Lack of math education may shortchange a teenager’s developing brain

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some teens study lots of math. Others avoid it. Does it make a difference? Yes, and not only to career prospects. New research suggests it might also affect brain chemistry, and the way that students learn. How many years of math should you take in high school? Read More »

Preschool number activities: How do you introduce numbers to preschoolers?

© 2008 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Preschool number activities often involve counting, but merely reciting the number words isn’t enough. Children also need to develop “number sense,” an intuitive feeling for the actual amount associated with a given number. Where does number sense come from? Experiments suggest that even 6-month-old infants Read More »

Can preschool board games boost mathematics skills?

Studies suggest the answer is yes…if the game has these particular features. © 2008 – 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved You might not expect much from a preschool board game. Players roll dice, or spin a spinner, and move their game tokens around a board.  But when a young child plays a number-based Read More »

Preschool math lessons: A developmental guide for the science-minded parent

© 2008 – 2014 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Preschool math lessons don’t have to be tedious. They don’t even have to focus on counting. Here I review the highlights of research about early mathematics education, along with specific tips for creating mathematical experiences that are playful and stimulating. I also present some research-inspired Read More »

These preschool math games can help kids develop “number sense”

© 2008 – 2014 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Do kids improve their mathematical savvy by playing preschool math games? Experiments suggest they can. Here I provide instructions for a make-it-yourself preschool board game that has helped kids develop substantially better math skills after only 60-80 minutes of total play time.  I also discuss Read More »

Math before words: What babies know about numbers

© 2008 – 2012 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved What do babies know about numbers? Back in the 20th century, people assumed that infants lacked “number sense.” But today’s cognitive scientists have overturned the old ideas. Experimental research reveals a fascinating new world of baby cognition, one in which babies can recognize the approximate difference Read More »

Mancala games for kids: Count and capture games that promote strategic thinking

Mother and child playing mancala game known as ori or oware, Cape Verde

© 2009 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Mancala games to motivate young mathematicians Looking for activities to motivate your school-aged kids to count and think strategically? Try out mancala. Also known as “count and capture” games, mancala games have an ancient pedigree. There is archeological evidence that these games existed in the Middle East Read More »

Number Sense: Making math intuitive

© 2008 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved In his excellent book, The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics, Revised and Updated Edition, Stanislas Dehaene argues that kids go astray when teachers emphasize calculation over conceptual understanding. Left to their own devices, kids discover strategies that make math meaningful. Unfortunately, however, kids are often Read More »