Dear Readers: Each summer we provide activities in a content area that will help your children avoid the summer learning decline. This year's learning activities will feature math skills, which are more likely to decline than any other subject, including reading. At the end of every activity, we'll have a challenging, sometimes silly, math puzzle. You'll be able to find the answer on the OV Parent website, www.ovparent.com.
Summer Math Activity 1: If your children in elementary school and even middle school cannot answer basic fact problems in less than three seconds, some drill is in order. These facts, especially addition and multiplication, must be automatic for children in order for them to handle more advanced math easily. So this is your starting point for a summer of building math skills. Use a search engine to find "math drill activities." Visit several websites with your children and bookmark the most appealing ones. Older children should work on drilling fractions, decimals, percentages, algebra or whatever they need.
Drill, even on the computer, can be boring after a while. Both children with weak basic math skills and those who just need to keep their skills sharp should have fun playing math games. Search online for "math games" and bookmark the ones your children like best. You'll also find suggestions on our website, www.dearteacher.com, under Learning Activities - Math.
Math activities should not be confined to the computer. Games like Monopoly, Dominoes and Twenty-one are great for older children, while much younger children can enjoy Uno, Go Fish and Bingo for number recognition.
Puzzle No. 1: How can you make half of 12 equal to 7?
Question: My son will be a freshman in high school next fall. He has always gotten good grades in math. Unfortunately, he is a terrible test taker and froze up on the math placement test. He has been placed in the lowest or next-to-lowest math class and will not be allowed to take algebra. I don't think this is fair, as he did well in the pre-algebra class. - Mad
Answer: A test score should not be the only factor in deciding who should take algebra. We hope this is not the case at your son's school. Contact his pre-algebra math teacher at once and ask the teacher if your child is truly ready for algebra. If the teacher thinks he is, ask that he or she intercede so your son can take algebra in high school. If you can't contact the teacher, find out if the best time to talk to his high-school counselor about his math placement is now or just before school starts in the fall.
Just resolving the placement issue is not enough. Freezing up on tests is going to cause him trouble. You need to help him reduce stress. Some techniques include: spacing out studying before the test, reading directions carefully, doing the simple questions first to build confidence, skimming the test to figure out how to pace himself and skipping questions he doesn't know. If his anxiety continues, he should ask the school counselor for help.
ANSWER To Puzzle No. 1: How can you make half of 12 equal to 7?
Write 12 as a Roman numeral, and draw a horizontal line through the middle.