Yes I am that kind of mom that believes in summer math. Math is a learned skill not a gift of genetics. It’s like a shark; either you are moving forwards or you die. Ok, you don’t actually die but you start to forget and when September rolls around, you’ve gone backward from where you were in June.
Is it a terrible thing to need review in September? No, but my argument for summer math is that you want your child to feel confident in math so starting the year with sharpened skills that perhaps are ahead of the curve is a good place to be.
I am especially passionate about girls believing that they excel at math. Even if they hate math. I tell my daughters frequently, “You can say that you hate math, but you can’t say that you are bad at math. Because if you think you are bad at math, guess what? We’re doing more math.”
So my kids will work on their math textbooks each summer because I am a workbook kind of person. I like clear goals and covering a complete curriculum. I bribe heavily to get my kids to comply. What seems to work best for us is small frequent rewards with a final large kicker, usually a consumer electronic.
Our weekly reward is $5 to spend on anything in exchange for 3 weeks of math problems. For Daily Word Problems, this is 15 problems. My kids can do 3 weeks in one sitting which is nice for the summer because we do one sitting every three weeks.
Timing is everything. I don’t try to compete during the day. I strike at bedtime, preferably on a Friday or Saturday night when they can sleep in.
“Do you want to go to bed, or work on math?” I ask my kids. “You can stay up an extra half hour if you want to do the math.” What do you know? They all want to pile in my bed to work on math! Funny how that works! But it does work!
For completing their book, I give a big prize. Usually a consumer electronic. Yeah, I know. Pricey. I justify it by calculating the money I save by not hiring a math tutor or paying for math classes. We do the math workbook for the grade they will be entering in the fall.
Do your kids do summer math? What do you do and how do you get your kids to work on academics during the summer?
Best Math Work Books
Heavy Duty Summer Math
My 4th grader will be doing the 5th grade book and my 1st grader has already started on the 2nd grade math book from last summer. Word problems are great for logical reasoning and for translating math concepts from words. There isn’t enough word problem practice in the early elementary school Everyday Math Curriculum when the number operations are just adding and subtracting so these books help give an intuitive feel for math and words.
By 3rd grade, word problems are on the standardized tests with many more math operations and it gets more difficult with kids having to “memorize” terms to translate rather than have an intuitive feel for what the problem is asking.
My oldest has done one practice book each summer and while she hates math, she finds 4 step word problems in 5th and 6th grade to be easy, and even sort of fun.
Daily Word Problems: Student Practice Books
I think this is the best math curriculum around. We use this during the school year to clarify a concept if my kids are confused. I don’t use it for the summer because I like the challenge of word problems which this curriculum is not as strong in though there are a separate word problem workbooks.
For preschool, 1 year before kindergarten. Earlybird Kindergarten 1A and 1B.
For incoming Kindergarten. Earlybird Kindergarten 2A and 2B.
For incoming 1st grade, Primary Mathematics 1A and 1B.
For incoming 2nd grade, Primary Mathematics Textbook 2A and 2B.
For incoming grade 3.
For incoming grade 4. (It says on the book that this is for grade 5, but it correlates to grade 4 at my school).
For incoming grade 5.
My daughter chose this book, Decimals and Percents, to complete this summer which is like a semester’s worth of material. It’s a thin textbook. It pairs with Fractions.
I noticed that there is a new elementary book as well.
There are also math classes like Russian Math, Mathnasium or Kumon that might be in your town. I describe on the ones in my town here.
Math and Science Apps are a great way to focus on one concept. I have math, science, and literacy apps here.
Math Picture Books
I really love using picture books to teach math concepts. Our latest favorite is the Sir Cumference series.
Sir Cumference and Lady Di planned a surprise birthday party for King Arthur, but they didn’t expect so many guests to show up. How many lunches will they need? And with more guests arriving by the minute, what about dinner? Sir Cumference and Lady Di have to figure out a quick way to count the guests to bring order to the party. Sir Cumference and his friends have been entertaining young and old alike for years as they introduce important math concepts with clarity and humor.
Xaxon Yellowbearyd was the fiercest Viking warrior of his time. Now a map to his hidden treasure lies in Radius’s and Per’s hands. Together the cousins must decode the strange numbered grid on the map-and figure out the secret of the Viking’s X and Y axes. As bungling bandits pursue them, Radius and Per use coordinate geometry in their quest for “treasure of the greatest measure”.
In an adventurous title that teaches math skills, such as finding the area and perimeter of a rectangle and a circle, young Per must figure out how to unlock the secrets of the mysterious island of Immeter.
King Arthur has issued a challenge. The first knight to find the sword Edgecalibur will be the next king. Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and their son, Radius, race to help their friend, Vertex, find the sword.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.