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Bedtime Math’s Crazy 8s Club Reduces Kids’ Math Anxiety

Bedtime Math’s Crazy 8s club reduces children’s feelings of math-related anxiety, according to a study led by Johns Hopkins University psychologists.

Crazy 8s is America’s largest recreational after-school math club for young children. Kids in kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade explore math through play, engaging in high-energy, hands-on activities that use unconventional items like glow sticks, toilet paper and beach balls. One hundred forty thousand children have participated in ten thousand Crazy 8s clubs across the country.

The results of the study found that children in both age groups experienced a significant reduction in math anxiety after eight weeks of participation in the club. The effect was more pronounced among children in the kindergarten through second grade club.

“Studies have shown the link between math anxiety and math performance starts to emerge towards the end of the elementary school years,” states Lisa Feigenson, co-director of the Johns Hopkins University Laboratory for Child Development. “It’s not only critical to identify experiences that can prevent or reduce math anxiety during these early years, but before children’s negative feelings about math affect their math performance. We found Crazy 8s offers one accessible way to change the way kids feel about math.”

Crazy 8s creates a social atmosphere where kids can engage in math play after school without test and grade pressure, and in doing so, see how math is a part of their daily lives.

“As parents pressure our schools to perform better, what matters just as much is kids’ exposure to learning during playtime. And the fact is, math hasn’t been part of the equation,” says Laura Overdeck, founder of the nonprofit Bedtime Math. “Crazy 8s creates a social atmosphere where kids can engage in math play after school without test and grade pressure, and in doing so, see how math is a part of their daily lives.”

Andrea Quintero, postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, adds, “Many children and adults experience math anxiety, which is linked to poorer math performance. And later in life, math performance in turn correlates with career success, income, and psychological well-being. Crazy 8s offers one way of decreasing math anxiety during childhood, which is an important strategy for keeping kids engaged in mathematics, and improving math achievement.”

Bedtime Math donates free Crazy 8s kits, containing step-by-step directions and most of the materials needed to run the eight-week club. Designed for 12-16 kids, the club offers up to 32 weeks of activities that appeal to children with a wide range of abilities and interests – not just those who love math.

The Johns Hopkins University study joins a growing body of research that underscores the powerful impact of afterschool programs on children. While the study focused on Crazy 8s clubs, more research and evaluation studies are needed on the impact of recreational science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming for children. Bedtime Math is committed to continuing to evaluate the impact of Crazy 8s.

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