Tips to Avoid 'Summer Math Slide' By Dr. Van the Math Man

School’s Out! - time for summer; vacations, water parks & teenage summer jobs, right? Before the kids go down the water park slide, take a minute to think about a different slide. Summer Math Slide

"Summer slide" describes the educational ground children could lose during the three-month break from school. It has been identified as a significant concern for reading. In fact, a 2002 report from Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning finds that "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year… It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material students have forgotten over the summer.”

 It is an even greater concern for Math. Research, provided on the National Association for Summer Learning website, states losses in math are somewhat greater than those in reading, and teachers often spend four to six weeks re-teaching material. Time lost becomes crucial as students enter more demanding math classes in middle and high school. 

But this does not have to happen. Summer is the perfect time for students to focus on catching up if they’ve fallen behind. Students can also focus on enrichment activities for skills enhancement and on preparing for next year’s classes. Getting ahead is now not only fashionable it is crucial when looking at high stakes tests such as the ACT or SAT in high school.

Math skills can be worked on and maintained using time to learn at home. Making use of math oriented websites such as NCTM’s Illuminations, or the Student Zone maintained by Texas Instruments is one way to do this. Students could also make use of their previous tests, yes tests! It is a good idea to keep tests from the previous year and to take time over the summer to work thru these tests to keep skills fresh.

Summer learning doesn’t have to be separate from summer fun. Activities can be enjoyed and still add educational value to summer. The great thing is that summer can be a source of different ways to explore math & science and practice math skills. Encourage them to observe and practice math in day-to-day activities, such as:

Calculating the volume and weight of water in the city pool, and the rate at which the pool will fill or drain; creating a summer budget or practice investing in the stock market. Planning the summer vacation including all or parts of the itinerary, mileage, expenses, schedules and estimated time of arrival and amount of money needed for gas money. (a variable activity daily) can all be used.

There are local and national summer camps and programs ones such as NASA Robotics Alliance Camp, Space Camp etc.  or you can make use of one of the very good tutoring programs which are available locally. Such as the program offered by Mathnasium. Also there are explorations that can be done with local educational events and for older students, jobs which are math or science related. Students can also volunteer in various activities. Of course there is the possibility of summer school if a student did not do well in a class

And don’t forget to read!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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