Math at home adds up to achievement in school

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Science  09 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6257, pp. 196-198
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac7427

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A little bit of math goes a long way

Children's emerging language skills are supported when their caregivers read to them at home. Math skills, however, are often relegated to the schools. Berkowitz et al. developed a mobile-device app designed to help caregivers bring a little bit of math into the home. Improved math skills were apparent within months for elementary school students. Improvements were most dramatic in families where the caregivers reported themselves to be anxious about math.

Science, this issue p. 196


With a randomized field experiment of 587 first-graders, we tested an educational intervention designed to promote interactions between children and parents relating to math. We predicted that increasing math activities at home would increase children’s math achievement at school. We tested this prediction by having children engage in math story time with their parents. The intervention, short numerical story problems delivered through an iPad app, significantly increased children’s math achievement across the school year compared to a reading (control) group, especially for children whose parents are habitually anxious about math. Brief, high-quality parent-child interactions about math at home help break the intergenerational cycle of low math achievement.

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