Finding ways to work math activities into summer fun might require a calculated effort, but taking a vacation from numbers can have a detrimental effect on academic success.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, students can lose two months of grade-level math skills, on average, if they don’t practice during the summer. It’s known as the “summer slide,” and while it may sound like fun, it can pose a challenge for teachers who spend the better part of a month each fall playing catch-up, as they re-teach the previous year’s material. The “slide” can be seen across academic areas, but can have a significant effect on math and literacy skills. (See related post on reading.)
Summer learning doesn’t have to mean forgoing summer fun. Math skills can be maintained, or even improved, by sneaking them into summer activities.
For example, if you’re headed to the city pool, find out how many gallons of water it holds. Ask your child to calculate the volume and weight of the water, and figure out how long it would take to fill with a garden hose. (They’ll have to determine the flow rate of a garden hose, too – check out this garden flow rate calculator.
Planning a family vacation? Let your middle schooler figure out the mileage of the trip, how long it will take to get to your destination and how much money is needed for gas.
Or, create a summer budget for your child. Use summer to introduce and/or reinforce lessons about creating and sticking to a budget. Involve your children in decisions and activities so they can learn the value of saving money. Check out The Mint for financial tips and practice scenarios for teens.
For online help, check out these resources:
Illuminations, sponsored by the National Council for Math Teachers, provides practice problems as well as interactive exercises.
Math Playground offers math games, puzzles and more.
MathCounts has an arcade that features a variety of online games.
A+ Math offers activities for students in grades K-8 to reinforce math skills.