Summer is here and parents are trying as much as possible to find ways to keep their children occupied and out of trouble. Sports, summer camps, vacation bible schools, and movies are all ways that parents try to keep their kids busy. But, one of the things that parents should consider is how to keep their children from losing out on school skills during the summer months.
Many school systems (and parents) favor a move to a year long school schedule because the current nine-month plan is archaic and outdated. The system was set up in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries around an agricultural calendar so that children would be off from school to assist with farm work when they were most needed. As this is no longer the home situation for most students, the system needs to be changed, but unfortunately due to many political factors, it is unlikely to be modified anytime soon. Another major reason why this change in schedule is important is because of the concept of summer “brain drain.” A recent article entitled “Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions” cites studies that show that students scores were one letter grade lower in the fall than when the students left in the spring. In addition, these same students also had more pronounced problems in retaining information in math and spelling than in any other school subjects. So how can parents keep their child from losing information and skills, particularly in all-important math, over the summer without sacrificing fun? There are actually several different ways of doing this:
- One of the best ways to make math fun is to help your child see the real-world applications. When it comes time to make dinner, have your child help so that he or she can see how measurements work. Also, if you are following a recipe, ask your child to help you calculate how you would modify the recipe for a different number of people. This will help with reinforcing ratios and proportions, an important and sometimes difficult skill to master. If you work in the workshop, have your child help you out to learn measurements and also shapes and angles.
- Another way to make learning math fun is with board games. Rolling dice and moving the playing piece can help your younger child with simple counting skills. More advanced games like Monopoly help students with counting skills and percentages (You may want to try Monopoly Junior for the younger kids). Even a game like Clue may not seem like a “math” game but it still teaches and reinforces logic skills and deductive reasoning which are essential for mathematics.
- A final way to help reinforce math skills is with online math games. Whether we like it or not, kids love video games. Instead of a mindless shoot-em-up, it would be a good idea to let your child play a game that helps to refresh their math skills. One of the great things about these games is that, besides being very visually attractive and stimulating, is that they also tend to help with advanced math skills as well, including algebra and geometry.
These are three tools in a parent’s bag of tricks to help your child learn math easier and keep those skills from vanishing like the morning dew. It is imperative that you spend this time working with your child, helping them to reinforce their math skills so that they will not fall behind when school starts again in the fall.