It takes money to be good at math

It takes money to be good at math

It seems every second person you speak to today has their children hyper scheduled – including (it seems for the majority) private math tuition.  Whether it be to catch up, maintain or get ahead – people are spending a small fortune on tutors.  There can certainly be situations where tutors are required, but in my opinion, elementary aged children going to private tuition for arithmetic is not one of them (unless serious catch up is required).

But marketing experts and parents who believe it, could easily have you believing that if you are not paying for tutoring year round, you are not giving your child every opportunity available.

Then roll on summer vacation from school, if your child isn’t enrolled in a Math or S.T.E.M. camp –  they are just not going to be competitive in their future job market!

This is rubbish & don’t fall for it!

Math and S.T.E.M. camps are amazing  experiences’ – but as a parent, you have to remember that it is the experience you are paying for – and if you can – that is wonderful.  If you can’t send your child to these types of camps, whether it be due to geographical location, scheduling conflicts, financial or any other reason – you are not failing your child.

Companies are playing more and more to Summer Brain Drain, The Summer Slump or the Summer Math Loss.

All of these refer to the loss of academic gains in both reading and mathematics that grade school students experience during their summer vacation from school.
This loss is very real, and when compounded year after year, can contribute to many grade level differences between students who are affected by the loss and those who are not. The average loss for students is 2.6 months of academic gain, with some students experiencing up to 6 months of math loss.

This can seriously hinder their advancement in mathematics in future grades, so we as parents must do everything we can to stop this loss from occurring.  But here is my question ……

Does “doing everything we can” involve spending hundreds of dollars per child for a WEEK long ‘experience’ at camp?

The answer simply is NO! A week of Math or S.T.E.M. camp will be a great experience for your child if you can provide it, but that is one week from eight or ten weeks of vacation.  What do you do for the remainder?

The saying – ‘use it or lose it’ needs to be heeded here.  If your child doesn’t use their math skills, on a daily basis, they will lose those skills.  It’s that simple.  But it MUST be daily.  Not one week out of ten!

How can you as a parent ensure this happens? Think back to when you were a child.  What did you do?  There wasn’t this massive amount of loss (there probably was some).  How did you maintain it, even if you weren’t aware you were doing so?

You ….

1. Played board games
2. Ran a lemonade stand.
3. Created a grocery stand with empty household packages and toy money.
4. You explored your neighborhood.
5. You had to be home by a certain time, so were aware of your location and how long it took to get home from there, and planned accordingly.
6. You read – books, T.V. guides, comics, newspapers etc.

And the list goes on.  But what was the one thing you did not do or have?

You did not have access to on-demand television, computer gaming or constant ‘chat’ contact with your friends.  By encouraging the same environment for your children, you can help them maintain their skills also.

But we do live in a different world today.

For many, this romanticized view of long summer days where children play freely outdoors all the time is gone.  Many times a parent is not the main care giver for their children due to work commitments.  So, if you are in a situation where another person is the main care provider for your child – you need to have very clear expectations of what you want your child to complete – perhaps thirty minutes of specific math daily (not all in one sitting) along with the materials easily at hand.

What math should you organize for your elementary grade child to focus on to maintain their skills?

1. Math facts
2. Word problems.
3. Re-teaching material for addition and subtraction
4. Re-teaching material for multiplication and division
5. Re-teaching material for fractions and decimals.

It is also important to note that when you supply word problems, your child should not only have access to the answers but an entire worked solution for each problem.  It is very frustrating for anyone, child or adult, to know that the answer we get to a problem is incorrect, but not know how or why!

As you can see from the list I have created above – it is relatively uncomplicated to give your child access to what they require in order to maintain their skills.  And when you think about it – what experiences will they get in a camp?  Friendships, project work, being outdoors, free play and math.

How about we step back a little in time.  Offer our children the math materials they need for success and then, let them take back a little autonomy in the other areas of their lives – their friendships, creative thinking, outdoor free play and riding around the neighborhood on their bicycles.

Then if you are financially in a position to pay for a camp and are making the choice not to, perhaps consider a few trips to the zoo, science centers, the theatre, botanical gardens or a train adventure and give your child multiple experiences with you.

To get you off to a running start gathering appropriate math material for your child this summer – I  have created Just The Facts. This is a book of 70 Days of Mixed Math Facts worksheets (with the answers).  One sheet every day for 70 days!  It can’t get much easier than this.  Don’t leave without downloading this resource.


A book containing 70 days of Mixed Math Fact Work sheets, with answers which you can download here.