Dear LA Teacher,
I don’t do numbers. I’m lousy at math and I’m afraid my kids will turn out the same way. My daughter is 2 and my son is 4. What can I do to make them comfortable with Math?
Dear Arithmetic Dunce,
You aren’t the only reluctant mathematician in America. According to an article in the February 25, 2013 issue of Time magazine, “Beyond Counting Sheep,” American students rank 25th out of 34 industrialized countries in math.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck, a Princeton trained astrophysicist and mom is aware of the problem. That is why she launched the Bedtime Math website. She says, “Everyone knows they should read a book to their kids before bed, but nobody knows they should be doing math, too.”
There are three levels of questions—Wee Ones (Pre-K), Little Kids (K- 2nd grade), and big kids (2nd- 4th/5th). In March, Bedtime Math will be displaying problems for tweens and teens. All you need to do is log onto the Bedtime Math website for your child’s daily problem. Here are examples for each level.
Pre-K: If mommy’s camera can snap 2 pictures every minute, how many pictures can she take in 4 minutes?
Little Kids: What is the largest 2-digit number? What is the largest 3-digit number?
Big Kids: Whenever you need to find information on the Internet, just Google for it. A “Googol” is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. How many more zeros does this number have than 1000?
[Answers: Pre-K- 8 pictures; Little Kids- 99, 999; Big Kids- 97]
If your child can’t do the arithmetic in his head, provide manipulatives like toothpicks or spoons to help him solve the problem.
Everyday the folks at Bedtime Math blog a new set of math problems with answers, so don’t worry about devising your own.
Though Bedtime Math has only been active for a year, there is strong evidence of its success. Last summer Bedtime Math problems were given to kids attending New Jersey Boys and Girls Club. More than 70% of these low-income students improved their math skills after a six-week session.
My advice to parents is to integrate Bedtime Math into their children’s bedtime routine. That way kids will become more comfortable with numbers and I’m sure “Arithmetic Dunces” will improve their math skills, too.