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Kids’ brains reorganize when learning math skills

  • FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, third grade teacher Melissa Grieshober teaches a math lesson at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del. Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, third grade teacher Melissa Grieshober teaches a math lesson at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del. Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, third grade teacher Melissa Grieshober teaches a math lesson at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del. Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, third grade teacher Melissa Grieshober teaches a math lesson at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del. Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, third grade teacher Melissa Grieshober teaches a math lesson at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del. Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)
  • FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, third grade teacher Melissa Grieshober teaches a math lesson at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del. Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

Kids’ brains reorganize when learning math skills

Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math.

The take-home advice: Drilling your kids on simple addition and multiplication may pay off.

“Experience really does matter,” said Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research.

Healthy children start making that switch between counting to what’s called fact retrieval when they’re 8 years old to 9 years old, when they’re still working on fundamental addition and subtraction. How well kids make that shift to memory-based problem-solving is known to predict their ultimate math achievement.

Those who fall behind “are impairing or slowing down their math learning later on,” Mann Koepke said.

Associated Press

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