24 {Math} Game Craze

Last year, while browsing through my son's school yearbook, I came across a club called "24". Before I could ask Kaden what it was all about, he points to the group's picture and tells me that he is going to join when he's in 4th grade. He kept his promise.

Fast forward to September of this school year. 

I'm sitting at the computer as Kaden enters the room. He plops down a bright, yellow paper with information on how to sign your child up for the "24" club on the desk in front of me. Without hesitation, I read the fine print (yet another thing added to your schedule), signed the form, and Kaden was on his way.

Now every Wednesday he stays after school with a group of about thirty of his peers. The are broken up in small groups, forming a circle around this mysterious pile of cards (I should mentioned that I was suckered recently purchased a set of 24 Game cards from Amazon.com). Here's how they work:

Image and information courtesy of 24game.com

In 1988, successful inventor Robert Sun embarked on a journey to teach children the relationship between numbers through a game. The result of his efforts was the 24® game, a unique mathematics teaching tool that has proven to successfully engage students in grades 1 through 9 from diverse economic and social backgrounds. “I wanted to demonstrate that mathematics can be powerful, engaging and fascinating,” says Sun. “Knowing the answer is always 24 alleviates a classic brand of math anxiety—getting the right answer—and instead puts the emphasis on the process and patterns, what I like to call ‘the method behind the math.’ ”

Over the weekend, Kaden showed us his skills. Everyone got in on the action (Daddy, Aunt Kinsey, Me). I mean, how hard could it be to come up with an equation that equals 24? Surely we were all intelligent and possessed basic math skills.

Think it's easy? Try again.

We stuttered and stumbled, paused and pleaded, created and confused our way through the game. All while Kaden tapped the cards and spit out answers like a pro.

He says there are others in the group who are "really good", but I am proud of his dedication to improve his skills. He sets a goal for himself each week to gain more points. Kaden has even loaded an app on his iTouch to practice from time to time.

If it makes him feel any better, he can always play with his Dad or me for a guaranteed win. 

Math is a subject that a lot of children, heck adults for that matter, struggle with. Fortunately, Kaden has been placed in Gifted and Talent math at his school. And yes, I will boast. I also loved math in school. It's great to see Kaden in a club that celebrates the use of mathematical skills and requires critical thinking, while sharpening his problem-solving skills.

Now, if we could just work on his parents...