Q:

Can you give me some activities to bolster my children's math skills this summer? - For Summer Math

A:

From the time one school year ends to when the new one begins, children are actually more likely to have some decline in their math skills than their reading skills. Parents can stop this from happening by encouraging their children to use math frequently in the summer. By this, we don't mean using workbooks and flash cards for daily or weekly drill. Instead, parents should try to find math activities that are more enjoyable to do. Here are some suggestions:

A superb way to help your children learn math concepts or practice skills is through reading to them or having them read books that combine literature and math. The problem is finding the right books for preschoolers and elementary-school children. Dr. Patricia Moyer-Packenham of George Mason University has created a list describing the math that is featured in 100 books, such as "Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream," "Betcha!," "Elevator Magic" and "Gator Pie." It also has the age or grade level for each book. To get this list, visit the "Skill Builders" section under "Resources."

To find innovative math materials to use with your children, visit a learning store or a teacher-supply store, and you will be amazed at the choice of items that you will have. For example, there are board and card games, all kinds of counting devices, clocks, puzzles, magnetic numbers and specialized materials to improve just about every math skill, from adding to fractions to algebra.

Most children enjoy the computer, and it can definitely be used to bolster children's math skills. If your children are in middle school, they will find math challenges on www.figurethis.org. The A+ Math Web site (www.aplusmath.com) has games, flashcards and worksheets, from basic addition to algebra. And at Brain Teasers (www.eduplace.com/math/brain), there are math questions with solving hints for grades 3-8. Please send us your favorite free Web sites so we can share them with our readers.