You may be surprised to know that an investment in your child's education doesn't necessarily include a deposit into a college savings account. Studies show that a child's academic foundation and resulting success is built upon skills developed as early as kindergarten, so it's never too early to start supplementing their education.
With so many products and programs focused on helping your child learn to read, math skills can easily be lost in the shuffle. While a recent study from Northwestern University concluded that early math proficiency is the most important predictor for a student's academic success, too many children in this country are behind in math and too many parents don't know what to do to help. Parents shouldn't ignore the role math plays in their child's future.
In addition to helping your child with their assigned homework, here are a few tips to help them improve their math skills and build the foundation for a lifetime of successful learning.
Have fun counting
- Find ways to play counting games during the day, such as counting the number of stairs, the number of red cars you pass while driving, and the number of spoons needed to set the table
- Have your child count the number of cookies (or slices of bread) needed for everyone in the family to get two
- Cook with your child and have your child measure the amounts for the ingredients
- Ask your child to find the right coins to pay for an item
Play music together
- March in a parade around the house to the beat
- Beat a simple pattern on a "drum" and have your child copy you. Then have your child be the leader
- Sign your child up for music lessons
Play family games that require math skills
- Play card games like Go Fish, Crazy Eights and Rummy
- Play board games like Candy Land or Checkers or Trouble
- Try Yahtzee
One of the most innovative products created to help kids learn math is DreamBox Learning K-2 Math (www.dreambox.com). The engaging, Web-based adventure was developed to increase learning by placing each child at the correct starting point and continuously adapting all aspects of the experience to make sure kids are learning in a way that meets their particular learning needs and preferences.
Elementary school teacher Kathleen Marshall has been using DreamBox Learning K-2 Math in her classroom and recommends parents use it at home with their children. "I have never before seen 30 students sit mesmerized in front of a computer screen having great fun doing math that is appropriate for their needs," she says. "One of my English Language Learner (ELL) students turned with a glowing grin and said, 'Mrs. Marshall, now I can do math!' I nearly cried."
Math matters and it's as important to give kids a solid understanding of numbers as it is for them to learn how to read. Investing in all aspects of your young child's education is sure to pay dividends throughout their journey into middle school, high school and beyond. Spending time at home counting, organizing and playing math games with your child is not only a great investment in their future, it's a great way to spend quality time together as well.