The school year is over. Your children are yours!
Over the break, you can be your children’s best math teacher. I am not asking you to do any kind of tutoring. However, there is so much that you can do just in your normal family life. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking. At the end, I have put some internet links that you may also find useful.
A key point to remember is that the things you do together should be natural. Look at “problems” as you see or use them. Don’t make up artificial situations just to “challenge” your children. It is also important to listen to your children’s thinking. It may not be the same as yours, but see if it makes sense. Finally, don’t try to take advantage of every situation. You don’t want them to feel as if doing something with mom or dad will always means a math lesson!
Point out to your middle schooler how math is being used all around you. Talk about it, explain how you are using it, and ask for your children’s help in different situations.
- Traveling: There is plenty to do while on the road. Your children can keep track of expenses and distances traveled. They can read maps and schedules and make basic conversions for currency. Use and explain estimation skills. Get some math puzzles or apps (logic, number, patterns, etc.) for long flights or road trips.
- Shopping: There is a whole world of opportunity in a supermarket. Figure out what the costs of certain items will be if you buy six (or however many you need) of a particular item. Estimate how many cans are on a shelf. Explain how you decide which product is a better buy.
- Sports: Track a favorite team or player’s statistics.
- Take a trip to a museum, observatory, or library. Critical thinking, even if not directly math-related, is a good thing. Expose your son or daughter to lots of interesting new ideas to think about.
- All children can benefit from being involved with cooking. Measuring and comparing skills get a good workout. For some students, it will be good practical reading practice, too!
- Weather. Keep track of the weather. Compare the weather where you are spending the summer with what is happening in Tashkent. Make a graph or chart of highs and lows or rainfall. Compare to the averages.
- Also, all children can benefit from strategy games like Battleship and Score-Four. You can get them as board games or as apps.
I have not emphasized math drills and computation practice. Computation is just one (important) part of math. However, if you or your child sense that skills are not where they should be, then do practice. All students at this point should know the basic facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—quickly and correctly. If multiplication is a problem, see my earlier posting with good links for practice.
Finally, your children’s IXL accounts will still be open for the summer, so encourage them to visit the site periodically. It might be a good option to keep in mind if you are stuck in an airport that has wi-fi.
I have enjoyed working with your sons and daughters this year.
Have a great summer!
Some sites for parents to check out…
http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/math/math.pdf This gives parents a pdf file of a booklet put out by the US Department of Education. It contains a number of activities that are appropriate for students of all ages. At the end of it are some well-known books with math themes and ideas. You may want to add those to your shopping lists or look for them in a public library.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ There are a number of games and activities put up by the BBC. They are organized by levels based on the UK system. Middle schoolers would be in KS3.
http://www.figurethis.org/ This is a great site for families to work on together.
http://www.education.com/worksheets/middle-school+high-school/math/ This is a commercial site that will allow you to print off five free logic puzzles that use computation. You will need to register (free).