Multiple studies over decades confirm the same thing: The summer brain drain is real. Research has shown that students, when tested at the beginning of the academic year, will perform, on average, worse than they did a few months earlier on basically the same material.
In fifth-grade, math is important because students are in their final learning stages before the curriculum switches to algebra and other advanced concepts. Yet, kids at this age can find themselves at a disadvantage if they need several weeks to relearn the concepts they were taught in fourth grade but forgot over the summer. Here are some fifth-grade math study tips to prepare your child for the fall.
Review Math Facts
At the start of fifth grade, your children absolutely must know their math facts—the basic simple addition, subtraction, and multiplication that they had seen on flash cards and worksheets over the past couple years and that can be answered from memory. These math facts form the foundation for many of the more advanced concepts to come. Even kids who are fluent in these operations can benefit from some summer review, but many students, successful and struggling alike, will resist any extra work. Sneak it in by throwing out simple problems to your child to answer while in the car, or by running through multiples and factors of a number (e.g., 8, 16, 24, 32 …) while waiting in a line at the amusement park. These small efforts may not seem like much, but every little bit will help prepare them for fifth-grade math.
Play Math Games
Board games and card games can help keep kids’ skills sharp over the summer, whether they intentionally use math (e.g Yahtzee) or just happen to need math skills (e.g. Monopoly). Classic summer games can be amended to include more math—for example, instead of playing War one card at a time, draw two and multiply to see who wins that hand.
Worksheets, Packets, and Workbooks
The Internet is loaded with math worksheets to download and print. Also, many school districts offer summer math packets online to prepare kids for fifth-grade math; yours might not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t download these files for your own use. Furthermore, there are many commercial math workbooks that specifically target summer retention and learning. The challenge will be convincing your kids to work on math during the summer (especially if they already resist homework during the school year). Encourage them to work in small increments—10 or 15 minutes at a time—and don’t be afraid to occasionally offer incentives (“Do this page of equations and we’ll get frozen yogurt after!”). After the long school year, summer is your children’s time, so be creative in finding ways to work math into that time.
Online Math Programs
Children who shun worksheets and formal tutoring over the summer may be more willing to work on fifth-grade math on a computer or mobile device. Dozens of websites and apps are available that make math more appealing to kids who are in the midst of a fun summer. Furthermore, iPad-based online tutoring programs can provide additional learning to students who need more help in preparing for fifth-grade math; such programs provide extra help without you or your child ever leaving an air-conditioned house or a lawn chair in the backyard.
How much math knowledge does your child lose over the summer?