Numeracy Is Equally Important as Literacy: A Mother's New Year's Goal to Inspire Math for Young Children

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Only 40% of Americans aged 16 and older have good reading and math skills (NCES). Basic mental math concepts such as multiplication and division are vital for functioning adults in society. The challenge lies in convincing parents to start teaching the skills early. "My New Year's goal for is to inspire more families to make math part of their daily activities," says Susan Jarema, the founder of Googol Learning and the free content math website http://www.googolpower.com.

Only 40% of Americans aged 16 and older have good reading and math skills (NCES). So why is there such a focus on literacy when numeracy is just as important? Basic mental math concepts such as multiplication and division are vital for functioning adults in society. Further skills in mathematics and problem solving are becoming increasingly critical for our future generation of adults.

The challenge lies in convincing parents to start teaching the skills early. "One of the first hurdles that can trip up children learning math is getting the basic facts down pat. Unfortunately, this hurdle - can turn potential math lovers into confirmed math haters. No child should grow up afraid of numbers. Parents and teachers can help by making math as enjoyable and exciting as it really is," explains Susan Jarema, founder of Googol Learning.

Susan created the award-winning musical Googol Power Math Series as a New Years Resolution motivated by her two young children to make learning math facts fun. Since then, she has built a free content website that shares ways to make math exciting. Inspiring the love of math in children can be difficult, so Susan offers some helpful tips to use in the home:

Use math during your day, and include it in daily conversation by "talking math." Examples of math are easy to find once you start looking - in shopping, cooking, gardening, travel, sports, games and even art.

Combine math with play, games and activities. Build a cube out of blocks, craft paper polygons and create arrays of pebbles. Play games that help reinforce arithmetic skills and logical thinking like 31, snap, cribbage, chess and hearts.

Look for the wild, crazy and outrageous. What's a googol? Can you say Rhombicosidodecahedron? How many cubits to the mailbox? Can we eat pi? How many seconds old is grandma? How long would it take to drive to the moon?

Take advantage of your local library and the internet. Most local libraries carry math reference books and children's stories that combine reading with math. The internet has endless math websites for all ages with lessons, worksheets, videos, games and music.

"It is apparent that both math and reading are equally important skills. I'd love to see an annual Numeracy Day to encourage using math in all homes," suggests Jarema, whose goal for 2008 is to inspire even more families to make math part of their day.

Visit Googol Learning's website to check out their Numeracy Day Poll and for many more free resources to help further increase your child's skills at http://www.googolpower.com.

Let's make this New Year a Math Year.

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SUSAN JAREMA
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