With our school holidays only one week away, I want to warn you of the number one thing lost over summer holidays. It’s not the car keys, dad’s temper or mum’s patience. You may be surprised to know that the number one thing lost over summer holidays is a child’s mathematics’ abilities. On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of maths learning over the Christmas holidays!
For many of us holidays and mathematics just don’t seem to mix. Can you imagine filling a lazy day at the beach with fractions or taking a road trip practising long division? The problem is when students come back to school and there is so much catching up to do. Instead of embarking on new learning, teachers have to spend lengthy times revising the past 2.6 months of teaching.
Why does mathematics suffer more than reading? Many parents and children have relegated maths to the classroom and don’t maximise the opportunities to carry the learning over to everyday life. Most children won’t want to study Maths over the holidays but there are five ways to help them have a head start in 2019.
- Highlight the maths in everyday activities. When shopping, help children calculate change or discounts. It’s almost a shame that most shops now list the price per kilogram on their labels as it was an excellent opportunity for children to compare different sizes and work out the best value. Challenge older children to mentally add up the grocery bill in their head and see who is the closest at the checkout. When cooking, try halving or doubling a recipe so younger children can work out quantities. Encourage older children to look into the science of why you don’t automatically double or halve all ingredients for baking and find out what fractions to use.
- Read short maths stories together. We have so much choice from our local libraries, second hand shops and the Lifeline Bookfests. Titles like ‘The Most Epic Book of Maths Ever’ and ‘Maths Games for Clever Kids’ really liven up the subject. You could be really sneaky and purchase a few books like these for under the Christmas tree.
- Play maths games. Don’t limit them to the usual Yahtzee or Monopoly – ask grandma or grandpa to teach the children their favourite card games. Younger children can make the most of Coles marketing by playing ‘shop’ with the mini plastic products. They can assign prices, charge their ‘customers’ and work out how much change to give.
- Become creative. What about a maths countdown to Christmas? Instead of an advent calendar (or as well as) you could have a maths problem of the day to be solved for a small treat. If your children are different ages, create different problems. You could even put a Christmas twist on them!
- Make the most of holiday outings. Going to an art museum? Ask the children to work out how old a painting is by counting back to its year of creation. Visit the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre or the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium for maths and science inspiration. Even a road trip provides opportunities for playing number plate poker or a mobile version of gin rummy.
Show your children how much fun learning can be outside the classroom. You will not only enjoy your holidays more but your child will come back feeling confident and ready to learn.
Mike Curtis, Principal