A Fun Way to Slide Children Into Math

Number-based board games are found to help children develop number skills.

Chutes and Ladders teaches counting and number recognition.
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So it turns out that playing board games can turn your child into a math whiz. According to research published in the March-April issue of the journal Child Development, number-based board games similar to Chutes and Ladders can help children, especially those from low-income families, develop number skills necessary to do well in math classes.

Disadvantaged children tend to lag behind affluent students in math at the onset of school, and this study found that most low-income children don't have board games at home.

The children in the study, 124 preschoolers in the federal Head Start program, used a board game with a spinner and took turns moving pieces along a row of numbered squares. They played four times, for 15 to 20 minutes each session, over a two-week period. At the end of the study, the preschoolers who participated could better identify and count numbers and had a sense of which numbers hold a greater value.

"Parents and preschool teachers should know that playing number board games increases young children's numerical understanding and lays a solid foundation for future learning of mathematics as well," says Carnegie Mellon Prof. Robert Siegler, coauthor of the study.