Summer at its best is all about a change in pace: A reprieve from the over-scheduled weeks of the school year. There is time for kids to go to a pool or the beach, explore the woods, have fun at camp, enjoy stretches of play time with friends, and simply hang out! Wow, to think that they might even have the chance to say “I’m bored!” sounds like music to my ears. It is a wonderful time for kids to read and to continue growing as readers. Likewise, it is an opportune time for children to keep exploring numbers and thinking about math in the world around them.
While reinforcing math skills during the summer, parents must be careful not to do more harm than good by overemphasizing rote drill work. It simply isn’t true that to be good at math means to be fast at computation. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers, scientists and mathematicians have not been fast at arithmetic; however, they became famous for their higher-level thinking skills. Certainly it is important that children learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide efficiently and quickly and that they learn their basic facts without having to figure them out or count them on their fingers, but computational facility is only part of a comprehensive math foundation. Children need time to develop an understanding of mathematical concepts and opportunities to think and reason, to solve problems in a variety of contexts. Instead of sending kids off to do hours of drill work on their own, children can practice their math facts in a variety of interesting contexts and families can play fun games that develop mathematical thinking.
Here are some general goals to keep in mind for your children over the summer: