Math Summer Enrichment Opportunities
It’s tough to imagine filling a lazy beach day with fractions, or stretching out in the back seat on a road trip and practicing long division. For many of us, summer and mathematics just don’t seem to mix.
But across the socioeconomic spectrum, kids arrive back at school every fall much worse off in mathematics than they finished in the spring. On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of learning in math over the summer — and teachers have to give up weeks of class time, or more, to make up for that loss.
The research is clear: Summer learning loss is a significant problem, playing a surprisingly large role in creating the achievement gap. Low-income kids can lose vast amounts of learning over the summerwhen they don’t have access to the same enriching activities as their higher-income peers, such as vacations, visits to museums and libraries, or even just time spent with family discussing academic concepts or everyday events. Schools and communities have tuned in to that challenge, finding more ways to partner with low-income families to ensure their children keep reading throughout the summer.
But it’s actually easier for kids — from all socioeconomic backgrounds — to forget what they learned in math over the summer than it is for them to lose reading skills.
The reason? Many parents — and their children — don’t think about math as existing outside of the classroom. “Parents often think that their kids learn math in school, and that it’s sort of the school’s domain,” says Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) doctoral student Kathleen Lynch. Many parents “may just be less inclined to do math at home,” she says. (Usable Knowledge Harvard University)
Four Ways to Beat the Summer Math Slump
To understand what specific interventions and home supports would alleviate summer math loss, more research is needed. But here are four fun ways for parents to help their children practice math skills over the summer, based on work by Christodoulou, Lynch, and HGSE’s master teacher in mathematics, Noah Heller.
- Highlight the math in every day activities. When shopping, help kids calculate change or discounts. When watching a baseball game, talk about what players’ statistics mean. When cooking, try halving or doubling a recipe, and assist kids in figuring out the new proportions.
- Read short math stories together. Studies have shown that reading math-focused stories to children, such as Bedtime Math books or the Family Math series, can help boost math scores in school.
- Play math games. Games like Yahtzee, Racko, Blokus, Monopoly, and Set all rely on skills necessary for math, such as counting, categorizing, and building. Even playing with blocks and assembling jigsaw puzzles can help kids learn spatial skills and recognize patterns.
- Find small ways to practice math at home. While worksheets alone won’t solve summer math slump, small amounts of practice with basic formulas can help. Problem-of-the-day math calendars are a great way to practice basic math problems on a small scale. Parents can also find resources on Investigations about what types of mathematical procedures they should be practicing with their children.
Below you will find links to grade Level specific opportunities that you can utilize this summer with your students.