By Deborah Williams
Children all across the country have either just completed the school year or have just a few more weeks before it ends. Of course, they are looking forward to long, lazy days that will require none of their typical school-day routine, and that includes none of the academic demands or mental rigor that their educators expect. While students expect this two-month downtime to relax and pursue fun and leisure activities, their parents should realize that allowing them to avoid all academic pursuits will bring on the dreaded “Summer Slide.”
Researchers have proven that the average student who is not engaged in academic activity during the summer will lose about two months of previously acquired academic skills by the time the new school year begins. Many parents turn to subject-focused camps and one-to-one tutoring services to make sure that their children do not slide during the summer and to even advance in their skills when possible. However, in these tough economic times, those kinds of opportunities may not be an option.
A recent post by Patrick Honner and Holly Epstein Ojalvo on the New York Times education blog, “These Days are Numbered: Eight Summer Math Ideas,” offers eight math ideas for parents to engage their children this summer:
- Go for the Gold – The authors suggest using the final standings, medal counts, world records, and economic impact for the host city as starting points for math activities such as making graphs to improve math skills.
- Watch Those Stocks – Have your child identify companies to chart their stock performance over the summer.
- Get Out of Town – The researching and planning for a trip—real or imaginary—can be the launching pad for several math activities that can include flight price comparisons, creating a budget, etc.
- The Race for the Pennant… – Use the summer to have your child follow how well his or her favorite baseball team does this summer.
- …And the White House – This summer’s presidential campaign is a good time to have your child track the progress of the candidates and the candidates’ total donations.
- Parse Personal Data – Have your child keep a record of some of his or her personal routines, like how much time they spend on social media. The following link will take you to a video about how major retailers use personal data in their businesses: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2012/02/17/magazine/100000001367956/timescast–retailers-predictions.html
- Track Weather Patterns – Your child can track temperature trends to see if there is any validity to the theories.
- Chart Summer Blockbusters – Have your child keep track of the box-office numbers to keep track of how this summer’s movies will fare with the movie-going public.