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No fright on math night

My school days were plagued by an intense case of math phobia.

So when my son's school recently sent word that it was hosting a Family Math Night, I felt a familiar sinking feeling. And this was kindergarten math we were talking about.

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Thankfully, my son thinks numbers are fun. He loves their power and revels in the ability to count by twos or by tens. He enjoys grouping sets of objects and making graphs.

As we entered the school cafeteria on math night, my son pulled me excitedly to the nearest table. During the next hour and a half, he and I stacked pennies, arranged shapes into a triangle, worked puzzles, and guessed how many pieces of candy were in a jar. My son was ecstatic.

Afterward, I marveled at the simplicity of the math night idea. It introduces basic concepts such as geometry, spatial reasoning, logic, and graphing, mixes in family togetherness, and adds a dollop of fun.

It's like stealth math.

Later, I spoke with Richard Games, a father who has facilitated math nights for grades K-5 at the Bridge School in Lexington, Mass., where we live. Math nights in the six public elementary schools in town started about five years ago, he says, initiated by two moms who wanted to help foster math skills.

Mr. Games says the aim of math night is to have fun and socialize, and "frankly, to bring more dads into the school." He also likes to think that a seed is being planted.

In my son's case, I hope the seed is growing deep roots. Nothing would make me happier than for him to keep thinking math is fun.