FAQs – PBS SoCal Family Math

What is Family Math and how can I learn more?
Two boys play with an interactive floor game related to math concepts at a Family Math event celebrating the new season of “Odd Squad” at Stephen C. Foster Elementary School in Compton, Ca.

What is the goal of PBS SoCal’s Family Math initiative?

With its Family Math initiative, PBS SoCal is seeking to improve meaningful outcomes for children by leveraging the power of early math skills.

We’re reaching out to families — particularly parents and caregivers — and offering insights, tools and support so that they can confidently, joyfully and authentically explore math with children aged 2 to 5.

Specifically, our Family Math program aims to do the following:

(1) cultivate and empower parent and family leaders to more fully integrate caregivers into their children’s learning community

(2) increase math proficiency and kindergarten readiness for low-income children by providing access to high-quality, math-centric resources

(3) increase child and family math positivity by offering fun learning opportunities and engagement experiences

We plan to achieve those important goals by offering diverse programs and tools.

We know that when it comes to young children and families, there is no “one size fits all.” By offering lots of opportunities and entry points, accessible both in English and in Spanish, we hope that everyone can find the support they need to share math experiences with young children, wherever, whenever and however the opportunity presents itself.

My child is between the ages of 2-5. Is that too early to teach math to children?

When it comes to math, there is practically no such thing as “too early.”

Babies begin sorting and classifying within their first hours of life, distinguishing “familiar” from “unfamiliar” and demanding “more” and “less.” At six months old, babies can estimate probabilities. From closely observing patterns in the world around them, these little ones learn to anticipate likely events.

By the time they celebrate their first birthday, most children use fundamental math concepts on a regular basis. They engage with measurement and comparisons when they differentiate the big balloon from the little balloon. They sort and classify when they accept only intact crackers and reject the broken ones. They exercise spatial reasoning when they dump and fill containers, play with puzzles, and build with blocks. They demonstrate familiarity with numeracy when they follow commands to get one hat or two shoes.

So, your two-year-old is definitely ready to enjoy fun, meaningful math experiences with you. And research has found that if you give your children a strong math start by the age of five, then you’re setting them up for all kinds of success, like:

  • math and reading achievement in third grade
  • math and reading achievement in fifth grade
  • graduation from high school
  • enrollment in college

Each of these outcomes is associated with a set of positive implications. For example, graduation from high school facilitates richer career opportunities, more stable employment, stronger earning power and better access to safe neighborhoods and quality medical care.

Early math skills can be a catalyst for putting a powerful chain of events into motion.

Why does math need to be taught outside of the classroom? Isn’t that something best taught in school?

A trip to the grocery store or a walk through the neighborhood shows us that math is everywhere! Numbers, shapes, sizes and patterns are all around us.

Math is in sports. Math is in music. Your parenting might already feature some math. For example, do you use a clock or a timer to set limits? Do you offer a bigger reward versus a smaller reward as a bargaining tactic? Do you count to three in order to give children a warning, help them to calm down, or track how many bites they must take before leaving the table? Math cannot and should not be limited to school. Math is integrated into the fabric of our lives.

What about learning? We know that learning is more fun and effective when you’re accompanied by people you care about, and when you’re pursuing goals that feel meaningful. So, the more we invite our kids to explore math with us and see how math helps us to do important things, the more likely our kids are to appreciate math and enjoy its pursuit.

Family involvement matters beyond math, too. Engagement in a child’s learning improves school readiness, academic achievement and graduation rates.

So let’s get our math on!

I’m a caregiver. How can I join Family Math workshops to help my child develop positive attitudes toward math?

Although we are only offering in-person workshops in Compton for now, there are several ways that you can access our resources and unlock your child’s love of math learning.

  • Join our mailing list to learn about the latest digital tools we are offering to help your little ones learn math.
  • Look out for other PBS SoCal education initiatives in many other Southern California communities throughout the year, including creative learning workshops, mobile labs, KIDS Writers Contest, and our Summer Learning campaign, which encourages children to continue learning all summer long.

Why does PBS SoCal strive to partner and work closely with the community?

As a public media company, we believe that partnering with communities is our responsibility, and we take this responsibility very seriously. We strive for our content and services to reflect local needs and priorities so that our stakeholders have the tools they need to live their best lives. These tools run the gamut, from award-winning entertainment to powerful enrichment to pathways for civic engagement.

Family Math is one of many PBS SoCal education initiatives that provide services and resources to Southern California communities.

Click here to learn more about our work!

I am a government agency, nonprofit organization, educator, philanthropist or foundation outside of the school system. Is there something I can do to help families participating in Family Math?

Please send us a quick note here to express your interest in Family Math and we will reach out to discuss collaboration possibilities.