For Canadian students, the 2020-2021 school year will go down as one of the most challenging and strangest school years ever. A full school year of the COVID-19 pandemic was, for most students, a drastic change to the traditional model of going to school. Waking up in the morning and heading to a class with friends to socialize with became a distant memory, along with many sports teams, dances, field trips, clubs, and recess time with anyone outside of your social bubble. This year, students became accustomed to masking, physical distancing, cohorts, quadmesters, and in some cases, isolation periods where one’s class might have to stay home for weeks. Families that chose the fully virtual model became used to endless days at home, logging on to a learning management system, and raising a virtual hand during class discussions or writing in chat boxes.

virtual learning environment
Endless hours of virtual learning may not have achieved the desired learning outcomes for your child. Source: Unsplash.

Whatever model of learning your child engaged in, it can be certain that math education was likely drastically different than in years past. While we can all say that we are fortunate to have had choice, and even happier to have survived, the time has come to start taking stock of our children’s education, especially in core subjects. When life resumes a semblance of normalcy, we want to make sure our kids’ foundational areas of learning are where they should be for their age and grade level. Math - one of the most important subjects children study - is one area millions of Canadian parents are probably wondering about. Did your child capture all the learning in mathematics? Does your child demonstrate readiness for September? Are they able to perform the mathematical operations and applications they should at their age group? Did your child complete all of their math worksheets and get the practice they needed to make math concepts stick?

Have your kids been affected by virtual learning? Learn our tips for supporting their social and emotional development.

Parents are Concerned about Math

If you are concerned that your child did not fully comprehend math teaching during the pandemic school year, you are not alone. Perhaps you are noticing lower math grades than usual, have received a call from the teacher, or have noticed your child being distracted during class time. Maybe you notice that they are confused when tackling homework tasks, seldom doing math homework at all, or feel that the virtual classroom did not provide enough math enrichment for your child. Whatever your reasoning is, you are certainly not alone this year. As versatile as technology is, the learning environment in a virtual classroom carries many distractions, and the frequent interruptions in learning for students choosing in-person learning will have long-lasting impacts on the way we learn - some beneficial, and other negatives.

Learning online has its advantages and disadvantages, especially in math. Source: Pixabay

As tempting as it may be to call it quits on school for the summer and focus on relaxation, there are real benefits to keep your child thinking about math. Let’s explore some reasons to keep your child learning academically during the break, and the most fun ways to keep your child practicing math over the summer.

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Why Your Kids Should Focus on Summer Learning

Summer programs can feel like a drag for Canadian kids - after all, when else do we have warm weather and plenty of time to enjoy it? Studies show that summer learning loss or “brain drain” is a real thing, with kids losing knowledge and learning skills over the course of vacation. According to studies by Harvard, students lose 2.6 months of math learning over the summer, resulting in the need for re-learning when the school year starts. Since pandemic learning is relatively new, very little research exists to show how much learning kids will lose this summer - though we can probably assume that learning loss may be compounded with the issues that came with a challenging year online.

Math learning in a summer program can help your child practice the numeracy skills they will need to be successful in the new year. Mental computation - using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - is a skill that requires regular practice, and math facts can be hard to remember when we aren’t retrieving them often. A regular study of math, even during the summer, can keep structure in your kids’ lives. While having lots of free time is great, a bit of structure will keep your kids learning skills sharp over the summer.

It’s important to note that summer learning doesn’t have to be about spending hours online or listening to boring math lessons on YouTube. Let’s explore the best ways to keep math learning going for your kids all summer long!

Summer is here and the pandemic school year is over. Find out how to keep your kids learning through outdoor learning.

The Best Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning Math During Summer

Get your kids’ summer math skills learning started right by speaking with your child’s math teacher before summer begins. Your child’s teacher should be able to share with you their observations of your child’s math learning, and any challenges they had during the year.

Math and Coding Camps

Summer school often sounds awful to kids, and it’s not hard to see why. Why on earth would anyone want to do school work during the beautiful summer months? One great solution is a math camp, where an educator leads kids in a variety of math activities that go beyond the curriculum and enrich math learning. While in-person math camps may be tough to find, you can certainly find remote options.

a child learns online from their bedroom
Find a coding camp for your child - coding is included in modern math curricula. Source: Unsplash

Coding camps are another great type of math activity you can enrol your kids in for the summer. Coding has gained popularity over the years as kids are becoming more and more connected to technology, and parents are eager to get their kids learning “real world skills.” Technical skills are among the most coveted in the job markets, so having your kids learn to code at a younger age will serve them well into the future. Coding teaches kids problem solving, analysis and design thinking in a collaborative environment. Coding has also been added to the provincial math curricula of provinces like Ontario, so their summer learning will keep them a step ahead when they move into the new school year.

Offline Practice

Are you tired of watching your child sit on a computer all day? Why not direct your child into some healthy, old-fashioned online math practice? As funny as it sounds, math workbooks can serve as a great source of enrichment and practice for your child. Workbooks like Jump Math and Brain Quest are fun, portable, and easy for kids to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, measurement, geometry, algebra, word problems, providing instructions to solve math in a number of ways. Set daily or weekly goals to complete workbook pages, make it a morning routine, or a way to wind down after a day at sports camp. Bring the books to the cottage or on a road trip for a quick activity, and up the ante by rewarding your child for a job well done!

Math Apps and Games

While it does bring your child back on an electronic device, math apps and games are one of the most fun resources for kids to practice math - so ditch those textbooks! Apps like IXL, Sumdog, Prodigy, Khan Academy, Elmo 1, 2, 3, Sago Mini and ABC Mouse gamify math practice and keep even the most reluctant learner engaged. On math apps, kids are placed on a program that takes them through different math problems and levels, challenging kids gradually as their skills improve. Apps support your child by making them practice numeracy skills and mental math, enabling them to develop automaticity and memorize math facts.

Playing math games can help students enjoy learning more.
Math apps and games can help kids enjoy learning more. Source: Pexels.

The best part of math apps is that kids don’t even realize they are learning, and it boosts their math confidence as they become more successful and win games. Parents and guardians can monitor their child's progress on a dashboard, and check how much they are progressing. Many math apps are even aligned with local provincial curriculum, so your child will learn skills they will encounter in the school year ahead.

Want to keep your child reading and writing over the summer? Read our article on maintaining literacy over the summer.

Finding Real-Life Applications for Your Child

As a daily activity, you can keep your child thinking about math all summer by finding it in your everyday life. Math is all around us, and sometimes it just takes a parent or guardian to point it out to keep math thinking alive. Planning a vacation? Get your kids involved in the budgeting process, from choosing hotels and planning meals. Baking? Ask your child to compare fractions and double recipes to see how they make connections with numbers.

If you have small children, count things all around you, from Lego blocks to stuffies or birds. Show patterns in decorations, or even count while brushing teeth or changing into PJs so they get used to listening to higher numbers. Call out address numbers, make repeating patterns with beads as you string together homemade jewelry, or identify shapes in your backyard or local park.

Find out why summer learning is more important than ever for your child in 2021.

Hire a Summer Math Tutor

Parents that want to take a more focused, structured approach to helping their kids with math can recruit the help of a summer math tutor. A summer math tutor can review the previous year’s content with your child, re-build foundational skills, or explain tricky algorithms. They can use a textbook your child’s school uses, or create a DIY curriculum using a math workbook or resources online. Summer tutoring is a great option for kids who are in summer school and want to be successful, particularly teens who may be trying to get a secondary school credit. Find a good math tutor, discuss your child’s needs, and find a solution that works.

Learn Math with A Math Tutor in Canada. Source: Unsplash

Sites like Superprof have listings for amazing tutors near you, though with the increase in online schooling you can certainly pick a tutor from a different region. Many tutors are educators, math graduates, university students, so your child will be with a tutor that understands math well. Tutors can meet your child virtually, and at a time that doesn’t interfere with your planned vacations and camps. Find a tutor near you on Superprof today!

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Colleen

Colleen is a Toronto-based educator, mom and freelance writer who believes in lifelong learning and strong coffee.