Parents' Math Skills Rub Off On Their Kids -- Only, Not Mine, Thank God!

Oh, I pray this isn't so!

But a new study says that parents' math skills may rub off on their kids.

You're looking at someone who got 380 on her math SAT.  And this was back in the day when you got 200 points for spelling your name right!

But fortunately it looks like my son got his grandmother's math ability (she supposedly had an IQ of over 150).  And he got A's in honors geometry last year, so I guess I can't be blamed, at least for that!

Parents who excel at math produce children who excel at math. This is according to a recently released University of Pittsburgh study, which shows a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to child, according to The study specifically explored intergenerational transmission--the concept of parental influence on an offspring's behavior or psychology--in mathematic capabilities, according to

"Our findings suggest an intuitive sense for numbers has been passed down--knowingly or unknowingly--from parent to child. Meaning, essentially, the math skills of parents tend to 'rub off' on their children," says lead researcher Melissa E. Libertus, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and a research scientist in the University of Pennsylvania's Learning Research and Development Center.

Within the study, Pitt's researchers found that the performance levels for early school-aged children on standardized mathematic tests could be reliably predicted by their parent's performance on similar examinations.

Specifically, they observed major correlations in parent-child performance in such key areas as mathematical computations, number-fact recall, and word problem analysis. Surprisingly, the researchers also found that children's intuitive sense of numbers--i.e. the ability to know that 20 jelly beans are more than 10 jelly beans without first counting them--is predicted by their parents' intuitive sense of numbers.

Researchers determined that such close result parallels could not have been produced through similar institutional learning backgrounds because their previous research showed that this intuitive sense of numbers is present in infancy.

"We believe the relationship between a parent and a child's math capabilities could be some combination of hereditary and environmental transmission," says Libertus. "We look forward to future research endeavors that will explicitly examine the degree to which parents pass down key genetic traits and create an in-home learning environment that is conducive to producing high-achieving math students."


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