Math and reading are critical skills for kids to learn, but sometimes the road to learning them can be bumpy and filled with frustration.
A program called the Pittsburgh Plan aims to change that by teaching children as young as five years old to do fractions. The program was created by a Pittsburgh native, Richard McCoy, who grew frustrated with what he was seeing in his daughters' school.
"We were in a rural school district in another state where, for example, in a class they would ask a math question, and if a girl raised their hand they would say, 'Let's let the boys answer this. Math's for boys.' And I was worried about the effect that would have on my kids' self-image," said McCoy.
So McCoy set about teaching his own children the language of math and reading, and in doing so, developed the Pittsburgh Plan.
"As my kids went through school, some of their friends' parents and their teachers would kind of ask them, and us, what's going on, and when we told them, they asked if we would make the materials available to their kids," said McCoy.
The McCoys not only shared the materials with friends and schoolmates but have expanded to share them with the world. Parents across the globe have access to all the materials for free via McCoy's website. And parents whose children used them said they saw a real difference.
"They were all able to read in preschool. The letter recognition at the younger ages was just unbelievable. And the math that they were doing was really incredible," said Colleen Blackford, a mother of three girls who have all completed the Pittsburgh Plan.
Blackford's daughters, ages 9 to 12, all finished the Pittsburgh Plan by age 5. But the effects of the program are long-lasting.
"What they're doing, and able to do, at the end of the plan as far as math - people almost can't believe it," said Blackford.
Blackford's daughters, Morgan, Mackenzie, and Marissa Blackford, all said their favorite subjects are math and reading.
The Pittsburgh Plan works as simply as a parents sitting with their child to do worksheets together for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times a week. And for parents who are concerned about their own math skills, McCoy says to relax.
"Trust yourself. And more importantly, trust your child. These children at this age are brilliant. So, we give an awful lot of help. I really have not encountered parents who cannot do this," said McCoy.
However, McCoy is quick to warn that the Pittsburgh Plan will not work for every child.
It is a completely free program. The link to read about how it works and to download materials is http://pittsburghplan.com/.
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