Because it’s not enough that your preschooler or kindergartner can build an amazing sand castle and (almost) tie her own shoes — now you have to worry about her math skills. It’s not completely without reason, according to a study published in the California Watch, that strong math skills are a key predictor of future academic success, along with reading and attention. Still, where to find quality math help can feel daunting, especially when it seems like every toy and educational television show claims math-boosting power.
Computer Math Support — Separate from School
Games like MathBlasters and Leapster help young kids develop basic quantitative skills and number recognition in a way that may often be more appealing than drilling flashcards. The bad news is that there are literally hundreds of websites, games and software that advertise “fun math games for kids.” Some are free, or available for a fee online, but some are quite expensive and, like Leapster, require their own electronic devices. If you’re interested in computerized math support at home, speak with your child’s teacher and ask her opinion for the best programs.
After-school programs in math enrichment are often available through your child’s school or a local community center. These programs can range from cooking classes that focus on quantity and measurement to chess classes for tiny ones not yet in kindergarten. While these programs provide exposure to new mathematical concepts and principles, if she struggles in a particular area, such as addition, there’s no guarantee that a chess or cooking class will emphasize addition skills as often as she needs.
School-Supported Online Resources
Many elementary school math departments offer modules and practice sheets through your child’s school website. Unlike external programs, the materials on her school’s website often reinforce the same topics she’s learning so you can follow the lesson plan more closely. The good news is that anything listed on the site has already been vetted by the teacher for quality. The downside is these activities and worksheets offered through the school’s website may not capture your child’s fleeting interest the same way a colorful computer game does.
Independent Learning Centers
Independent learning centers like Kumon, Sylvan or Huntington Learning Center can help pinpoint your child’s math weaknesses and design a specific program around those areas. Keep in mind, however, that not all programs are identical — some emphasize drills and small group instruction while others are primarily one-on-one tutoring. While these programs can be tremendously helpful, they’re also pricey, and your child may not be excited to sit quietly indoors for a few hours each week doing math worksheets or activities with another adult