According to this article, the average kid loses two months of math computational skills over the summer. No one wants to see their kids forget so much, but it’s especially frustrating for us homeschool parents who worked hard to teach those computational skills in the first place–and will have to reteach them in the fall.
So, how to handle summer learning loss? I’ve put together a list of cheap and easy options for keeping up your child’s math skills over the summer.
1. Prepare your rising kindergartner to start a formal math program.
If you’ll have a kindergartner in the fall and you haven’t done much math together, summer is a perfect time to work through Preschool Math at Home. These simple, short activities that will build your child’s number sense in just 5 minutes a day.
2. Help your child master the addition and subtraction facts.
Summer is a great time to master the addition and subtraction facts so that your child is ready to tackle more complex concepts in the fall. With short lessons and fun games, Addition Facts That Stick and Subtraction Facts That Stick are perfect for reviewing and mastering the math facts.
3. Continue your homeschool math curriculum daily.
If you haven’t finished your math curriculum, or if your child is behind where you’d like him to be in math, you can just keep going. As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to choose any schedule we want!
4. Continue your homeschool math curriculum, but only twice a week.
Doing just a couple lessons each week is a great option if you want to keep going with your curriculum, but feel like you need a bit of a break, too. Two lessons per week times the twelve weeks of summer is 24 lessons–more than a full month of math, but you get some days off, too!
5. Play math games.
Math games are perfect for summer. They’re fun, they’re interactive, and they don’t feel quite so much like “school.” My free math games have a variety of games that you can play with kids who are at different levels in math. You can also investigate this wonderful set of variations on War that cover everything from number recognition to positive and negative integers.
If you’d like a more complete set of math games (and are willing to invest a little money), I highly recommend RightStart’s game options. You can buy their addition games or multiplication games for just $7.50 each, or you can buy the full set for about $60. It’s pricey, but if you and your kids love math games, it’s a worthy investment.
6. Use technology to your advantage.
If your child finds technology motivating, there are many good apps out there for math practice. My personal favorite is Dreambox. There’s a monthly fee, but I’ve found it well worth it for my own kids. Xtramath is a great site for free, no-frills online fact practice. For apps, my two favorites are MultiFlow for the multiplication facts and FlowPlus for addition and subtraction. Both provide a nice variety of games and give the parent a lot of options for customizing the app to target the specific facts you want to work on.
7. Review the year with word problems.
Word problems help kids review and consolidate their math knowledge. I’ve liked using Evan-Moor’s Daily Word Problems for summer math. They have a nice mix of problems and give kids practice in a variety of skills. (Buy the book for the grade your child is going into, as the books are fairly easy.) The book is set up as 36 weeks, with five problems per week. I’ve had my kids do five problems per day and spread it over the summer.
8. Read some math.
Life of Fred is a quirky, conceptual curriculum that uses a storybook format, with just a few questions at the end of each chapter. I have reservations about using it as a full elementary curriculum, but it makes a great supplement. If your child prefers to read math rather than do math, he’ll enjoy reading about Fred’s adventures.
Seeing math in an entirely different context will help him make connections between topics and review the big picture of math. Pick a book that covers the concepts you covered this past year for a fun review. Life of Fred may be available at your library, too, so check there first.
9. Practice problem-solving with Math Stars.
I first heard about Math Stars from Maria Miller, the author of Math Mammoth. Here’s what she says about them.
I have used Math Stars problem solving sets with my girls for several years, and they have always greatly enjoyed them.
Math Stars include various puzzles and challenging math problems. They come as PDF files (free and ready to download & use) in sets for grades 1-8. They’re great to use for summer math or for some fun problem solving at any time.
They look terrific, with a wide variety of problems and puzzles. Maria has links to all the grades here.
10. Try a volume of Beast Academy (or any other curriculum you’ve been wanting to try.)
If you’ve been intrigued by my review of Beast Academy or have been thinking of trying a new curriculum, summer is a perfect time to experiment. Download some samples or buy the first volume and give it a try with your child. You may find you love it and want to use it during the school year, or you may discover it’s not your cup of tea. Either way, you won’t have wasted school time figuring it out.
11. Use the Math Mammoth Blue Series to review a specific topic.
If your child struggled with a particular topic this year, summer is a great time for a little reinforcement. The Math Mammoth Blue Series has a variety of (mostly self-teaching) worktexts that focus on just one topic. I’ve personally used several with my own kids and a tutoring student. I’ve been impressed at how well they develop place-value concepts and mental math strategies, in addition to providing practice with written computation.
12. Take the summer off.
If your kids usually remember their math well over the summer, or you don’t have the time and energy for math this summer, it’s okay to just take the summer off. Perhaps your child would benefit more from some focus on reading skills, or you’re having a new baby this summer and just won’t have time. You know what’s best for you, your kids, and your family as a whole, so trust yourself (and don’t feel guilty when you’re talking with your friend who does school all summer!)
Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!
Updated May 2017