When we learn a new skill and then go several months without performing it, the skill tends to atrophy. To prevent what’s referred to as the “summer slide,” it’s important to help your child practice newly acquired math skills over the long summer months.
Show them the value of money
One of the best ways for students to practice math is by learning to control their own money. For older kids, you may give them more control over saving and spending. For younger children, you may need to mentor and monitor more closely. Either way, allow your child to earn money and then practice spending it in ways she chooses. Ask your child questions about the purchases she makes—if she buys a candy bar, how much money should she expect to have left? What could she purchase with her money? Is there a larger-ticket item she wants to save for? Help her meet her goal by setting up a weekly budget.
Play summer games
While there are plenty of games specifically designed to build math skills, you probably already have a few options sitting in your garage. For instance, a yard game like cornhole requires on-the-spot addition. Monopoly also requires players to count. Connect Four, Ticket to Ride, and Rush Hour are just a few others that help foster math skill building.
Rely on your resources
There’s a lot of time to learn over the summer, so why not practice math in a more conventional (but still fun) way, too? Make some paper flash cards or find some online and go through them with your child every once in a while. Make it part of your Wednesday breakfast routine or Tuesday/Thursday free time before dinner. There are lots of great resources both in bookstores and online that will make math reviews quick and easy so you can build math practice into your routine.
Get in the kitchen
By asking your student to help prepare meals, you’re also developing his math skills. Choose a recipe that has a lot of measurements, and halve or double it for an added math challenge. For younger kids, this may require a bit of assistance. It’s a great way to visualize different measurements, perform some calculations, and end up with a tasty treat—all in just an hour or so!
Take a trip
Many families choose to take trips over the summer, and this presents a great opportunity for children to practice math skills. Get a paper map or find an electronic one, and ask your kids to calculate potential distances. You might even involve your student in planning a route or comparing distances, choosing the best routes based on traffic or construction, or adding up the legs of a journey.
These creative ideas will have your student learning and practicing math before he even knows it!
Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.