Linus and his older brother Jonah love playing store. Mom, Melissa, also a social scientist, is happy the boys are having fun and at the same time learning basic math.
"I don't want them to see math as a drill and a burden and boring," Melissa Libertus said.
Developmental psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh wanted to see what happened when moms talked about numbers with their kids.
The researchers studied 44 five and six-year-olds and their moms. The kid and mom pairs played for ten minutes, while researchers videotaped the interaction.
"What we found when we went back and looked at parents using more number words was those kids tended to have higher math scores, too," said Leanne Elliott, developmental psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh.
Researchers also said parents' use of numbers higher than 10 was significantly related to young children's math abilities, suggesting kids should be exposed to concepts that are more advanced.
"Talking about math, incorporating it into day to day interactions can be really helpful," said Elliott.
Elliott says parents can count the number of cars that pass by while you wait for the bus. Count the items in your grocery cart at the store. While driving, look for numbers on signs like the posted speed limit.
"Driving from one place to another, we talk about what time it is, when we have to get there, how long it might take us, how far it is," Libertus said.
Math talk that might help kids start school with skills that help them stack up.
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