Ah, summer. For kids, it’s the greatest time of year. No school, no multiplication tables, no scheduled break times. Just long, happy days in the sun.
But what happens to children’s brains during that time of relaxation and fun? It’s a fact of life – during the summer months, young students will lose a certain amount of the information they have learnt during the school year. The exact loss is approximately two months’ worth of reading and mathematical skills, referred to as ‘summer learning loss’ or ‘brain drain.’ The gap in consistent education caused by the summer break may be yearned for by the students – those long summer days with no school are what dreams are made of – but it has an undeniable impact on the abilities of the children to retain the crucial information they learnt in the classroom.
Math loss is the most significant, and it’s easy to see why. Children can still be stimulated intellectually whilst on holiday: reading, museums, trips to the zoo, and other cultural activities will continue to enhance and complement the skills and knowledge learnt at school. However, it’s unlikely that these trips will be contributing to their knowledge of fractions and long division. Math gets neglected, not because it doesn’t exist, but because it’s harder to think of math as existing outside of the classroom.
So what can be done to counteract this?
There are, in fact, lots of ways to create and continue math-learning situations outside of school. They don’t have to be dull, or less engaging than other activities – they can easily be incorporated into the fun experiences that kids have while on holiday:
- Get your kids cooking, and incorporate math into the measuring process
- Point out the math in other activities – watching sport on TV? Talk about players’ statistics and results
- Take the kids shopping and have them help you when you work out change or discounts. It’s a whole new skill to be working out calculations in your head while handling bills, coins and interacting with people—compared to classroom math. See our Farmers Market Blog for details.
- Have a look at the math workbooks from their previous grade and check out what’s coming up when they return to school – giving them a head start will make it much easier when the summer is over.
- Get carried away with your set of Geometiles. Download our free online workbooks for structured learning, or just have kids explore shapes through free play. Visit us on Instagram to see some examples on how you can use it!