It is no secret that the educational landscape of the United States is a highly varied one. Families have seemingly unlimited options to choose how they educate their children. These options include public and private schools, montessori facilities and homeschooling and more. Not to mention, every of one these institutions can be subdivided by curriculum. Some schools emphasize a science, engineering, technology and mathematics (S.T.E.M.) track, while others bolster the humanities. Some even specialize in certain disciplines à la music magnet schools or bilingual programs. Regardless of the innumerable pedagogical opportunities available, there are two academic skills that prove essential to leading a productive adult life.
Upon hearing the phrase “multiplication,” for many, the first time equation that comes to mind is “two times two equals four.” Piece of cake, right? But what about nine times seven? Or twelve times eleven? If you have to pause to think about these products or even break out your iPhone calculator, fret not. You are not alone. Many adults struggle to perform fundamental multiplication, the consequence for which is often inefficiency or even financial loss.
Possessing the ability to perform mental multiplication is crucial because it is constantly applicable to modern daily life. Times tables will appear in every facet of your child’s advanced academic life as “the building blocks for countless other mathematical concepts.” Your youngsters’ ability to budget and handle money will depend on their grasp of multiplication. That is to say nothing of how domestic life will fare without strong multiplying abilities (portion control and grocery shopping, anyone?). Ideally, a child should memorize all multiplication tables through twelve with near knee-jerk speed and accuracy. Parents can employ flash cards, timed minute quizzes, and recitation games in order to solidify these skills. No matter the class culture, ensuring that children are facile with their times tables will only serve them in the long run.
We have all heard that reading is fundamental. However, results from Gallup polls show that as many as 25% of Americans do not read a single book a year. In fact, many non-reading adults developed this habit in childhood. But what causes this trend? Some blame technology, speculating that in this era of 140 character tweets and immediate gratification, the average attention span has decreased compared to earlier generations. This shorter attention span leads to difficulty concentrating when reading, which in turn, limits reading comprehension. Shaky reading at an early age only compounds as time passes, making for a grueling academic future come high school and college.
Outside of the classroom, reading comprehensively encourages creativity, boosts empathy and could even boost IQ by six points! Research suggests that reading can teach a whole host of invaluable life skills that can significantly alter the course of your child’s future for the better. Who could say no to that? So, the next time your child whips out a calculator or passes on Dr. Seuss in favor of Doc McStuffins, consider encouraging them to rely on their brain power instead of their gadgets.