénes 


INTRODUCTION: Math anxiety (MA) is an academic anxiety about learning, doing, and evaluating mathematics, usually studied in school populations and adults. However, MA likely has its origins before children go to school. For example, studies have shown that general anxiety (GA) for everyday events is less separable from MA in primary than in early secondary school. This suggests that GA may be a precursor of MA. For this reason, here, we have examined whether GA is already associated with math achievement at the end of kindergarten. METHODS: We tested 488 Hungarian kindergarten children aged 5.7 to 6.9 years (55% girls) and analyzed the effect of GA, sex, and family SES on math achievement in kindergarten children. RESULTS: Strikingly, confirming results from primary school children, we found that GA negatively correlated with math achievement already in this preschool population. Higher GA levels had a stronger negative effect on girls' than boys' math achievement. However, there were no significant sex differences in math achievement in kindergarten. Additionally, family socioeconomic status was the strongest predictor of math achievement. DISCUSSION: We speculate that high GA in preschool is a plausible early precursor of later high MA. Early interventions could aim to control GA levels before children start formal schooling.


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general anxiety, kindergarten, math, preschool, sex, socioeconomic status

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Front Psychol

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Frontiers Media SA