Parents can prevent summer slide, the tendency for children to lose achievement gains, by building curiosity and exploration into their summer plans. To feel successful, children need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills. This is especially true during the summer months. Summer presents a great opportunity for creative and innovative learning activities that are not necessarily covered in school. During summer, children can explore new and exciting concepts while learning at their own pace. With school pressures on hold, summer could be the season your child discovers how fun learning can be!

Summer learning can happen in a multitude of places. Enriching experiences can be found through summer camps, time with family, and trips to museums, parks, and libraries. Here are some simple ways to incorporate summer learning into your everyday environment while you participate in some of these wonderful summer activities.

What Can Parents Do to Support Summer Reading?


Read, read, read! Make sure that everyone in your family has access to books that interest them. Choose books that are at the right reading level for your child. Books should be age appropriate and topics should be interesting to your child. Let children choose at these some books to read. Local libraries are great places to pick up summer reading lists by grade level or topic of interest.

Children should be reading every day. Give them the comics section while you read the rest of the newspaper. Let them choose a cookbook recipe and cook together. Build a night time routine that involves reading aloud. Takes turns reading aloud to improve listening comprehension. Parents may review challenging vocabulary and reread favorite books to promote fluency.

While reading (and singing) together, families can also promote mathematical thinking. Many children's books deal with numbers and counting such as Chicka Chicka 123, Zero and One. Songs like "Five Little Monkeys", "Five Green and Speckled Frogs", and "Five Little Ducks" develop basic counting skills. Repetitive songs like "The Wheels on the Bus", "Old MacDonald", or "BINGO" and repetitive stories like Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See form patterns that develop algebraic thinking.

What Can Parents Do to Support Summer Math Learning?


Math learning grows naturally when children are enthusiastic and curious about their environment. Keep the learning fun and make mathematical learning a part of your family's everyday routines.

Play games with your child. So many games that parents play with their kids promote number sense: board games with spinners or dice, dominoes, number blocks, and cards or puzzles with numbers are but a few. A great way to practice comparing measurements is to create a game. Children find objects around the house, yard, or playground that are "shorter than", "larger than", or "heavier than" a given object.

Baking, sewing, gardening, grocery shopping, and mailing packages all involve measurement as well. Visits to the dentist or doctor are also great times to talk about measurements. Demonstrate how to use a scale to measure weight, a yardstick to measure height, and a thermometer to measure temperature.


Parents can incorporate many different tactile manipulatives to practice algebraic thinking. Grab some coins and group all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Throw a lemonade sale and let children count out change for customers. Colored beads can be used to create complex patterns. Leaves collected on a nature hike work well for sorting by shape, size, or color. Kids also love building three dimensional figures with lego blocks to develop spatial reasoning.

Using sound together with manipulatives really reinforces this pattern learning. Vary the volume of sound with shakers and cymbals (loud-soft-soft, loud-soft-soft) or use different sounds (shake-ring-crash, shake-ring-crash) to create a pattern. Clapping or jumping out patterns is a fun way to burn off energy too.

Traffic signs are a creative way to incorporate geometry while on a drive. Parents can point out signs and say "Hey, check out that yellow sign. What shape is it?" or "We're at a red stop sign. How many sides does it have? Yes, an eight sided shape is called an octagon. Do you see any more stop signs?" The game I Spy encourages shape recognition as well. Children search for objects around the house, yard, or playground that are all of a certain shape. While finding objects, use spatial words to explain position and direction such as “That circle clock is right behind you", "The rectangular book is on the bed”, or “The diamond kite is under the table”.

To develop a mathematical mindset, parents should ask lots of "how" questions related to common situations: How many more place mats do we need around the table? How can we divide these peas equally among the three of you? Estimate how many spoonfuls it will take to finish your bowl of cheerios. Children need to be encouraged to think. Parents can think aloud, model solutions, listen to children’s thoughts, and guide children through problem solving techniques.

Use these simple reading and math tips to build enthusiasm and curiosity into your child's learning this summer. Start the next school year successfully while gaining long lasting confidence and a love of learning along the way. Have a great summer!

Photo Credits:

Adaptation of Summer Reading 5 photo by KOMUnews. Copyright 2009. Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Adaptation of Cause and Effect - OOPS photo by swong95765. Copyright 2014. Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Adaptation of Child Entrepreneur Lemonade Stand photo by Steven Depolo. Copyright 2011. Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Tagged in : Math, Education

New Math Teacher boasts an enthusiastic team of passionate lifelong learners who love to grow that passion in others as well. Our curriculum specialists love to post creative and engaging ideas about STEM education and learning. We welcome helpful feedback and constructive criticism.