Although early math skills are essential to academic success, they get far less attention than early language skills at scholl as well as at home. During the last decades, educators have radically focused on boosting children's literacy skills, in the hope that all students will be proficient in reading by third grade. The problem is that early math has not received such attention. For example, research has shown that high-poverty kindegartens don't teach enough math, while the limited number of lessons about it are generally too basic.

According to Greg Duncan, Professor in the Department of Education at the University of California, understanding numbers and being able to work with them "is a fundamental skill for success in almost any occupation you might choose." Which does not help, the widespread lack of math interest at home is contributing just as much to the achievement gap. An issue confirmed by Deborah Stipek, Professor of Education in the Stanford Graduate School of Education: “Parents focus on reading to their child much more than they do on math skills. We’ve not been very successful so far in convincing parents - as we have with reading - to ‘count with your child’."

Small-group math work at Prairie Oak Elementary in Berwyn North School District 98 (Photo Sarah Gonser for The Hechinger Report)

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