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6 ways to sharpen your child's math skills this summer

School has been out for over quite a while and according to National Summer Learning Association, 75 percent of students will experience learning loss, especially in math if they aren't actively maintaining it.

Sesame Workshop has teamed up with the National Summer Learning Association, Scholastic and other education organizations to help arm parents with the tools they need to keep children from falling behind in math this summer.

The program is called “Math Is Everywhere” and is designed for students aged 4 to 12. Here are six of the ways to keep your kids using math everyday without them seeing it as homework.

1. Keep them counting

Playing games with two or more sets of dice is a great way to keep their addition fresh in a fun way. Ask the child how many each roll adds up to before moving along.

Snack time during play dates can also be a great way to get your child counting. Ask your child to count out pretzel sticks, apple slices and cookies to be sure everyone gets an equal portion.

2. Get them baking

“One of the best ways to incorporate math into everyday life is by allowing your child to help you cook,” Michelle Pratt with Connections Academy said. “When cooking, it is important to understand numbers, particularly conversions and fractions.”

“Ask your child to be in charge of adding in the ingredients,” Sarah Marcus at Learner.org said. “Ask questions like, ‘If we only had the half cup scoop how many scoops would we need to get to three cups?’”

You can also double, triple or half a recipe and have your older children tell you the conversion.

3. Start a small business

Kicking your children’s entrepreneur instincts into gear is another great way to keep their math skills sharp. Opening up a lemonade stand or a snack shack requires counting money and keeping track of inventory

“Letting your children run a lemonade stand or be in charge of your next yard sale will help them understand business skills like supply and demand and profits and losses,” Pratt said.

4. Make a budget

Before the next pool or picnic trip, plan a snack budget and take your children shopping and make sure they stick to the snack budget. Or if you visit a baseball game give your child a $10 bill and ask her to get snacks for the whole family that won’t exceed the money given.

Making these budgets and helping your children stick to them not only reinforces what they know about subtraction but also will help them understand the importance of staying on budget and not going into debt.

“Financial literacy has to be taught consistently and from a young age,” Michael Davidson, head of OECD childhood and schools division, said. “And it is not a subject parents can leave to teachers. Responsible decisions have to be made by parents on behalf of their children.”

5. Plant a garden or make a sports court

“Planting a garden of any size requires math,” Pratt said. “You need to calculate the length and width of your garden as well as spacing of your plants using measurements in inches, feet, centimeters, meters, etc. Without accurate measurements, you risk overcrowding your plants and vegetables.”

If gardening isn’t a possibility, you could plan out a badminton court in the backyard or draw a half basketball court on your driveway with sidewalk chalk. Find out proper measurements, get a yardstick and have your child help measure it out. Chances are the preparation will be as fun as the games themselves.

6. Take them shopping

Like planning a budget, shopping requires planning ahead. Shopping is a great math activity for all ages. For the young, there is counting out the produce and cans of soup, for the older kids there is weighing out produce and figuring out the cost of each bundle.

“Whether you’re grocery shopping or shopping for a new outfit,” Pratt said, “it is important to stay within a budget. Have you child keep a running estimated balance and compare it to the balance on your receipt after checkout.”

Shopping sales can also be a great way to practically teach your children percentages. Have your child calculate the price of an item that is 25 percent off and then see how those sales fit into the overall budget.

EMAIL: nshepard@deseretnews.com TWITTER: @NicoleEShepard

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