The Times West Virginian

Family Times

July 16, 2012

Use the summer months to build kids’ math skills

Helping children become mathematical thinkers is an important way to support a child’s classroom learning.

Children typically forget some of what they learned during the school year if they don’t engage in learning activities over the summer. This is particularly true in math. A study by researchers at the University of Missouri shows that on average, students lost about 2.6 months of math learning over the summer.

That means classroom teachers spend weeks reviewing math facts and concepts in the first few weeks of school.

Third-grade teacher Linda Eisinger, a GreatSchools consultant and the 2005 Missouri Teacher of the Year, asks her students to take the flashcards they have made home for the summer.

“Math is so sequential,” she said. “We tell parents that children just cannot forget everything we teach them during the year.”

She also suggests a math twist for a license plate game families can play in the car. Ask children to add up the numbers in the license plates of passing cars. Assign a value to the letters; for example, every letter equals 5. Older children can multiply the numbers.

“Children love ideas like this that are kind of quirky,” she said. “They seem more fun, not like work.”

Increase a child’s awareness of numbers by looking around the house to find examples: the kitchen clock, the calendar, a cereal box, a TV dial, a stamp or inside her shoe. Have her write down the numbers she sees, or give her a number and ask her to look around the house for examples of the number.

Boost an older child’s awareness of how numbers are used by pointing out the movie times, weather forecasts and sports statistics in the daily newspaper.

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