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New Research shows that Math Bedtime Stories Bolster Children’s Math Achievement

November 03, 2015 - Posted to How to: Essay writing tips

Content math bedtime stories bolster children s math achievement  1

New Research shows that Math Bedtime Stories Bolster Children’s Math Achievement

Most parents have math anxiety. They are just a reflection of society as a whole. Simply compare the percentages of college students who major in math fields versus those in any other field, except perhaps physics (which is math-related), and it’s obvious. Only a small minority of adults enter math fields and are really good at it. The rest of us struggle to figure interest, do our taxes, and to help our children with their math homework. In fact, lots of research shows that when parents have math anxiety, it can be transferred to their children, who then will achieve less in math at school.

According to psychological researchers from the University of Chicago, when parents with math anxiety try to help their children with math homework, they make the situation worse. Their anxiety become their children’s anxiety, and that then translates to lower math achievement in school. Further, parents do not talk about math in the home, and this also seems to foster lower achievement in school.

What Happens When Parent Math Anxiety is Relieved?

The same researchers decided to see what would happen if math in the home could be turned into a pleasant parent-child activity and interaction, not related to homework but instead related to math stories with problems to be solved. The hypothesis was that these positive interactions would relieve parent math anxiety and help children to realize that math can be positive and fun. The end result would be improved achievement in math in school.

The Study

Participants in this study were 587 first graders in Chicago schools and their parents. They were provided iPads with an app called “Bedtime Math.” The app presents stories that parents and children read together and then answer questions about the story that involve math. A control group was established that also got iPads with similar bedtime stories but the questions related to reading comprehension, not math.

Children in both groups were tested in math achievement at the beginning and at the end of the school year. As well, parents were given a questionnaire to fill out related to their math anxiety.

The Results

The results were pretty amazing:

  1. Children who used the math-related app tested an average of 3- months ahead of their peers who did not use the math app, at the end of the school year.
  2. Children and parents who used the math app more frequently (at least 3 times a week) had the highest gains in math achievement.
  3. Children who used the math even only once a week had more gains than the children with the reading-related app.

The Implications

What these researchers clearly conclude is that math activities must occur outside of the school if children are going to improve in achievement. They point out that bedtime stories are a normal part of many households, and that these assist in improvements in reading on the part of children. However, math is not an activity that parents normally pursue with their children outside of school, other than homework, and that is not a pleasant, relaxed environment.

Teachers who want math achievement to improve would probably be well-advised to explore the possibilities of at-home math activities that parents and children ca do together that do not relate to homework.

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