A new study from the University of Chicago published in Science suggests that the math app Bedtime Math can help bolster math confidence for both children and parents. Bedtime Math takes the routine of a nightly bedtime story and supplements it with mathematical ideas. The goal is to create math learning opportunities that are consistent and non-intimidating.
More than 500 first graders (and their parents) from around Chicago were used for the study. Their math improvement was compared to a control group that used a similar app that focused solely on literacy. At the end of the study, which spanned nine months, the children who used Bedtime Math averaged a three-month improvement in their math aptitude.
The greatest gains were seen by those families with the highest initial math anxiety. Connecting math problems to stories or real-life situations can help create context for potentially intimidating math content. Working through these problems on a nightly basis can help bring a deeper understanding of concepts that may have been otherwise presented in a more esoteric manner.
There are a lot of math apps available to download. Susan L. Beilock, one of the principal investigators in this study, suggests that Bedtime Math is effective because of its basis in research.
“There is certainly a billion dollar education app industry out there,” she says. “What we’ve realized in our initial work is that a lot of it isn’t based on research… We base our investigations on learning science.”
Choosing a math app that is intentionally designed (rather than a “shooting flashcards” app) will inevitably lead to the most math learning.