As you may know, I am currently studying for my graduate degree in math, so math skills are very important to me. Math is not only about computation, but also logic and ordered thinking. The following is a guest blog post from Zap Zap Math on helping your kids maintain their math skills over the summer in fun ways.
Building and nurturing a child's numerical skills takes great patience and creativity. This becomes an interesting challenge over the summer, when studying is not the first thing that will come to the minds of our young ones. Still, as we have come to see how important math is in our daily lives, and how prevalent summer learning loss can be, it is important to prioritize this continuous stream of learning. The good news is you won't have to worry about that this summer.
Make Some Music
If it's something you can afford, music lessons are a great way to get kids to do math in a creative manner. If not, simple introductions to music using games or videos online can be just as impactful. Yes, you heard right, music and math are somewhat correlated. Igor Stravinsky was a 20th century Russian composer who said that "musical form is close to mathematics", and that's an opinion that's been shared and utilized by many other musicians and mathematicians alike.
The theoretical basis behind music is very much connected to mathematical concepts. Of course, this doesn't mean your child has to be the next Mozart to be able to do math, it's just a fun way to have them engage with math, since learning music involves counting, and learning the concept of timing, beats and rhythm. As a start, watch this brilliant TED-Ed video, which explores the complex link between Beethoven's music and mathematical equations.
Indulge In Sports
Over the summer, kids naturally want to enjoy their freedom, and this means they will be expect to be able to play - A LOT. That's totally fine, and while it's important to let them have the time to enjoy themselves freely, this liberation can be peppered with learning, in a subtle way. Applying math to real life situations can help kids to understand just how important math is in our everyday lives, and using activities they enjoy can help get them accustomed to this.
Physical activities like sports have elements of math in them too, that require knowledge of counting and keeping score. So this doesn't only extend to playing sports, but even watching sports. Whether you want to take them to a baseball game or teach them how to play, you can incporporate math as part of the learning process, and they won't even feel like they're "doing" Math. Either way, it's a win-win situation becaues once your kids understand the math behind their favourite sporting activities, they will have gained knowledge in both math and sports.
Have Fun With Math Games
For something the whole family can participate in, try DIY games. With a wealth of resources online (try Pinterest!), you can find relatively inexpensive ideas to generate at home. Making it into a family project is also a great way to bond over summer, whilst learning at the same time. If not, break out the old school games that we used to enjoy as kids. Nothing like good old fashioned board games and playing cards to stir up some healthy competition in the household. Besides introducing tech-savvy kids to alternative means of fun, these games are also a great way to learn math, take games like chess, and even a deck of UNO cards that can be used for math games.
Cook Up A Storm
Incidentally, another way to get ahead in math from the comfort of your home leads us to the kitchen. Now don't worry, you don't have to be a Masterchef for this. All recipes require basic mathematical skills, and can be a fun way to learn cooking and math simultaneously! Even making a jug of lemonade or baking a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies could work, since measurements and counting skills are needed for these. That could even lead to a cool summer job - a lemonade stand, which is yet another way to teach kids the importance of numbers, by using currency. Again the benefits are plenty, as you'll be giving them the freedom to explore math in a different manner, as well as teaching them life skills that they'll be able to hold on to forever.
Plug In with Apps and Online Math Games
Frankly, the list wouldn't be complete without some form of learning that occurs via our electronic devices. There are many options out there for kids in terms of apps and online games that focus primarily on building and sharpening math skills. For one thing, the interactive and dynamic nature of online apps will capture and hold the kid's attention. On our own blog, we've gone into how gaming is vital to learning, and this matters whether it occurs in a classroom or not. There is much that can be gained from exposing kids to games, and it goes beyond mere entertainment. Critical and creative thinking skills are extremely vital to a child's learning, and these can be honed by way of such games.
We hope these five tips have inspired you to take on new and fun challenges with Math this summer. Have you got any other ways to make sure your kids stay familiar with Math concepts over summer? If your answer is yes, then share your tips with us! With a community sharing great ideas, we can all strive to ensure that the stigma of learning Math can be overcome, not only in summer, but all year round.
ZAP ZAP MATH BIO
Team Zap Zap is committed to making learning fun for kids, with their free math app — Zap Zap Math. The app combines 800+ games and high quality educational content aligned with Common Core standards, plus comes enhanced with Learning Analytics for teachers and parents to track learning outcomes. Discover why 9 out of 10 teachers and parents say Zap Zap Math improves their kids' math skills here on their website.