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WTIU Launches “It All Adds Up,” Offering Math Learning Tools

Offering Hoosier families math learning tools, including a new free app for parents of early learners.

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Photo: PBS Kids

PBS KIDS Lab is built on the belief that every new technology is an opportunity for learning.

WTIU has announced “It All Adds Up,” a local effort to help Indiana families build kids’ math skills. Through this effort, WTIU aims to boost math learning at home – and everywhere – by providing PBS KIDS resources for parents. “It All Adds Up” is an awareness effort designed to expand the impact of Ready To Learn, a cooperative initiative between CPB and PBS, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, to support the development of early math and literacy skills in children ages 2-8 from low-income families.

Although research shows that math skills at kindergarten entry can be an even stronger predictor of school achievement than reading skills1, many children do not realize their full potential in mathematics. While a variety of factors contribute to lagging math skills, a recent survey released by PBS KIDS suggests parents place less emphasis on math, since they view other skills as “the greatest predictor of achievement later in life,” ranking reading and literacy (26%) and the ability to pay attention and work hard (47%) as most indicative versus math (14%). The national survey of parents with children ages 2-12 also indicated that parents are less likely to support their kids’ math skills from the earliest ages, and that many parents have anxiety about supporting math learning at home.

Through “It All Adds Up,” WTIU is providing educational resources to help build Indiana kids’ math skills. This emphasis is especially important given that the U.S.’s ranking of 25 among 34 countries in children’s math achievement2 has prompted national concern. President Obama emphasized the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills in his recent State of Union address, citing their importance in preparing this generation for a high-tech economy.

Yet PBS KIDS’ survey found that parents may be missing an opportunity to start early in building their kids’ math skills. Parents with older children are more likely to practice math skills daily with their kids than parents of younger children. Sixty percent of parents of 5-8-year-olds practice math daily with their kids, whereas only half of parents of 2-4-year-olds do. Parents are also more likely to practice reading skills with their kids than they are to practice math. This may be in part due to parents’ lower comfort levels with teaching math. Nearly 30 percent of parents reported anxiety about teaching their children math, and that anxiety is even greater for moms (33%) and parents with an education level of high school or less (32%).

“Research shows that it’s vital that we start building children’s math skills from a young age to help them succeed in school and in life,” said Phil Meyer, WTIU Station Manager. “Through ‘It All Adds Up,” WTIU is proud to offer resources to help families support early math learning for the kids in our community.”

“It All Adds Up” builds on the collection of more than 100 games and apps that PBS KIDS and CPB have launched over the past two years through Ready To Learn to help build math and literacy skills. The effort also introduces multiplatform tools, including the new PBS Parents Play & Learn App and a new team of experts called Math Mentors, to help parents increase their own confidence with math and nurture their children’s love for math from an early age. All of these resources are accessible on PBS KIDS Lab, a site that aggregates games, apps and offline activities to help support math and reading learning for kids 2-8. The site also offers several gaming suites, each of which links a set of games across platforms – accessible through computers, mobile devices and interactive whiteboards – so that kids can engage with the same characters as they move from device to device. The content is also linked by curricular frameworks, leveraging games on a variety of platforms to support key math and reading skills.

Indiana Public Media is a producer and distributor of public media from WFIU Public Radio and WTIU Public Television at Indiana University including your favorite programming from NPR and PBS.

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