With back-to-school just around the corner, parents can do a lot to start preparing their young children for math class again.
And they should.
A summer away from school can be a lot of fun for children, but it can also result in the well-known summer slide, when math concepts and skills deteriorate with each passing week. The time to address this is right now. With just a little effort this erosion can be mitigated, says Larry Martinek, Chief Instructional Officer at Mathnasium.
Importantly, working on math skills with young children is not only valuable – it can be fun.
“Math practice needn’t be drudgery. In fact, it can be a great everyday opportunity for bonding between young children and their parents. When you’re at a restaurant, give your 3rd or 4th grader the bill and ask him to calculate the change. Or, when you are heading to an appointment, tell your daughter when you need to be there and how long it takes, and let her figure out what time to leave,” Larry explains.
Below are 5 tips for sharpening up young children’s math skills. They were developed by Larry, who created the Mathnasium Method™ taught at all Mathnasium centers.
1. Change: Have your child calculate how much change you should receive when shopping at restaurants, retailers, and grocery stores.
2. Time: Ask your child to figure out when to leave for destinations by explaining what time you need to arrive and how long it takes to get there.
3. Fair Trades: Tell your child you have 6 quarters and ask how many dimes that equals.
4. Problem Solving: When your child is invited to a birthday party, ask how many months younger or older the friend is than your child. Ask how old your child will be when the friend is a certain age.
5. Splitting in Half: If a pound of candy costs $6, ask your child how much ½ pound costs. If ½ pound is $1.50, ask how much a whole pound costs.
The key to sharpening math skills, as with many other activities, is to use them, Larry says. By asking the types of questions above through the remainder of the summer, math will climb back to top of mind and the everyday nature of the questions will emphasize that math is an important and useful skill.
Mathnasium offers free booklets titled Math Tips for Students and Math Tips for Parents that are available at most Mathnasium franchise locations in the U.S.