As first appeared in The Washington Post as Kids’ math skills have taken a hit during the pandemic. Here’s how parents can help., on Feb. 16, 2021. Reprinted with permission.
Even as more children across the United States head back to in-person school — some for the first time in nearly a year — hybrid and virtual models mean that in many cases, kids are doing at least some of their learning at home. The extended break from full-time in-person learning has left many parents worried about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their children’s education, and what they can do to help bridge learning gaps. As developmental psychologists who study early math learning and how families can support it, we have also been thinking about these challenges.
Although bedtime stories — an important way to support reading development — are a ritual in many homes, math learning is typically not part of home routines. Parents tend to see math as the responsibility of schools, much more so than literacy. Also, many parents back away from math because of their own negative feelings about the subject. As a result, math engagement in the home is relatively infrequent, and it varies markedly across families.
It is not surprising then that children’s math learning is taking a particularly big hit because of the pandemic. In fact, recent studies indicate that the “Covid Slide” is more severe in math than in reading.
Fortunately, there are many ways families can include math in their daily routines to help counter some of that pandemic-related math learning loss, much like they include story time to support their children’s language and literacy skills. Here are some ways to incorporate math in your child’s life at home.
Michelle Hurst is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. Susan Levine, PhD, is the Rebecca Anne Boylan Professor of Education and Society in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. The authors are members of the DREME Family Math project.