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Dive into 6 Fun Ways to Close Summer Math Learning Gaps

30 minutes, 3 times a Week Can Prevent 'Summer Slide'

Research for over a hundred years—since 1906!—confirms the “summer slide” phenomenon. More recently, studies like those from Rand Corporation tell us that students can lose a month or more of learning, and that summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students. According to the National Summer Learning Association, by fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students two-and-a-half to three years behind their peers. But it isn’t inevitable. Even if students aren’t enrolled in summer learning programs, sneaking learning into play makes math a natural part of summer activities and keeps up learning engagement—and fosters engagement with grownups, too. Change the course of summer slide and retain math skills with activities that are fun for parents and kids to do together.

The key is to spend at least 30 minutes, three times a week practicing math concepts with real-life activities. Here are six tips that make math learning part of summer fun:

  1. Play the “War” card game to learn about numbers. The more children use numbers, the better they understand number relationships. “War” helps kids recognize numbers that are greater than or less than others. Or, each player can take two cards from the pile and add (or subtract or multiply) the two numbers. The bigger number (or smaller number in subtraction) wins that round. This not only helps kids practice computation skills, it improves mental math strategies as well.
  2. Draw geometric shapes. Most kids love to draw. Why not incorporate shapes and geometric vocabulary? Ask: How can you make an ice cream cone using two shapes? Talk about the attributes of the shape. How many sides does the triangle have? How many angles? Which lines are parallel?
  3. Create a project that requires measurement. Build a birdhouse or a dollhouse, or sew a quilt. Discuss the tools you’ll need to use and how to get exact measurements. Data analysis and probability Graphing research. A lot of research can be done in and around the house. Collect data, organize it, and interpret the results together.
  4. Bake cookies. First, goto the store to shop for ingredients—and lemonade to go with them. Look at labels and discuss ingredients and measurements. Once you’re in the kitchen, following a recipe uses math and reading skills.
  5. Talk about money. It’s never too early to learn about how money works in the real world. Discuss how interest works, or better yet, start a small bank account so allowance has a place to grow. Use the newspaper as a teaching tool to talk about how financial markets work. Check out this Forbes article that has great ideas about teaching money lessons at every age.
  6. Flashcard splash at the pool. Bring flashcards for quick ideas or assistance. As kids get ready to jump into the pool or lake, a math question is called out. The jumper must answer before they hit the water. Create teams and the team with the most correct answers wins!

You get the idea. The more kids practice and use math in their daily lives, the more they retain for success in the new school year and in their lives. The more they practice, in whatever form, the more they will retain, and the more successful they will be as they start the next school year.

Learn how a mom prevented summer math learning loss

One of the best ways to keep kids engaged in math learning in the summer or anytime is with quality, online programs. Check out what this mom said in her blog about how DreamBox prevented summer learning loss for her son.

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