Yeah! Summer’s here, so there’s no more math!

Becky and Bob Barnes

ROCKWALL, TX (June 27, 2014) For the last couple of weeks, the happy faces of our students have been a sure sign that summer is here. With the assurance that there is no need for math now, children officially begin the process of forgetting much of what they learned during the previous school year. In fact, a 1995 Harvard study found that children lose an average of 2 ½ months of math knowledge over a summer. That loss of knowledge, coupled with more difficult math concepts, can make the new school year difficult and intimidating for a child.

As a child’s mind begins to slip into “vacation mode,” it is a good time to think about fun ways to keep math skills alive and relevant. So, what can we do to keep math in mind during the summer?

First, use summer activities, including vacations, to help develop problem-solving skills.  When taking a road trip, discuss trip distances, using the scale of a map (the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground.) Have your children calculate the gas mileage and trip time of your vehicle using miles per hour and miles per gallon to help them understand practical math skills. A little reward for their efforts as you travel is always a good incentive as they practice. Working with real world problems will help your child develop an intuitive sense of how practical math can be. Talking about and using math skills daily will help your child develop what is sometimes called “Number Sense.”

A trip to the forest can provide a great opportunity to discuss proportions and a little basic algebra. I recently asked a student how tall a tree was that we could not measure with a ruler or tape measure. This led to a discussion about proportions and the ratio of the child’s height to the child’s shadow length. Using proportions, we were able to figure out the height of the tree based on the length of the tree’s shadow.

A trip to your family’s favorite restaurant provides an excellent opportunity to talk about percents as you help them calculate a tip for the waitress.

Whether collecting seashells or rocks, fishing or skiing, there are countless opportunities to help your child with their math skills this summer. A little regular practice will make the new school year get off to a much better start. And don’t forget the obvious resources like the internet and stores like Half Price Books; they have an abundance of materials to keep minds busy, nimble and ready to begin learning new skills in August.

A free publication called “Math Tips for Parents” is available for those who would like additional resources. Simply email your request to or call 972-722-6000. Have a safe and fun summer, and don’t forget to math it!

Submitted by Blue Ribbon News special contributors Bob and Becky Barnes with Mathnasium Learning Center in Rockwall. Contact them at or visit

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