4 Ways to Stop Your Kid’s Math Scores From Slipping Over the Summer

by Melissa on July 4, 2011

Summer is a busy and fun. It’s also a time an alarming number of kids forget some of things they spent so much time learning during the school year. Here’s four easy and authentic ways you can reinforce those Math skills when you’re out and about:

1. Mall Math How many cars in the parking lot? Pose puzzle questions for your kids to grapple over. They’ll have to figure out how many cars can park in a row. Hopefully they’ll remember that multiplying the number of cars by the number of rows will get them the right answer.

2. Restaurant Reasoning Carry around cash so whenever you’re out your child can use money in a real way. This will not only ensure that they’ll have a more concrete understanding of how money is used, but it has the added bonus of teaching the value of a dollar. Make sure to have a pen or pencil ready so they can total their entire order, pay for the bill, and count the change to make sure they got the right amount back! If they’re older, review how to find the percentage of the total so they can determine the fair amount to tip. Have a discussion about service, the importance of doing a job well done, and then decide together whether to leave 15% or 20%. Another spin would be to give your child the cash ahead of time and then they have to determine how much they can afford to eat. Of course, they’ll have to figure in the tax and tip ahead of time.

3. Bank Estimation Estimating is a tough skill to get. The only way it’s learned is through practice, practice, practice. When you’re in line at the bank, have your kiddo estimate how many people are in the room. A little trick is having them count ten people and then use that to help them eyeball the room before they make their estimate. If the line’s really long, have them count the people one by one and compare the total number of people to the total number of people they estimated.

4. Movie Time So your peanut has been begging to see Cars 2 or Mr. Popper’s Penguins? On the day you’d love to take them, have them get the list of times. Tell them what you have to do after the movie (make dinner, visit a friend, walk the dog, etc.). Then ask, “When exactly will this movie be over? I need to know the time so I can make sure we can fulfill our other obligations.” After they do the math is the perfect time to ask them, “But what if there are three previews? They usually last about four minutes each. What time will we get out then?”

Making math a part of the normal routine ensures your kids will be practicing their skills so they don’t feel behind when the school year starts. It also gives them a much more solid base for understanding math concepts than a worksheet ever could.

Turns out, you’ll probably be giving your kid an extra edge when the year starts.

Melissa Spiegelman  is the founder of Tandem Teaching, where she provides strategies and solutions for parents whose children  are experiencing classroom struggles, and an expert consultant to the  USC/LAUSD/RAND/UCLA Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools. Melissa also teaches art playgroups for toddlers.  Contact her for a private coaching session.