Teaching & Learning Blog

Advice on Keeping Math Skills Sharp this Summer
Meena Tahiliani

There are a number of dynamic and interactive ways to support math ability over the summer. Here are a few of my favorites, with some rationale and resources in accompaniment:

Practice mental math

“Next time you figure out an addition problem in your head, think about how you solve the problem. Do you make a ten or round to the next friendly number? Do you estimate? Do you double or halve a number? How do you solve the problem?” In this quote from her blog, Jessica Boschen aptly identifies several of the strategies I use to mentally combine numbers, all of which have made me a more adept and facile mathematician. Helping kids to learn to break apart numbers and recombine them in “friendly” ways allows them to enjoy greater accuracy as they compute, freedom from pen & paper & algorithm, and a stronger sense of number. Share your math thinking out loud this summer and ask your child to practice their mental math skills too in age appropriate ways.

Play games together

Games, which are known as Workplaces in our math curriculum, are an effective and engaging way to practice math skills. Most board games involve some form of counting and tallying, such as Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Monopoly, Qwirkle, Scrabble (great for vocab too), or Settlers of Catan. I remember loving Battleship, and now see it as a great way to learn coordinates, which supports graphing and algebraic skills later. Card games help kids learn probability in an intuitive way as they try to maximize the odds of a winning hand. Games and toys that support visual-spatial reasoning include Blokus, Jenga, Dominoes, Legos, mazes and puzzles.

Online Games or Apps

If your little one will be on a device anyway (this is not a request to put them on one!), there are a number of effective online tools which provide math practice. A few Woodland has used include:

Splash Math, an adaptive practice resource that has an online summer program too 

Freckle (formerly Front Row), offers differentiated instruction in math and other core subjects 

For younger mathematicians

Count everything. Count cherries in the bowl or beans on a dinner plate. Count steps to the second floor or from the car to the front door. Count by groups. For kids who have yet to learn to multiply, skip-counting by 2s, 3s, 4s, etc. establishes a foundation for multiplication. There are great skip-counting songs available online, or you can make up your own.  

More ideas can be found here: Ways a Parent Can Help with Math


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