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  • Writer's picturemrsstunes

How to Beat the Summer Slide

More and more homeschooling families are opting for year-round instruction. Aside from the great flexibility that a year-round schedule can provide, it’s a great way to prevent summer learning loss. For those of us not on a year-round schedule, it's important to be aware of the "summer slide".


According to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, “On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of learning in math over the summer,” and a recent NWEA RIT Scale Norms Study estimated that after 7th grade, students lose between 20% to 50% of their school year gains during the summer.'


In short, the summer slide is real, and if your children are anything like my children, the chance of them wanting to do math over their summer is virtually nil. Sure, I could bribe them. You have probably seen a version of the “Summer Rules” idea being shared through social media. If not, here’s one of many versions:

It's truly a cleaver idea. Beyond the academics, your house will be tidier and your kid(s) will get some daily exercise. Parenting win!


For math, you could add Prodigy or Khan Academy, perhaps a workbook page, or simply some flashcard practice if your child is currently working on their math fluency. For a more subtle approach, here are some recommendations:


  • Read A Math Bedtime Story Check out the Biggest List of the Best Math Picture Books Ever compiled by Imagination Soup. It has all of my favorites, such as The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang and Bedtime Math by Laura Overdeck. I am excited to check out more from this list! If your kids are way beyond picture books, I recommend the classic Wayside School books by Louis Sachar (author of Holes). Two books from the series, Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School and More Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School. Books like these helped solidify my love for math growing up. The puzzles entwined throughout the book are brilliantly put together, and fun for kids and adults alike.


  • Play a Game Together My 12-year-old is obsessed with Yahtzee right now, and setting aside my concerns of a future gambling addiction, it’s fun to watch her work out the probabilities when deciding which dice to keep, and which to roll again. I love any game that requires kids to rely on skills necessary for math, such as counting, categorizing, recognizing patterns, problem solving, or calculating probabilities. In addition to Yahtzee, some of our favorites include Qwirkle, Set, Parade, Qwixx, Prime Climb, and Blokus. Though, almost any strategy game can support mathematical reasoning. The magic is in the questioning. What strategy did you use? How would your score change if you had made this move instead? What do you think will happen if...? What do you notice about...?


  • Math Scavenger Hunt When I was teaching middle school math, I used to do these scavenger hunts with my students every year. You can do them while camping, hiking, or just exploring around the house. Just hand your child a camera and a checklist of geometry terms and have them see what they can find.


  • Use Car Time Strategically Taking any long road trips this summer? Admittedly, my kids spend most of our long drives zoned out with headphones and a tablet. That way, there’s a lot less of, “Mom! His foot is touching me!” However, I do like to break it up with some audio books and short games. One of my favorite games is a mental math challenge called 24 (best for grades 3+). You choose 4 single digit numbers and compete to see who can make 24 first or play cooperatively to see how many ways you can come up with together. Here's an example with the numbers 1, 2, 4, and 9.

They sell the game, but we rarely come across four numbers that we can’t figure out how to make 24 with.

  • Do a Fun Craft Origami, tessellations, mandalas…the possibilities here are endless. Right now, my kids love making these hexaflexagons. My daughter has at least 15 of them floating around her room.


Not the hands-on type? Remember, math is everywhere. You don't need to plan anything elaborate to keep math relevant during school breaks. When cooking, talk about converting units, such as ounces to cups, or ask your child to help halve a recipe. When grocery shopping, talk about unit prices and which buy is the better value. When watching a sports game, talk about the player's statistics and what they mean. At the gas pump, have your child estimate the cost to fill up the tank and then compare to the actual result. Perhaps you're doing some summer redecorating and can have your child help measure out the space for a new piece of furniture, or you're on a road trip and you have them estimate the time it will take to get to your destination based on the distance and speed you're going. Most importantly...enjoy your summer:)


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