Avoid the Summer Slide: 5 Simple Tips to Help Your Kids Retain Math Skills During the Summer
by Aline Nguyen, owner of Mathnasium
Summer is a time for relaxation and fun, of course. But there's no reason why keeping kids’ math skills sharp can't be both relaxing and fun!
It’s a fact that over summer break, students lose approximately two months of the math computational skills they learned during the previous academic year. Before returning to school in the fall, children should review and be comfortable with math concepts from the grade they just completed. This is why practicing math skills at home is important.
Build Math Momentum At Home (Kindergarten to 5th grade)
Oral and Visual Exercises
Count from any number, to any number, by any number. Count forward and backward. This will strengthen children’s addition skills and make learning the times table a breeze!
Introduce the “half” concepts to Kindergarteners and 1st graders.
For older children, ask questions like:
- Half of what number is 4?
- How much is 2 ½ plus 2 ½?
- How much is a half plus a quarter?
Children should be able to see a whole as being a collection of parts.
Ask children to solve a broad range of life problems.
Ask questions like:
- I’m 39 years old and you are 5. How old will I be when you are 10?
- How can you share 6 candy bars evenly with 3 children?
- If 3 pieces of candy cost 50 cents, how much do 6 pieces cost?
First, children should know the names and values of coins, followed by learning the basic equivalents (i.e., 20 nickels = 10 dimes = 4 quarters = 2 half-dollars = 1 dollar). Counting coins in piggy banks and making change at stores are some ways to develop these skills. Money is the best model of our base 10 number system.
Pictures are useful in presenting and reinforcing many concepts. Even a simple picture of blank circles can be used to teach children about fractions.
For 15 minutes a day, log in to a website such as IXL.com to work on math facts. (There is a nominal membership fee.) Its slogan is: “Practice that feels like play.” For children who cannot part with their tablets, this is the answer!
Family Board Games
Play board games with family members and friends. Try the following games that are known to develop mathematical thinking:
- Connect 4
- 20 Express
- Ticket to Ride
- Rush Hour
Take It Outdoors
Play outdoors. Leave the tablets behind and head outside for some fresh air! Outdoor play can be combined with math learning for great fun and exercise.
- Jump Rope – Remember these counting rhymes: One two buckle my shoe, three four close the door, five six pick up sticks, seven eight shut the gate, nine ten start again!
- The Number Line in Chalk – Use chalk to make a big number line, both positive and negative, on the sidewalk or driveway. Do addition and subtraction by walking the line.
Spend time with family! It’s a great way to teach math concepts and make lasting memories.
- Get children involved in cooking or baking activities by letting them measure out ingredients. What better way to teach ratios, proportions, measurement conversion and time!
- Go shopping together. Give children some money and let them manage it.
- Involve children in home decorating. For example, to determine how much carpet you’ll need for your living room, use this simple formula: Area = Length x Width to determine the area of a rectangle or square. In a typical floor plan, all floor space is made up of squares or rectangles, so this formula will work.
Remember, even if your child does not seem to be having any trouble in math, it's important that he or she practice math 10 to 15 minutes a day to be prepared for the upcoming school year!
If your child needs extra assistance:
If your child needs extra assistance or is experiencing math resistance that you cannot seem to reach, consider enrolling him or her in a program with an expert. Mathnasium is a nationwide chain of neighborhood math-only learning centers that teaches students math in a way that makes sense to them; I am the center director of a branch in Penfield, NY, but you can find Mathnasiums throughout the U.S. When math makes sense, children leap way ahead – whether they started out far behind or are already ahead in math.
Aline Nguyen is the owner of Mathnasium - Penfield in Penfield, NY.