While most kids view summertime as an opportunity to think about anything other than school, it's an excellent time to continue your children’s learning in less formal ways. Current research shows that on average, a student will “forget” approximately 20% of what he has mastered in the previous school year.

Below are five strategies to create a fun, enriching summertime educational experience that will give your child the math skills to catch up, or get ahead, before the bell rings this fall:

  • Music: Driving to the park? Sitting around without much to do? Pop in some music that will help the kids learn (and remember!) academic content. Websites such as www.MathRaps.com and www.songsforteaching.com offer music that the entire family can listen to on short or long drives, and that teach everything from the times tables to the number line at the same time.
  • Computer Games: Let’s face it–kids are spending many hours on the Internet these days. So why not give them an opportunity to combine their love of computers and video games with the skills they need to succeed in school? Websites such as www.CoolMath.com and www.MathPlayground.com offer fun, engaging math games for kids (and adults!) of all ages.
  • Math Camps: Summer camps, especially those held at local universities, are offering an increasing number of daily and weekly programs that specialize in making academic content areas fun and engaging for students! A quick Internet search of “Math Camps + (insert your city’s name)” will reveal a multitude of opportunities to consider. Unlike school, the majority of the kids in the camps are overjoyed to be there, thus creating a positive atmosphere in which your child can flourish!
  • Family Fun: Get your kids involved in household activities that require math. Perhaps involve them in the reading recipes/cooking process, which requires a real-world use of fractions. Toss out fun word problems on car trips. Have them estimate in advance what the gas bill will be the next time you fill up (ouch!). With the current gas situation, it’s an excellent opportunity to talk about “bigger issues” like inflation and profits­–all issues ultimately driven by math.
  • Math Journals: Have your children create and maintain a “Math Journal,” in which they record all the ways they use math over the summer. You might even inspire them by listening to my fun song, “Math Is Everywhere!” The journal can be used while away on a vacation, or just around the house. Perhaps consider offering a summertime reward when they reach a certain number of entries. And just imagine the look on the teacher’s face when your child’s first essay of the year is titled, “How I Used Math Over my Summer Break!”

Summertime doesn’t have to be the three months in which your child forgets all about learning. By using the above ideas, it can be a time in which he or she catches up, reviews, or gets a jump on what has been, or will be, taught. In addition, the above ideas can foster a love of learning (even math!), family togetherness, and open up a new world of ideas for kids.