You’ve heard about the summer learning slump before. Libraries across the country lament the loss of one month of reading skills during the summer and aim to encourage reading through various reward programs. Unfortunately, there’s more to the story.
Not only do children lose an average of one month of reading and schooling, they lose two months worth of math skills, four months of math computational skills and 5 months of spelling skills! It’s going to take more than a few trips to the library to ameliorate sliding math and spelling skills, but it might just be a bit more fun. Today we offer some fun ideas to get you started.
1. Play store.
Whether it’s a grocery store, toy store or general store, children love playing store! While they price items and check-out, they can practice counting, addition, subtraction, and budgeting skills.
2. Bring your little helpers into the kitchen.
While there is lots to know and learn for preparation, ingredient measurement and properly following a recipe, you can up the ante by halving or doubling or tripling recipes.
A recipe makes 36 cookies; only make 18 (the kids don’t need all that sugar anyway, right?), or up it to 72 or more (and make your house THE best place for the neighborhood kids to hang out). While they munch on warm chocolatey goodness, they’ve brushed up on measurements (including volume and weight), fractions, multiplication and division.
3. Add some math games to your board game collection.
Have some family fun while your children (and you!) brush up on math skills.
4. Introduce your older children (8+) to Scratch.
Scratch is a free, online programming game from MIT (so you know it’s good). As your children create games within Scratch, they exercise their mathematical and computational skills throughout the design process, but in a fun, meaningful, and motivational way. They can even save their games, follow their friends’ creations on Scratch, and play their friends’ games. (Please exercise proper parental guidance with this online community.)
And since you’re already at the library for that reading program….
Did you know that there are fun math books? Check out the Sir Cumference series, The Librarian who Measured the Earth, and The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos. There’s even some math that sneaks into the Mr. and Mrs. Green series of books. Ask your librarian for more choices your local library may offer.
5. Write on the refrigerator.
Do you still have that container of letter magnets sitting around somewhere? Dust them off and put them back on the fridge.
Encourage your child to spell what he or she is eating or doing that day. Popsicle! Banana! Science Museum!
Is your child too old for those chunky magnets? Grab the magnetic version of Scrabble or purchase Letter Tiles from All About Learning Press which not only includes single letters, but also includes phonograms like -th and -dge.
6. Just write.
One of the best ways to maintain spelling skills is to put them to use writing. If your child already enjoys writing, encourage them to write about their favorite subjects or to write silly stories or to write about themselves in a journal.
If your child stares blankly at a clean sheet of paper, don’t be afraid to offer prompts: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why? If you were a monster, what would you look like or be like? For more writing ideas, check out Journal Buddies.
7. Play a board game that requires spelling.
For even more fun, try the family of games by Bananagrams. The games play like a giant changing crossword puzzle. There’s the original Bananagrams, plus Pears in Pairs and Appletters for younger children.
8. Turn screen time into spelling time.
For the younger crowd, check out the PBS show Super Why (episodes are also currently available on Netflix) that teaches and reinforces phonics and spelling skills.
For older children (7+) try Scribblenauts. Originally a Nintendo DS game, it’s available on Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PC, iOS and Android. The game’s tag-line is fitting: “Write Anything. Solve Everything.” You just have to be able to spell it properly, too (although the game will give suggestions for misspelled words).
The default for summertime scholastic ventures may be light reading and fun, summer science experiments, but adding in spelling and math will give your child a boost where it really counts!