Please, Just One More Math Puzzle Before Bed …

To stretch out storytime just a little longer, how about adding a dash of math to your child’s bedtime ritual? An app we highly recommend is Bedtime Math. It was created by Laura Overdeck, a mother of three with a background in astrophysics. Laura remembers learning to make quick calculations in her head when baking with her mom and working on carpentry projects with her dad. The app she designed is a brilliant way for children to practice these kinds of everyday calculations—the mental math we use to double a cookie recipe or count down the days until a birthday party.

Every day, Bedtime Math posts a playful new math challenge at four different levels: Wee Ones, Little Kids, Big Kids and Sky’s the Limit. Each post takes about five minutes to read aloud and solve together, and the subjects are truly engaging—like which kinds of presidential pets have lived in the White House, or how air traffic controllers keep planes flying into the airport from crashing into each other. There are tips for guiding your children if they get stuck and bonus questions if they need a tougher challenge. They may soon drift off to sleep adding and subtracting and multiplying sheep …

A University of Chicago study published in Science found that children whose families used Bedtime Math regularly during the school year boosted their math achievement by an average of three months. Best of all, those with math-anxious parents showed the greatest improvement, with a gain of six months. So if you are a little math-adverse yourself, Bedtime Math will help you talk easily about numbers and shapes and fractions with your child. You can download it for free on iTunes and Google Play; the app is research-driven and supported by a nonprofit foundation.

A fellow parent offers a wonderful tip: try picking one night a week to focus on Bedtime Math—maybe after family game night—and work through all the challenges posted for that week. She notes that she has seen her daughters’ skills jump since they started working with the app.

Here’s to a little real-world challenge in between your favorite make-believe stories!