Researchers from the University of Chicago have determined that adding math to story time before bed can greatly improve children’s math performance. Specifically, they studying the effects of an app called Bedtime Math, which uses story problems to help engage kids in math. They found that, when parents read the stories and worked through the problems with this children, those kids improved their math performance in school as well.

The same researchers recently published a study which showed that parents with anxiety about math, something that the majority of American adults have, actually negatively impacted their children’s math performance when they helped with homework. The idea behind Bedtime Math seems to reduce, if not remove, that negative impact.

They gave parents with first grade children iPads loaded with the app and tested the children’s math proficiency at the beginning and end of the school year. They also set up a control group that just had an app with similar stories, but which did not include a math component.

What they found was that the children using the Bedtime Math app, as long as they worked on it once a week with their parents, improved their math performance, with some ending up as much as three months ahead of their peers without that app.

Story time has long been a part of many children’s lives, and it has a marked affect on childhood literacy and how much kids like to read. Math, on the other hand, doesn’t occupy the same kind of space. Many parents seem to think that teaching math is entirely the responsibility of schools, and that might have something to do with how many of the are anxious about doing math themselves. If this study is proven correct by future research, then getting parents to work math problems into story time will benefit their kids now, and likely their grandkids down the road as subsequent generations have a little more confidence with math.