I remember the first week of my fifth grade year. I had a math worksheet for homework, and I was completely stumped.
“I don’t remember how to do this stuff, Mom.”
“What do you mean?” she said. “It’s just long division!”
Yep, in three blissful months of summer vacation, I had completely forgotten to long divide. My mother, a teacher herself, was shocked. Brain drain can sneak up on even the pros.
Being ready for school is much more than having a new backpack, plenty of No. 2 pencils and a healthy breakfast. Studies show that during the lazy months of summer, all kids suffer from “brain drain” or the loss of learning. In fact, students lose (on average) 2.6 months of mathematical competency in June, July and August. Wow!
I promise: I will not tell any parents that they should be teaching math over the summer. I’m not big on academically based summer camps (unless kids desperately need remediation or love these kinds of activities). I hate the idea of kids being subjected to flash cards or worksheets when they could be playing at the pool or reading a great book.
But I do believe — whole heartedly — that parents can help slow the loss of mathematic comprehension with some really simple and even fun activities.
And that’s what August is about here at Math for Grownups. We’ll focus on parenting, primarily, but I’m guessing that even non-parents can gain some additional understanding from some of the activities I’ll suggest. (No one should feel left out!) I’ll also hit on a variety of grades and ages — from toddlers to college students. And I hope to bring you some Math at Work Monday interviews that will inspire even the most reluctant math student.
But first, I want to know: What are your questions? What kinds of activities are you looking for? What topics are you having trouble helping your kids with? You ask ’em, and I’ll answer ’em — or at least point you in the right direction (perhaps to my posts at MSN.com’s Mom’s Homeroom).
So let’s start easing back into the school mindset — so September is not a shock to anyone’s system!
I want to hear from you! Ask your questions in the comments section or email me.