Published: 21 Mar 2017

Have you heard the myth that girls are not good at math? Well, there’s a reason why it’s called a “myth”. It’s because it’s just not true. There can be no blanket statement that girls aren’t good at math, because math skills are influenced by genetics, culture, experience, upbringing and attitudes. There is not much we can do about genetics, but the other four elements are adaptable.

**Culture**In many cultures around the world, such as India for example, girls are as skilled as boys in math and enter math related jobs at a higher rate than the U.S. Research is also revealing that in the U.S. in programs where the math curriculum is motivating and relevant, there is no gender gap on math test scores. The current cultural push for students to do well in STEM courses is also resulting in more girls enrolling in higher level math classes in the upper grades.

**Experience**Experience is an important factor for math success, both at school and at home. A math curriculum that emphasizes memorization of math facts and uses speed tests makes math feel shallow and boring. Girls tend to like subjects that are more connected to real life and have depth of meaning. Schools need to examine their math curriculum to make learning math more relevant and stimulating.

**Upbringing**Parents may not have much influence over the math curriculum or teaching strategies, but they can have an impact on their daughter’s math experiences at home and in the community. Integrating math into everyday activities shows children the relevance of math, and shows them that math is not just something you do in school. Activities such as how to divide slices of pizza, how to save money to buy a car, or even finding out how the electoral college works makes math relevant.

**Attitude**The final influence on girls and math is attitude. Attitudes of teachers and parents can greatly impact how girls feel about math. Teachers who say, “Math is just not your thing; you’re good at reading” are unknowingly killing the desire to learn and turning girls away from math. In the same way, parents who say, “I was never good at math either;” or “Ask your Dad for help, he’s better at math” are sending a not-so-subtle message that girls are not expected to do well at math.

So what can parents do? Even if the math your daughter brings home is above what you remember how to do, say, “Let’s figure it out together.” Include your daughter in discussions about money, whether it is about the budget, savings, retirement or college. She needs to understand the practical aspects of knowing how to use math to solve problems in life.

Parents can also make learning math fun. Games are a great way to learn and use math skills. The most obvious games of numbers include cards and dice, but almost all board games include math elements such as counting, adding scores, and spatial reasoning. Some games even have a particular focus on specific math skills.

Many SimplyFun games incorporate various math skills across the grades. For example, games for younger children, such as Digger’s Garden Match involve adding and subtracting and Cow Cents requires children to make change with money. For older children, games involve a broader range of math skills. Use SimplyFun’s Advanced Product Search to help you find the math game that meets your specific needs.

Playing such games with your children allows parents to see how their children are approaching various aspects of math and support them in a non-threatening, non-school-related, enjoyable way. Parents can model how to look at a situation, help their child figure out a best solution, and reinforce the child’s abilities with the math skills involved in the game. Who knew? Math can be fun!

**About the Author**

Dr. Toni Linder is a leader in the field of early childhood development and early childhood special education. She works with children of diverse backgrounds and ability levels, including children that are gifted and talented, who have disabilities or come from backgrounds of poverty, and those from multicultural backgrounds.

Published: 20 Mar 2017

**In a 2010 Change the Equation study, 30% of Americans polled said they would rather clean their bathrooms than do a math problem.**

Oh my gosh, seriously? There are a few things in life that are below cleaning my bathroom, but math certainly isn’t one of them. But then I’m one of the lucky ones who embraced the math skills we all come by naturally with a desire to emulate my father who was the family math expert.

But how is it that so many people hate math? I’m sorry to share that I don’t have the answer, but after doing a bit of research here are a few thoughts on why math might be getting a bad rap:

**No. 10** It is still ‘cool’ to be innumerate though it is not cool to be illiterate.

**No. 9** Math is considered one of the ‘r’s (reading, writing, arithmetic), by definition….BORING.

**No. 8** Pythagorean Theorem –Sounds too big to comprehend.

**No. 7** I have a calculator and it is ALWAYS right! (Guess no finger slip there.)

**No. 6** The person who sits next to me in class can solve the problem faster than me, so why try?

**No. 5** There is no wiggle room…. excuses or maybes in math. There is only one answer which doesn’t fit my creative style.

**No. 4** I tried to solve the problem once and got the wrong answer, so I must be bad at math.

**No. 3** I want to be an entrepreneur making money, not doing boring math problems.

**No. 2** Who needs to make change if you have a credit or debit card?

**No. 1** My [mom, dad, sister, brother, relative – fill in the blank] is bad at math, so I’m probably bad at math too! It must run in the family.

When you read through these items two main themes emerge.

*First, that math is often taught in its strictest form and not translated into real world applications that we use every day.*How scary is it to think that you might not be able to figure out how much an employer owes you in pay or to know how much your credit card is going to charge in interest. What kind of decisions will you make as a business owner if you don’t understand the financial impact of those decisions?*Second, we hear over and over which groups are scoring well in math and which lag behind (think boys versus girls.)*We hear our parents; friends and fellow students explain away their own lack of math skills with ‘I’m not good at math’. All of this chatter provides a great set of excuses for when we meet a math concept that is more challenging for us to grasp. Like learning to shoot a basket or kick a soccer ball into the net for a score, math takes practice and not all ‘math moves’ come without some work.

So considering all of this, why should math be a priority? Math and particularly advanced math is the ultimate way to train your brain to think through complex problems. Understanding math helps you organize your thoughts (working through the order of operations r in equations), experience trial and error (solving for unknowns), and to search for a single answer to a problem (if you know the size of two sides of a triangle, you know the third.) All of these have direct application in our daily lives, and more importantly help us build skills that will contribute to success. If illiterate is uncool, let’s all vote for the same fair treatment for math skills. Don’t perpetuate the coolness of being innumerate! Math deserves a better rap!

Published: 14 Mar 2017

Boring. Repetitive. Pointless. Frustrating. Too easy. Too hard.

These were a constant flow of phrases from the mouth of my 8-year-old daughter daily about math. As a homeschooling mom, I was the one enforcing this curriculum on her each day as we dove into our math lessons causing some math anxiety for both of us. It wasn’t that they were too complex or above her head. She never struggled getting the right answer… she just hated that she HAD to.

Barely into November of each school year, we’d both be at our wits end with the struggle. She hated drilling the facts, and I hated making her. Timed drills and flash cards were the only way I knew to give her a solid foundation, but it just wasn’t working. She fought me at every turn.

Enter SimplyFun. I attended a friend’s Facebook party, and WOW… these amazing games looked like they could be the answer to our struggle. First, I grabbed Math Room, a game that teaches addition and subtraction in a timed setting. We began playing regularly, and within days the speed at which she could drill those simple addition and subtraction facts increased a ton. She was drilling, with a timer, FOR FUN, with her little sister, and her attitude when she sat down to her math lesson began to shift.

I think I should also mention that my daughter loves horses. When I saw Front Runner was a math game AND featured horse races, I realized I found the answer to our problem. This was the perfect game for her. Not only did it feature her favorite animal, it helped her practice order of operations and factoring. We hadn’t arrived at order of operations in our math lessons yet, or discussed factoring, but after just a few runs of the game, she understood both concepts well.

Her math skills have improved, but the biggest change the games have brought about was a complete shift in attitude about the entire subject of math. It’s no longer boring, it’s FUN. There is a POINT to these math problems: to win. There are simple and difficult levels of play, and she likes that she can choose what she wants to try. She looks forward to her math lessons, when before she would dread them. She’s even looking forward to starting division so she can factor even better for Front Runner!

The girl who just a few months prior would only have disdain for math time now looks forward to it each day, and just might call it her favorite subject. All this thanks to SimplyFun games.

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SimplyFun Playologist Becky Phillips lives in suburban Atlanta with her wonderful Mr. Adventure husband and 4 (soon to be 5!) children: Annika (9), Nora Grace (6), Trace (4), Martyn (2), and TBD (Sept 2017). As a family, the Phillips’ spend a lot of time adventuring, riding horses, skiing, riding in airplanes with Daddy, playing outside, reading great books, and playing LOTS of amazing games. As a busy homeschooling mama, Becky loves being able to incorporate PLAY into their homeschool as a way to add smiles and build relationships WHILE learning.

Published: 10 Mar 2017

Did you know that you can pass your dislike of math down to your child? Studies show that a parent’s math anxiety can negatively impact their child’s future success in math. Researchers found that math-anxious parents who helped their children frequently with homework didn’t help much at all. Their children learned significantly less math during the school year and finished with more math anxiety.

Playing math games is a great way to overcome your math anxiety and help your children learn, too. Break the cycle of math anxiety with family game time.

Read the full article here.

Published: 02 Mar 2017

For many, math is boring or seemingly irrelevant. It’s just numbers, formulas and word problems on paper. For others, math is intimidating because it can be abstract, complicated and full of bad memories.

I’m certainly no mathematician as my C+ in high school calculus proves. And, I have felt all those feelings described above. Yet, I’m constantly amazed at how useful and beautiful math actually is.

I confess that I have not been a good friend to math. Time to make some amends. For this month of March Mathness, I want to say a big “thank you” to math for:

• Letting me argue with friends over who the best baseball player is of all time. My vote is Babe Ruth.

• Putting satellites in space so many of us can enjoy cell phones, GPS and texting photos with friends.

• Describing the shape of everything … from circles to snowflakes to the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

• Building the homemade desk my daughter studies at.

• E=MC 2

• Deciding what move to make in all of my favorite games.

• Paying for that great birthday dinner and leaving a nice tip.

• Creating patterns that make life more beautiful from the living room rug to the rows of trees in my favorite park to the wings of a Monarch butterfly.

• Helping me win at a friendly game of golf or catch that Frisbee thrown across the wind.

• Managing my company’s projections, finances and growth.

• Making me a creative problem-solver in all areas of life, not just for that weekly Sudoku puzzle.

• Taking my imagination to new worlds, characters and stories thanks to Pixar, Dreamworks, Lucas Films and so many other filmmakers.

Math is literally everywhere helping us make sense of the world. And…it enables us to create a better, safer, more beautiful world. Math can be boring, intimidating and wildly complex, but its everywhere in our lives. So, think of your own reason to be grateful for math and say a little “thank you” this March.

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