Several weeks away from teacher’s instruction can seem like a long time, especially if your child struggles with a certain fundamental subject like reading, writing or maths. Applying the lessons learned in the school environment to the ‘real’ world (i.e. life outside of school) will help consolidate those lessons in the child’s mind leading to a deeper understanding.
If your child struggles with maths and you are worried that when September comes around he will be set back even further as a result of the lack of practice over the two months, include maths into your summer days. Here are a few ways that we have included maths into our ‘out of school’ days.
Be lazy, sit in the car, turn up the radio and send your child/children into the shop to buy the groceries. Make sure they know how much money you’ve given them and what exactly is on the shopping list. The list can be long or short, that will depend on your child’s age and ability. Your child will have the responsibly of making sure that the price of goods doesn’t exceed their budget. When they return to you, thank them (they did you a favour and they’ll appreciate being appreciated) and ask them how much change did they get if any. It doesn’t need to be a quiz, they can take it out and count it, but turning their attention to the amount of change they received will encourage them to do some simpler maths in their heads.
This activity will work best if your child has come shopping with you on a regular basis before. They will be used to the local shops’ layout and be somewhat familiar with the shop assistants. This will encourage them to shop on their own where otherwise there may be unwillingness due to unfamiliarity and shyness.
Depending on your child’s ability, bring your child’s attention to the varying prices of goods as you shop together. Take your time to compare prices of goods that are similar in quality so that you are getting value for money by looking at the price per kilo/litre (this is usually the small print beneath the unit price). What a valuable life lesson you are teaching your kid for the future, all those extra cents add up!
Although we would try to avoid sitting down to practice our maths skills during the holidays (too much like school!), there are some very good puzzle books for kids in bookshops. These can be left out in an accessible area for your children to dip in and out of during the holidays. We are looking forward to dipping into the “Mensa Kids, Train your Brain” puzzle book this year. There are some puzzles in there that will wake my little brain up too!!
There are some good interactive games on the internet that will encourage the practice of maths skills including problem solving and arithmetic. One such game which is popular in our house is FRIV. This has lots of free games inside full of little fun journeys and problems that need to be figured out by the player (I love it myselfJ)
Another creative game full of geometric shapes to design with as well as challenges along the way depending on your chosen edition, is “MINECRAFT”. It is a great way to practice and improve on your child’s spacial awareness. However this game can be addictive and seems to be never ending, so be wary and set down some ground rules from the get go (like time restraints etc.).
Classic Board Games
The timeless games of Draughts and Chess are a great way to encourage problem solving and forward planning which involves counting and envisaging future moves to get the better of your opponent. Chess, in particular, requires devising a winning plan involving the combination of various shaped moves to defeat your opponent. Then problems are thrown into the mix which need figuring out, after all your opponent has winning on their mind too!
Games like Snakes & Ladders and Dominoes are invaluable in their effectiveness in number recognition and understanding simple mathematical concepts like more than/less than/equal to. These two games are perfect to play from the pre-school age up to any age.
Cook or Bake From a Recipe
Look up some recipes that interest your children, making sure that it is not something they know how to cook/bake already. They will need to take note of ingredients, taking care when weighing them out correctly. The more organised and tidy the workspace is the better, as your child will have clear focus on measurements and not distracted by the chaos of a messy surface. Why not double up on a recipe so that a little multiplication is needed when figuring out measurements.
Encourage your child to share out snacks or meals (eg a pizza) evenly among the family members or whoever is at the dinner table. Enlist help from your child to help you divide things up evenly. This is a great practical and visual way to practice multiplication and division.
Your Child, The Quiz Master
Let your child set up little maths quizzes. I say little, but these quizzes in our house can last for hours and sometimes past bedtime (a good motivation!). Any writing material can be used, whatever interests your child, like paper & pen, chalk & path, finger & sand. When the child is the maths quiz master they will naturally practice the maths skills that they have already learned and this is a great opportunity for them to practice these skills as they will be figuring out the answer in their own head to make sure they know how you have scored. At the beginning of the quiz, show your child that you are thinking hard to figure out the answer. As the quiz continues though, answer the questions a little quicker encouraging him to up the ante with trickier maths equations for you both to figure out!
For more school holiday ideas, check out literacy during the holidays