6 ways to sharpen your child's math skills this summer

Compiled by Nicole Shepard, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Mon, Aug. 4, 2014, 5:05 a.m. MDT

 School's just around the corner and it's time for kids to sharpen their math schools.

School's just around the corner and it's time for kids to sharpen their math schools.

(Getty Images)

School has been out for over quite a while and according to National Summer Learning Association, 75 percent of students will experience learning loss, especially in math if they aren't actively maintaining it.

Sesame Workshop has teamed up with the National Summer Learning Association, Scholastic and other education organizations to help arm parents with the tools they need to keep children from falling behind in math this summer.

The program is called “Math Is Everywhere” and is designed for students aged 4 to 12. Here are six of the ways to keep your kids using math everyday without them seeing it as homework.

1. Keep them counting

Playing games with two or more sets of dice is a great way to keep their addition fresh in a fun way. Ask the child how many each roll adds up to before moving along.

Snack time during play dates can also be a great way to get your child counting. Ask your child to count out pretzel sticks, apple slices and cookies to be sure everyone gets an equal portion.

2. Get them baking

“One of the best ways to incorporate math into everyday life is by allowing your child to help you cook,” Michelle Pratt with Connections Academy said. “When cooking, it is important to understand numbers, particularly conversions and fractions.”

“Ask your child to be in charge of adding in the ingredients,” Sarah Marcus at Learner.org said. “Ask questions like, ‘If we only had the half cup scoop how many scoops would we need to get to three cups?’”

You can also double, triple or half a recipe and have your older children tell you the conversion.

3. Start a small business

Kicking your children’s entrepreneur instincts into gear is another great way to keep their math skills sharp. Opening up a lemonade stand or a snack shack requires counting money and keeping track of inventory

“Letting your children run a lemonade stand or be in charge of your next yard sale will help them understand business skills like supply and demand and profits and losses,” Pratt said.

4. Make a budget

Before the next pool or picnic trip, plan a snack budget and take your children shopping and make sure they stick to the snack budget. Or if you visit a baseball game give your child a $10 bill and ask her to get snacks for the whole family that won’t exceed the money given.

Making these budgets and helping your children stick to them not only reinforces what they know about subtraction but also will help them understand the importance of staying on budget and not going into debt.

“Financial literacy has to be taught consistently and from a young age,” Michael Davidson, head of OECD childhood and schools division, said. “And it is not a subject parents can leave to teachers. Responsible decisions have to be made by parents on behalf of their children.”

5. Plant a garden or make a sports court

“Planting a garden of any size requires math,” Pratt said. “You need to calculate the length and width of your garden as well as spacing of your plants using measurements in inches, feet, centimeters, meters, etc. Without accurate measurements, you risk overcrowding your plants and vegetables.”

If gardening isn’t a possibility, you could plan out a badminton court in the backyard or draw a half basketball court on your driveway with sidewalk chalk. Find out proper measurements, get a yardstick and have your child help measure it out. Chances are the preparation will be as fun as the games themselves.

6. Take them shopping

Like planning a budget, shopping requires planning ahead. Shopping is a great math activity for all ages. For the young, there is counting out the produce and cans of soup, for the older kids there is weighing out produce and figuring out the cost of each bundle.

“Whether you’re grocery shopping or shopping for a new outfit,” Pratt said, “it is important to stay within a budget. Have you child keep a running estimated balance and compare it to the balance on your receipt after checkout.”

Shopping sales can also be a great way to practically teach your children percentages. Have your child calculate the price of an item that is 25 percent off and then see how those sales fit into the overall budget.

EMAIL: nshepard@deseretnews.com TWITTER: @NicoleEShepard

Related story:

Stay smart: 3 ways to academically engage your kids this summer

1. birder
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 4, 2014

The best way to help your elementary schooler succeed in math is to have them memorize the multiplication facts. Most of my 5th grade students don't know them, and math facts are critical to everything we study.

2. wrz
Phoenix, AZ,
Aug. 4, 2014

Take them shopping? What, so they can count up how much money you don't have?

3. Barbara Anne
Los Angeles, CA,
Aug. 4, 2014

One of my math teachers of long ago would do mental math every morning before we did snything else in his class. No paper or pencils were allowed. I learned so much from that year. I would do the same thing with my own children years later while driving in the car. It was a game they liked. They all are quite good in mathematics.

4. wrz
Phoenix, AZ,
Aug. 4, 2014

I ask high school kids what the square root of a negative nine is (Ans: 3i).

I also ask them if they can recite the quadratic. To my amazement one kid did (ans: negative b, plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac, all over 2a).

I am surprised and elated that they can tell me the answers because I know they love math and pay attention in math class.

5. I know it. I Live it. I Love it.
Provo, UT,
Aug. 7, 2014

Put them in piano lessons. Music helps us develop coordination, timing, sensitivity to sound and pitch and timbre, and emotional development. Not only will it contribute to better brain functions for math- it will contribute to their entire life's future.

People often say they wish they had stuck with the piano. I've never heard anyone say that about math. I'm not saying one is more important, just equally important. In an age of iphones, people need tactile, meaningful, and emotional experiences. Where music provides that and the features mentioned above, it always astounds me that people don't seem to see that so readily.

Many of the most successful people in the world attribute their learning a musical instrument to the development of key parts of their behavioral success.

To those of us who know from experience, it's a no-brainer.