Yet again the school year has flown by. A few trips back and forth to the school gates and before you know it, your child is moving up a year group.
With all the hard work that goes into school, it is important to take some time to relax over the summer (for both you and your child!).
However, beware of the summer slide.
No, we aren’t talking about a new theme park ride here. We’re talking about the phenomenon of children struggling to retain knowledge over the summer holidays.
This report outlines how teachers often need to re-teach subjects that have already been taught. This can be particularly the case in maths.
So, what can you do to prevent your child forgetting all their hard work?
1) Set goals
‘When school ends for the summer, learning does too.’
Try to avoid this mindset. Regular practice can help to prevent the worst of the summer slide. This can be split into slots over the week so that you can fit it around any activities you have planned.
You don’t have to plaster this aim on the fridge – but do try to stick to a routine, even if it’s a small amount of time. You could start by sharing with your child a goal of 15 minutes of daily practice. This will allow them to keep track of their work themselves, helping their motivation and providing a sense of ownership. You could use our free resources to do this by signing up to our newsletter.
2) Revise key concepts at home
Memory is a funny thing. Our brains can’t remember everything – that would be overwhelming. This blog introduces the concept of cognitive load, explaining how important it for us to actually forget some things. The brain will assume that the only things worth remembering are those that are recalled regularly. Luckily, revising concepts at home helps to cement the knowledge worth remembering.
Recalling concepts in an environment that is different from the one in which the concept was learned helps to build long term memory. This is partly why teachers change where pupils sit and conduct lessons outside. Therefore, revising concepts at home will help to reinforce knowledge learned at school. To get started, you could plan regular revision sessions across the week using the resources that come with our newsletter.
After this has been tried, you could then try asking your child to recall facts out of the blue. This is not to just to put them on the spot – it is based on the premise that memories become even stronger if they are retrieved unexpectedly. The act of struggling forces the brain to work harder, highlighting that ‘this piece of information is worth remembering.’
Once your child has revised the concepts through regular practice, asking them to recall such facts when they least expect it will help to push the concept further into their long term memory. For example, asking your child a question about their times tables when you are on your way to the supermarket will jolt them into thinking about facts they were not expecting to think about. This will help nudge those facts further into their long term memory.
3) Take your child on an educational visit
If you can, using the holidays to highlight that education does not only occur in school will help your child to adopt a healthy attitude to learning. Perhaps you have a local museum nearby? Science museums for example can be particularly fun, and help your child visualise how maths can be applied across several areas of life.
If you are not lucky enough to have a museum nearby, you could be creative in your approach. A quick walk round the park to highlight the angles involved in the play area might be a nice afternoon out as well as helping your child to recall maths facts.
Even quicker, using trips in your car or on the bus to highlight their maths in the wider world will help. For example, you could ask your child to add up the numbers on every blue vehicle you see, keeping a running total.
There is no need for overkill, it is of course ok to take a break. But beware of having too long a break. The summer slide can be particularly steep in maths and the above tips will help you to prevent the worst.
Next week, we will be talking about how you can bring maths to life by taking your child outside. If you’d like to find out more in the meantime, sign up to our newsletter or book our lessons, launching in the Autumn term. You’ll gain access to fun and free resources to keep your child engaged at home.
If you liked this article, we know you’ll love: How to help your child with maths at home