School’s out! Summer’s here. Time for soccer camps, bike rides, summer reading programs, and…math skills?
Yes, math. Although it’s fundamental in understanding our world, math can be one of the most frustrating subjects in school. This is true for parents as well, who often have to retrieve rusty skills from their own elementary math classes just to help their kids with their homework. This early dislike of math is often just disguised frustration at not being able to understand something the first, second, or even tenth time. Helping your child with math over the summer helps them get ready for the new school year, even those dreaded math classes.
Math isn’t just the numbers, though. The core of any math lesson is the ability to ask questions and solve a problem. What do we need to make this work? Why process can I use to make two separate parts work together in balance? Why did my chocolate chip cookies explode all over the bottom of the oven? (We’ll address that one in a minute.) To get kids to start asking these questions for themselves, we suggest exploring the math that’s already hidden around them in day-to-day activities.
Get mathy in the kitchen
Not sure where to start? Have your kids to cook and bake with you. Not only is it a fun opportunity to practice some life skills, but there’s a lot of practical math as well.
For older elementary students, cooking involves fractions, both basic and complex. If your child has mastered ¼+¼, they can work with thirds or improper fractions, or even doubling or halving your recipe. (Make sure you get the right proportion of ingredients to prevent chocolate-chip explosions).
For younger students, it can be a chance to practice simple addition or telling time. If we have six cookies on the cookie sheet, how many more do we need to make 12 cookies? If the cookies bake for fifteen minutes, at what time will we be pulling out the milk jug and enjoying our creation?
Count the Monopoly money
Don’t feel like turning on the oven in the middle of June? Play Monopoly! For preschool through second graders, this is a good way to add numbers through six with the roll of a dice. Let third through sixth graders try their hands at being the banker by adding up bills and making change.
Monopoly also comes with a several variations including Monopoly Junior (ages five and up) and Monopoly Empire, which is significantly shorter to play. More board games that use critical math skills can be found here.
Play fun math apps
It can sometimes be difficult to get the whole family together for an extensive activity like cooking or playing a game. Good news! There are plenty of other resources and apps for individual math practice, such as Khan Academy.