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How to Retain Math Skills During Summer Vacation

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

Summer holiday is fantastic fun for children, however conclusion of school has mothers and fathers almost everywhere worrying about how much of the prior year's school knowledge will be preserved by summer's conclusion. The past school term's hard-earned mathematics knowledge is one of the first casualties during these hot and hazy months away from the classroom.

What can parents do to help their children keep, or even sharpen, summer math skills while still keeping them happy during school vacation? Here are several tested techniques for making sure your child doesn't have to learn math all over again when school begins in the fall.


Learning Fractions while Cooking

Cooking is a great way to have fun and bond with your child while teaching him math and helping him retain useful skills. Younger children can help measure ingredients. Not only does this help with motor skills, but it helps children learn to visualize fractions when they measure halves, thirds and quarters of a cup or tablespoon. Older children can read the recipe and learn to follow directions. You can even have your older child help you double a recipe or cut it back. Practice like this makes learning multiplication and division fun, and there'll be a delicious treat waiting for you when you're done.


Stop Worrying about Grade Promotion

One summer when my daughter was seven, I sensed that something was bothering her. She confessed that she was worried about moving into third grade. Many children need extra practice and reassurance when they move from primary grades K-2 to the middle grades, or from elementary school to middle school. I took my daughter to a teacher's supply shop and we bought some arithmetic books and math learning aids appropriate for third grade. She was incredibly relieved to see that the material wasn't as difficult as she had imagined and that she was psyching out herself unnecessarily. I helped her with some of the review material and she was able to enjoy the rest of her summer.

The wonderful math software products available today help make grade advancement painless. Lessons start off easy and build in difficulty. A number of packages even cover lessons for multiple grades so it's easy to gain confidence by conquering more advanced lessons.


Practice Using Money at the Mall

Agreeing on a spending limit in advance of setting off to the mall is a good way to keep you and your child content. Grab a handful of change prior to leaving home. When you arrive, ask your child to pick the coins that comprise her spending total. Not only will it keep her quiet while she decides which items she can afford to buy, it will help her with her addition and subtraction while helping her learn money skills. One caveat, though-if you say "anything," you need to mean it-no fair second-guessing her purchases. Remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure. If her purchases don't seem up to snuff even the very next day, well, avoiding buyer's remorse is a good lesson to learn early, too


Math Worksheets for Cheap (or Free)

You don't have to spend a lot of money to provide quality learning material for your child. Believe it or not, most dollar stores have entire sections devoted to puzzle and picture books that help make learning fun. There are many websites with printable puzzles and worksheets that you can download for free. To save you a visit to the store, we have reviewed several websites that offer free, high-quality downloadable worksheets that you can print yourself.


Road Sign Shapes and Geometry

Primary math concepts consist of more than purely studying arithmetic. The geometric shapes spotted in day to day life help children make geometry real. Choosing a trip to the ocean or vacation resort? Play a game with your youngster, having him indicate octagons (stop signs), triangles (yield signs) and rectangles (speed limit signs). Older children can name three-dimensional shapes such as pyramids and spheres that they spot along the way.


Summer's a Great Time for Educational Math Software and Games

Another great source for helping your child to retain her math skills is educational software. Let's face it; many kids today would rather play computer games than do a lot of things to do. Why not use those games to sneak in a little learning? Computer math games allow your child to have fun and learn everything from addition to calculus at her own pace. One game that has been around for a long time is Math Blaster, but there are many math software titles from which to choose. On the Educational Math Software Shop website, we've organized the titles by grade level and skills taught. Browse through the titles and read the detailed descriptions to determine which software most suits your child's needs.

As you have seen, summer getaways offer numerous options for learning math under the guise of entertainment and fun. It won't require a tremendous amount of imagination to invent activities so, your child won't even have to know she's learning!