Why Your Child Needs to Focus on Summer Math: Tips and Fun Activities to Prevent the Summer Slide

As the weather turns warmer, your child is likely preparing a list of all the exciting things that they plan to do this summer:

Lounging by the pool, playing with friends at the park, watching TV, playing video games…

What’s likely not on their list is summer math.

Just because your child is on a break from school, though, doesn’t mean that it’s a time to take a break from learning!

Spending time each day prevents the summer slide, where your child could lose 2.6 months of math skills. It also creates an opportunity to nurture important skills, like analytical and critical thinking skills.

We’re sharing some summer math learning tips and activities that you can do with your child that can help ease them into the new school and actually have them excited for it!

1. Daily Enrichment and Routine to Keep Your Child’s Mind Sharp

Did your child grumble and groan last summer when it was time to head back to school?

After having fun at the pool and playing with friends for all of summer, it might be hard to get them excited and motivated. If your child takes a break from learning during the summer months, you might find them even more reluctant to shift their brains back into school-mode.

Creating a summer math routine where your child practices even just 15 – 30 minutes a day can help ease them through the summer to school transition.

Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate math into your child’s summer plans.

a.  Solving Puzzles and Riddles

When your child is out of school, it’s great to focus on concepts that they have difficulty with during the school year or that can push them toward becoming a strong critical thinker.

If your child had trouble with math during the school year, they might have found solving word problems, in particular, very difficult. Your child likely finds them confusing. Numbers, words, and distractors all floating around in their heads as they struggle to comprehend what the question is actually asking.

Use the time off from school to brush up on problem-solving strategies and how to utilize different methods successfully. Help your child illustrate the word problem and work on identifying key information.

Math riddles and puzzles are a great way to have your child work through word problems and use critical thinking skills.

Focus on one problem every day. Encourage your child to really try their best by giving them a reward or prize at the end of the week if they can solve five of the seven math riddles.

By turning it into a challenge, your child may have fun and forget that they are solving word problems!

If your child performs well in math, then find riddles that are a little more challenging and require them to think outside of the box to solve. These types of problems help them your child think creatively, which helps them become a strong conceptual thinker.

For math riddles and puzzles that you can give your child, check out some of these resources and sites:

b.  Playing Games

Your child likely finds summer and fun synonymous, which might be why they seem initially reluctant or wary to do any learning or instruction during summer.  

If this is the case, find fun summer enrichment activities to motivate your child. Games, for example, are a fun way for your child to learn. They also provide an opportunity for the whole family to join in and spend time together!

There are many card games and board games, like Yahtzee and Monopoly, that encourage your child to use their thinking skills.

Check out some of our game recommendations in this blog post.

You can also easily turn swimming pool games and activities into games!

In STAR, kids line up at the opposite end of the pol than the person who is “It.” The person who is “It” gives the initials of a movie title and hints for the other players to figure out the movie. When they realize the answer, they yell “Star!” and race to “It” to give their answer.

Replace movie titles with math questions to turn STAR into a fun math game! Depending on their age, you can use different concepts – from speed facts to equations to simple word problems.

c.  Math Worksheets and Workbooks

If you do a quick Google search on math worksheets, you’ll see there are over one hundred million results. The number of resources available may feel overwhelming as you try and pick the best learning material.

One thing to keep in mind if you’re hunting for assignments or workbooks is that you want to make sure that the focus is not just math drills. Familiarize yourself with your child’s math state standards and find assignments and workbooks that cover many different topics.

As an Academic Advisor for Thinkster Math, many parents ask me what grade level their child should focus on during the school year. The grade they just completed or the one they are going into in the fall?

This is something very individualized, which is why you should establish your goals for the summer from the start.

If there are areas that your child struggled with the previous school year, then summer is a great time to brush up on these skills. If you still have your child’s unit test grades, then you can use them to help you determine which topics to focus on during the summer.

For kids that are ready to learn new topics and like a challenge, working on topics from the next grade level is a great idea. This can give them a slight edge when they go back to school in the fall, which makes them more confident in the classroom!

Trying to figure out your child’s skill level and what worksheets to give might feel overwhelming.

Instead of trying to scrounge up material, your child gets a customized learning plan and tailored digital assignments when they’re a Thinkster student!

Your child is matched to an online math tutor, who analyzes their initial Skills Assessment to pinpoint specific areas of strength and weakness.

If there are topics from the previous school year that your child still needs help with, it’s easy for us to spot this on our Progress Matrix. If your child has mastered topics they just learned in school, then the tutor adjusts the learning plan to introduce concepts from the upcoming school year.  

Digital assignments are also a fun way to learn! Your child shows their work on the screen, hears motivating sound effects, and access video tutorials that take them through problem-solving strategies.

2. Strengthen Skills Your Child Struggled with Last School Year

If your child struggled last school year with math, it doesn’t mean that the same struggle needs to repeat next school year.

The school classroom moves fast, and your child may not have had the chance to understand concepts and learn at their pace.

You can try to determine what topics your child needs to practice from previous school tests – if your child didn’t throw the tests away already!

Better yet, your child’s Thinkster tutor analyzes the Skills Assessment and customizes a learning plan specific to your child’s needs and learning goals. The learning plan can focus on the areas where your child needs help the most and is self-paced. This means that your child moves forward when they truly understand and master the concepts!

This is incredibly beneficial for students who struggled in the classroom and felt as though they didn’t have enough time to understand the material.

Your child’s tutor also shares progress reports with you so that you can see when your child is really ready for the next school year.

3. Get Your Child a Step Ahead with Summer Math

Moving to the next school year can be both exciting and nerve-wracking for your child. It’s not just because they’ll have a new teacher and classmates, but also because they know there are higher expectations when it comes to their work.

Maybe they hear other kids talking in the school hallway that sixth grade is really hard, which has their stomach in a bit of a knot at the thought of moving up to middle school.

Make sure your child gets their fill of summer math by introducing some topics from the next grade level can have them jumping back into school more confidently.

First, check that your child is ready to start learning new topics. If they still need to focus on building foundational skills from the previous grade, then work on math topics from the previous grade first. When your child is ready, then you can start introducing upcoming topics from the next grade level.

Remember to refer to your state’s math standards to understand the topics that your child is going to learn and to approach the topics systematically.

As a Thinkster Math student, your child’s tutor can introduce topics and strategies from the next grade level when they are ready. The learning plan is carefully structured as your child starts to learn new concepts.

Take our fourth-grade fractions assignment sequence for example –

fractions worksheets

Your child works from left to right on the chart. The concepts are organized carefully so that your child is building upon skills as they master them.

This systematic and mastery-based approach helps ensure that your child retains the information long-term and is more confident in the classroom when their teacher introduces the topic.

4. Prep for Tests and Improve Study Skills

In middle school, it’s likely that the school has your child take a math placement test. This test places your child on a specific math course path that they follow through middle and high school.

The test could place your child in a Standard or Gift and Talented class or have them testing out of a class altogether. For example, if your child excels on the test, they may not need to take Pre-Algebra and instead move directly to Algebra I.

Use the summer and Thinkster’s systematic and mastery-based learning approach to prep for placement tests or prepare for the next school year if your child already tested into a higher level of math.

In addition to placement tests, summer is also a great time to boost up on skills that your child typically has difficulty with during the school year.

Test-taking, study skills, and time management are all areas that your child may have more difficult as they grow older. This is because classroom expectations increase and, with it, your child’s workload!

Use the time during summer to improve skills that help your child organize their time and studying techniques.

Working with a coach provides a great opportunity to improve these skills! Hiring a coach can help your child organize their mind as they complete tasks. Your child also learns how to effectively and efficiently use their time when studying or completing assignments.

Thinkster Math tutors, in particular, are great with helping students prepare in these areas! Your child’s Thinkster tutor helps your child understand working through assignments in a disciplined manner and through a carefully designed approach.

Working routinely and systematically is a discipline that your child can then take right to the next school year when they go back to school in the fall!

 

Conclusion

Summer is full of fun, but it’s not a time to hit the breaks on learning or summer math.

If your child is a little reluctant to do any summer math, then incorporate it into activities that they enjoy. Solving math riddles and playing fun games are subtle ways to keep your child’s mind sharp and prevent the summer slide.

Even just spending fifteen minutes a day practicing math can make a difference! Consistency is important, and having a structured math learning program, like Thinkster, ensures your child has a clear routine and understands their daily expectation before playtime starts.

Your Thinkster tutor is ready and excited to work with your child!  Whether your summer goals are to rebuild skills from the previous school year or to begin introducing topics from the next, the learning plan is customized specially for your child.

To have your child’s math skills assessed and start a customized learning plan with digital assignments, register for our free trial here.

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Kendra Straley

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