Utah STEM program aims to help parents prepare children for success with conversation cards

Feb 28, 2024, 5:32 PM | Updated: Feb 29, 2024, 6:26 am

SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to preparing your child for kindergarten, there is one score that experts now say can determine all kinds of life success, and it’s not reading. It’s math.

There are easy ways you can increase that score with simple tweaks to things you’re already doing at home.

Take Delson Billadeau, for example. At almost 4 years old, he is highly motivated by snacks, and his father, Brahms Billadeau, uses snack time to incorporate math with conversation cards created by Clarence Ames at Utah’s STEM Action Center.

“People don’t often know that math, early math, is actually the most significant predictor of pretty much everything else,” Ames said.

Delson Billadeau with his father Brahms Billadeau eating snacks.

Delson Billadeau with his father Brahms Billadeau using math to make snack time more fun. (KSL TV)

Research 30 years in the making shows that early math scores predict future reading scores, academic success, dropout rates, college acceptance, and even incarceration rates. Yet most parents don’t know how important they are, or how to improve them. That’s where Ames comes in.

“Turns out, it’s the way parents engage with their kids at home,” he said. “It’s the math language we use while we play with our kids.”

Which, Ames said, most parents are afraid of.

“When I say you need to be doing math with your 2-year-old, everyone gets this look of panic,” Ames said.

But, he said, once he explains how to do it, every parent gets on board.

“If we put language around that, we empower them to build those skill sets,” he said.

Research shows awareness is all parents need to take action, and Ames has made it even easier with the cards found on the STEM website.

“I’ve always thought math is important. I’ve always wanted to emphasize math. I didn’t know how or when to start,” Brahms Billadeau said.

The educational cards from the STEM website.

The educational cards from the STEM website. (KSL TV)

He said the conversation cards spell it out, and it’s easy and straightforward.

“Without them, you can just make up whatever you want, but you don’t know if you’re on the mark or off the mark,” Brahms Billadeau said.

“If we can give that information to parents, we have the capacity to literally change society,” Ames added.

Research also shows board games are to math what books are to reading. So, find games to play with your young children.

If you would like more information or would like to download the cards, click here.

For more activity ideas and resources on how to help your child serve, visit 5B45kids.com.

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Utah STEM program aims to help parents prepare children for success with conversation cards