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Asked to pick their favorite subject in school, 25.4% of children age 6-11 choose math, according to data from Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI).

Art is a close second, with 22.7% of children naming it as their favorite subject; reading is a distant third, with only 12.4% selecting it; and writing/English is the top subject among only 4.2% of children, MRI found.

Gender plays a role in what subject children identify as their favorite, according to the study:

  • Boys are more likely to pick math as their most-preferred subject: 28.9% of boys versus 21.6% of girls.
  • Whereas 26.7% of girls say their favorite subject is art (making this the top choice among girls), while only 18.9% of boys like art the best.

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Age also seems a factor in children’s attitudes toward school subjects, the study found:

  • For instance, the percentage of children who say science is their favorite subject increases with age: from 7.9% of children 6-7 years old saying it is their favorite subject, to 13.5% of children 10-11 years old saying so.
  • However, interest in music declines as children get older, with 12.2% of children 6-7 years old saying it is their favorite subject, and only 6.2% of children 10-11 years old identifying it as their favorite.

“Given the well publicized – and often controversial – topic of women’s assumed math aversion, it’s interesting to see how well girls respond to math at the very beginning of their education,” said Anne Marie Kelly, VP of Marketing & Strategic Planning at MRI.

“Conversely, it’s worrying that these data show a decreased interest in reading as children age. Be that as it may, the data do demonstrate that age and gender have a lot to do with how children respond to subjects.”

About the study: Approximately 5,300 children responded to the study, questionnaires for which were sent to households with children ages 6-11 that were interviewed for MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer.

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