Summer Sums: Keep Math Skills Strong Over the Break

Your summer days are numbered — in more ways than one! Use these nine tricks to keep your child's math skills sharp, even when school is out.

A child with ADHD improving math skills over summer by running a lemonade stand

Math is everywhere — some might even say it's inescapable. And we're not just talking about those ubiquitous addition and subtraction worksheets. Math is at the grocery store, in your cupcake recipe, and powering those baseball stats. Summer is a great time to demonstrate how math relates to the real world, so use these ideas to keep your child learning.

A Cold One

A lemonade stand is a classic summertime activity for kids, and math is needed to keep it up and running. Younger kids can work on measuring and money-counting by mixing the lemonade and making change for customers. Older kids can be in charge of setting the price by determining the cost per serving and setting a profit margin.

Sports Spectator

The next time you take your child to a baseball game, add in a few math games while you cheer your favorite team.

Have your child play umpire and ask her to keep count of each batter’s balls and strikes. Additionally, she can keep track of the outs every inning, and how many innings are left before the game is over. Ask her questions, such as which inning marks the halfway point in the game, and how many runs the losing team needs to catch up.

If a player on one of the teams is close to breaking a home run record, have your child figure out how many more home runs he needs to meet and break the record.

Kitchen Fun

If you’ve got a sous chef on your hands, there is no better place than the kitchen to turn cooking and baking into a math lesson. Give your younger child tasks like sorting ingredients or counting how many eggs you need for a certain recipe. Older kids can work on number recognition and fractions by helping to measure ingredients, turning the oven to the correct temperature (with adult supervision), and dividing up the servings.

Grow Interest in Numbers

Avid gardeners know a little something about math, like how far apart your vegetable rows need to be or how deep a seed needs to be planted. The next time you’re sowing some seeds, ask your child to help. When harvest time rolls around, he’ll be proud to show off the fruits of his labor. Gardening as a family is a great way to spend time together, learn about nature, and eat nutritiously. The math part is a bonus.

Mall Math

Math problems abound at the mall, and many stores have summertime sales. The next time your teen’s favorite store is having a sale, take him shopping. Ask him how much he will be saving on a certain sale item. If a $25 item is 20 percent off, how much does it cost?

You can mix and match different prices and discounts, add several sale items together, and have your teen create an outfit from a pre-set budget. He might be surprised to see how much percentages, fractions, and decimals matter to one of his favorite pastimes.

Errand Arithmetic

The next time you take your child with you while you run errands, turn it into a learning activity. Calculating time and mileage is a fun way for your child to pass the time in the car. For example, if the grocery store is three miles away, how long does he think it will take you to get there? If you have several errands to run, ask your child how far away he thinks each destination is from the other, and then clock it to see how close his guess is.

Another fun car game is to use the numbers on license plates as an addition and subtraction lesson. Ask your child to add or subtract all the numbers he sees on the license plates you pass. Not only will he be learning math, you’ll be getting your errands done.

Sew Easy

Is sewing a favorite pastime that you would like to pass on to your child? The dog days of summer are a great time to teach your child this hobby, and math plays a big part in it. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting all use math to create pieces of clothing, quilts, or wall hangings: counting rows on a sock, adding yarn to make a piece bigger, multiplying to figure out how many times a certain color will fit across a motif. The possibilities are endless.

Eating Out

Busy summer days mean you don’t always have time to cook dinner at home. The next time you eat out as a family, use it as a math lesson. Ask your child to figure out the tip, and play a guessing game to see how much you think the bill will come to.

Countdown to Fun

Pool parties, picnics, and cookouts are summer activities to look forward to. If your child has a fun event coming up, start a countdown. The lesson is two-fold: It’ll improve her time-telling skills, and it’ll help pass the time until the event. For example, if she has a friend’s birthday party coming up in four days, ask her how long that is in days, hours, and minutes. You can even start a countdown for each of these.

Neighborhood Walk

Take a walk around your neighborhood or a local park, and look for different shapes and patterns in nature. For example, how far apart are the telephone poles from each other in your neighborhood? Are they all the same distance, or do they vary? Is there a pattern? This lesson can also be done with trees, fire hydrants, or flowers in a garden.

In addition, ask your child to find a living thing that is a square, rectangle, or circle. With so much to see and find, he’ll never know that you’re working on his geometry skills.

This piece originally appeared on familyeducation.com.


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