Keep Math Skills Sharp Over the Summer
As the school year winds down, parents are faced with the question of what to do to keep math thinking alive during the summer. A creative bridge between your accomplishments of this year to the beginning of the next provides opportunity for a successful transition in those early back-to-school weeks.
4 Tips for Summer Math
1) Be Honest with Yourself
Create a strategy that you will be able to follow through with. Remember that you are on a school break as well.
Keep formal academic practice brief. For example, if your student spent the end of the school year learning multi-digit multiplication, put one problem up on a wipe off board daily to keep the process fresh.
2) Evaluate What You Worked on Last Year
What might still be a little fuzzy? You many find that consistently spending five minutes on practice a few times a week will serve your student well and keep them from needing to totally relearn the same concepts in the fall.
A fast track of math fact mastery is a great summer project. I have discussions daily with parents whose students from 7-16 are struggling to memorize basic math facts. One of my past blog posts, How to Teach a Child Math Facts, focuses on effective strategies that work well with brief consistent sessions.
3) Add Puzzles to the Mix
If I could re-school my children, I would include more puzzle solving in their lives. These could be anything from formal puzzles to life situations that invoke moments of pausing and gathering what we know to solve what we do not know. As they move into higher mathematical thinking, confidence in this kind of reasoning will be of great benefit. Math and puzzles go hand in hand. As you enjoy your vacation, be on the lookout for opportunities to solve situations that naturally arise with a simple problem-solving conversation that starts, “Ok, what DO we know?”
4) Look at Art
As an artist, I have found math concepts connected to art are what have not only improve my art but also given me a love of math. Perspective, ratio, angle, line, balance, graphing are just a few of the obvious. An example would be to visit a farm or gardens, which consist of rows. This could be a single discovery day or make it a multi-day/summer project. While there, pause and observe what you see and know. Gather clues. What size are the plants right in front of you? How about 20 feet away? They look smaller, but are they? Is there a point where all the rows seem to come together and become one or vanish? See if you can find the natural horizon line. Really look at what color(s) are there. One of my favorite arts instructors always said, “Trees are not just green!!” … and it is true! What actual colors are in the sky? Enjoy some time taking photos from different angles.
You will find additional ideas for math art, game and apps in Scottie Altland’s blog post Outdoor Summer Math Games & Apps.
The most important thing is to enjoy your time together this summer. As all grandmothers will tell you, the time passes.