Today is the First Day of Summer!


Hooray!  It’s finally the first day of summer – officially.  If your kids aren’t done with classes yet, chances are they will be this week.  Of course your little ones (and maybe you) will want to spend most of the summer having fun, but it’s important not to completely forget about school while you’re enjoying the pool.

Frances Nankin, the Executive Producer of the hit PBS Kids Go cartoon Cyberchase says, “Summer is a time when children are at risk for losing gains in math learning if they are not offered educationally sustaining math activities.”  She suggests incorporating simple and entertaining number games during summer vacation to avoid brain drain.
Are your kids old enough to do household chores or yard work for pay?  Then help them set a financial goal they’d like to achieve by the end of August and make a chart or graph to track their weekly progress.  Nankin says, “Encouraging them to budget an amount for saving as well as spending is another way to engage them with money math.”  Suze Orman would approve.  (You go, girlfriend!)

Summer road trips can also offer plenty of teachable moments.  When your kids whine, “Are we there yet?,” suggest ways for them to estimate how far you’ve gone and how much longer it will take before you arrive at your destination.  When my daughter and I get in the car to go anywhere, she immediately asks, “Wanna play 20 Questions?”  We never limit our questions to 20, but she loves narrowing down her guesses.  Nankin says you can play a similar game while watching America’s favorite passtime.  While at the ballpark, “take turns picking a player’s number and making up clues to see if the other person can figure out who it is. For example: “My player’s number is an even number. It is more than 10, less than 15, and is a multiple of 3.”  12!  It’s 12!  (It’s good to know I’m smarter than a second grader.) 

Keeping kids’ mentally fit doesn’t have to mean losing track of physical goals.  My daughter loves to count as I do laps in the pool.  If your children are a bit older, you can encourage them to bike or hike a certain distance in a given amount of time.  When you find yourself waiting in line for 45 minutes at a theme park this summer, here’s a game that’ll help pass the time.  Player A picks a number between 0 and 10 and says it out loud.  Player B silently picks a secret rule (plus 3, for example, or minus 2), applies the rule to the number, and says the new number out loud.  Keeping that new number in mind, player A says another number, player B silently applies the same rule, and gives player A the new number.  The play continues until player A has enough information to guess the rule.

Either that, or you can count the amount of people throwing up into the trash can after a spin on the Tilt-a-Whirl.  Happy Summer!

Photo: Ed Yourdon via Flickr