I remember watching Count Von Count on Sesame Street when I was little. “Greetings, It is I, the Count. They call me the Count because I love to count things.” He would finish whatever he was counting (cookies, bats, feelings) and end with a maniacal laugh, “AH, AH, AH.” Fake lightening and thunder would flash and roar in the background. It was awesome.
I would like to think the Count started my affection for math, but I’m pretty sure I’d be romanticizing the past if that were the case. What I loved about this character, besides his monocle, was that he made math fun.
As a teacher, one of the most disheartening events I witnessed year after year was the early attitude my students had towards math. At the age of 8, they were already self-deprecating about their mathematical abilities: “I’m not good at math”, “I don’t understand numbers”, “I’ll never get this”, “Math is too hard for me.” They were giving up before they had even started.
Research shows that early math skills are a better predictor of academic success than reading ability. So how do we fix this? I believe the key is helping kids see that math can be enjoyable from an early age. This will help build their confidence and provide a foundation for future learning.
There is a non-profit organization called Bedtime Math that is trying to achieve this. Their mission is “to help kids love math as much as playtime or dessert.” At first their mission statement made me a little skeptical, because let’s be honest, a math problem will never make me as happy as a cookie, but I truly believe in what they are doing.
Here are some questions and answers about Bedtime Math that often arise when I talk to parents. Hopefully this information will inspire you to try it out with your children.
When did Bedtime Math start?
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck founded Bedtime Math in 2012. She and her husband started giving their children math problems every night before bed and discovered they loved them. She started sharing her daily problems with friends and family and quickly realized she was onto something.
What is Bedtime Math?
Bedtime Math started with a simple idea: “We all know parents need to read to their kids at night, but what about math?” In order to make it a part of the nightly routine, this organization creates zany problems for you to do with your kids each night. Each problem begins with a paragraph about a topic and is followed by a set of questions leveled by difficulty. The topics are engaging and informative for both adults and kids.
Here’s an example of their June 5th problem::
What are the age ranges of these problems?
You know your child better than anyone so you can choose the level of difficulty based on their individual ability. Here’s a rough range for the different levels:
Wee Ones (Preschool), Little Ones (Kindergarten-1st), Big Kids (2nd-3rd), Bonus and Sky’s the Limit (3rd-on).
How can I get the daily problems?
You can sign up for daily emails, download their free app, or go directly to their website or Facebook page.
Do I have to do these at bedtime?
Absolutely not! These could be done at any time of the day. You could call it Breakfast Math, Car Math, Bath Time Math, etc. Whatever you call it, the important thing is exposing kids to math in a way that’s enjoyable, rather than stressful.
Is there a summer program that will help prevent the “summer slip”?
Yes! Bedtime Math has teamed up with the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) this summer to provide both reading and math programs in 16,000+ libraries across the country. This year in collaboration with their “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer program, CSLP will also be offering Bedtime Math’s Summer of Numbers Program. Kids track their daily math problems on a constellation map and will be rewarded at the end of the summer. Check to see if your local library offers this program!
Website: Bedtime Math
Books by Laura Overdeck:
Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late, Bedtime Math: This Time It’s Personal
Laura’s TedX talk:
Allergic To Algebra :math anxiety in women and girls and how to help it.
Bedtime Math is just one of many ideas out there, but is one that I am excited about. I hope it will lead to more confident students who believe in their mathematical ability. I hope it will help kids see that math is everywhere and is important in their daily lives. I hope, at the very least, Bedtime Math makes your children love ” to count all things. AH, AH, AH!”