Monfredo: Helping Your Child With Math in the Summertime

Saturday, July 07, 2018
John Monfredo, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTERâ„¢

Yes, readers, during the summer vacation there is a “summer slide” that takes place when school is not in session. Years of research confirms what educators, including myself, have been saying for  a long time …during the summer vacation students lose too much of what they learned during the school year.  Students typically score lower on standardized tests after the summer break than they did before it. Most students lose two months of mathematical skills every summer and low-income children lose another two to three months in reading. On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.   

Often it is the students who can least afford to lose the gains they’ve achieved during the school year who fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer break from formal school instruction. Again, according to research, low-income children experience greater summer learning losses than their higher income peers mainly because they are not engaged in summer learning activities.

My column weeks ago on the summer vacation was centered on what parents can do to offset the summer slide in reading and writing and this one is all about math. Since the first column on summer learning, many parents have asked me how they can assist their child in math during the summer months.

First of all students without access to summer learning programs can still effectively reduce the summer slide by using online math programs with the assistance of a parent.   With web-based math instruction, students can utilize these programs as remedial tools, brushing up on last year’s lessons or getting a jump start on next year’s material, all on their own time. Internet access is all that’s needed for a math student to be completely immersed in a mobile learning environment, perfect for family road trips, long plane rides, or to mitigate rainy-day boredom over the summer break.


•    Khan Academy – free online math for all grade levels
•  -  free online math for all grade levels
•    10 Best math apps for kids
•    Coolmath-games free online
•    Math Magician


All-Star math…. Whether cheering for Red Sox on TV or watching other sports, games are a perfect time to practice math. Try out some of these questions to promote your child’s math skills:

-What shape is the field or court? How do you know?
  -How many more points does the losing team need to catch up?
  -How many players have scored points?  What’s the average per player?
  -How much time is left in this half (or quarter)? How much time is left in the game?
  -If that player hits a three-run homer, how many runs will the team have altogether?  If the team hits 4 two-run homers and one grand slam how many runs will they have?

How about card games?   Do you have a budding card shark in your family? Take advantage of interest in games by playing a math card challenge!  Remove picture cards from the deck.
The Ace represents 1… evenly deal a deck of cards between two players and each player places one card face up.  The first person to call out the product (or sum/difference) of the two cards wins the hand.  The player with the most cards in the end wins.  You can play addition, subtraction or multiplication with this game. Example: 9 and a 7 = 63 or could be 16 or it could be 2.  I have used this method and it’s lots of fun!

Driving … While driving in the car have mental math fun by asking your child to multiply, add, or divide numbers and make it a game. Example – what is 7 plus 9 divided by 2 – answer 8.  Get the idea!

Some other math activities you can do with your child in the car are… use a map scale of miles to estimate distances and travel times … how many miles per gallon does your car average on highways?  In the city? … What are the highest and lowest gas prices you can find on your trip?  How much money can you save by filling up your car at the lowest price? … License plate math is also a good one for try having the children add or subtract or multiply or divide the numbers you find on license plates.  You can work with as many digits as you wish.  For instance, you might treat the first number on a license as a divisor and the next three numbers as a three digit dividend.  Remember to have fun with it!

Then there is the Water Balloon Toss – Children love the water balloon toss! It can be a great way to practice math skills and cool off at the same time. Take turns throwing the balloon and challenging the other player with math facts. You might say, “4 x 6 = ?” When the other person catches the balloon, he or she must say the answer. Each time he or she answers correctly, the player must take a step backwards. How many equations can you solve before the balloon breaks?

Tradition math (Flashcards) …Of course, there is still the math flash cards that can be done in the morning during breakfast time or at bedtime or even watching T.V.  Nothing’s wrong with this activity for knowing your math answers quickly is important.  The rule is that the child gives an answer as quickly as you can tell me your name.  In addition, your child can study the flashcards on his own or when your child is in the car.

Learning alone and informally, or via a structured group for either part of the day or part of the summer will help to prevent summer learning loss and help your child stay sharp for school next year.  However, let’s also remember that summer is for relaxing, taking some time off, and just being a child, too. What we need to do is to balance fun with learning!  Remember there are many local options available …  Worcester Public Library, Social agencies such as the YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girl Scouts, and a host of other groups that are engaged in summer learning activities.   

If any of the readers have any questions please e-mail me at and I will get back to you.  Remember, a parent is a child’s first and most influential teacher so it’s up to you to continue the learning process in the summertime.  Good luck and make it a fun-filled learning summer.


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