Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Need to Read (and Review Math) During the Summer - Part 4

لسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Alhamdulillaah. My apologies for the delay in posting the final part of the discussion on the loss of academic skills that students experience over the summer (and how to prevent it). If you have not had the opportunity to read the first three parts of this discussion, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here in'shaa allaah.

Tayyib. In this last post, we will take a look at how to prevent the loss of vital math skills during the summer break.

The first, easiest, and most fun way to prevent summer math skills loss is by providing math games that excite children's interest in math and reinforce critical skills at the same time. Here are a few games that may find their way into the classroom next year, and which you may want to consider introducing to your children this summer in'shaa allaah. 

Game Description From Amazon:
  • Have fun creating equations crossword-style.
  • Includes a laminated playing board, 190 tiles, and 4 racks behind which players hide their tiles.
  • Ages 8 through adult. 2 to 4 players.
  • Great for the family or classroom
  • Easy to learn

Game Description From Amazon:
  • 7 games in one!
  • Identify and match fractions
  • 13 double sided pizzas
  • 3 double-sided spinners

Game Description From Amazon: 

  • Ages 7-Adult, 4-6 players
  • The cards have the equations... the gameboard has the answers. Each card has an addition or subtraction equation.
  • Match a card to it's correct answer on the board, then place your chip there.
  • Groups of numbers are color-coded to help with number recognition.
  • When you have 5 of your chips in a row, you've got a SEQUENCE!

Games such as those above can help children work on math skills with which they struggled during the school year, they can help children review skills that were learned during the school year, and they can help children learn new math concepts which will be encountered in the upcoming school year in'shaa allaah. The fun, non-threatening, and non-academic format of the games may also help reluctant students feel more comfortable working with math.

A second way to prevent the loss of crucial math skills during the summer is by having your child(ren) complete a few math problems each week. Although worksheets may bring back memories of school, it is important that children continue to interact with math during the summer. Here are two sites that have a considerable selection of free printable math worksheets (keep in mind that some of the worksheets on these sites are not Islaamically appropriate and you will need to look closely at the text/pictures/drawings to make sure the worksheets you choose do not contain or depict unislaamic elements/concepts):

A third way to help prevent summer skills loss, in math and in all subject areas, is to have your child attend a summer day camp organized by your masjid or community members, that has an academic focus. If your local masjid does not have events planned for children, ask those in charge if day camps be held once or twice a week in'shaa allaah. If your masjid is able biithnillaah, day camps can be organized that cost very little monetarily but have great benefits academically and socially, for the youth.  Or, you can coordinate and organize such a camp with a few other parents in the community. Here is an example of how a day camp can be structured and run in'shaa allaah:
  1. The day camp can last for 2-3 hours, one or two days a week.
  2. Children bring their own lunches/snacks.
  3. Hold the day camp in a local park that has plenty of benches or in the masjid's all-purpose room (if available).
  4. The masjid/parents/community provide(s) the math board games - either those mentioned above or others that are high-interest for kids and are known to be beneficial (i.e. they teach/reinforce the skills they claim to teach/reinforce).
  5. Children meet in the park on the specified day and at the specified time.
  6. Children are broken into groups of four and are assigned a table with a math game already set up. The children play the math game in a round robin format to ensure that each child plays three games and plays against each other child in his/her group:
Allow children to enjoy themselves while adults are moving around monitoring/supervising the activities. The adults should try to intervene as little as possible and allow the children the time to focus on their games and have fun in'shaa allaah. However, ideally, there should be one adult per table. The adult assigned to each table should be familiar with the game he/she is supervising and should know how to play it (i.e. he/she should know the rules of the game, etc.) so if children have questions, the adult can answer and assist in'shaa allaah. 

*Tip: Consider having the tables arranged by level. Try to make sure that all of the children in each group are at about the same academic/ability level. This will ensure, in'shaa allaah, that all children are challenged but that one child does not outperform every child at the table. If this happens, the activity may cease to be fun and it may also fail to provide a learning experience for all members in the group.

When the children have finished playing their game, they may ask (a supervisor) to be moved to another table with a different game where they will play three other different children.

At the conclusion of the games (i.e. after 2 hours, or whichever time frame you have established) ask the children to clean up their games (with adult supervision, depending on the age group), and invite children to eat their lunches.

In this atmosphere, children have spent a substantial amount of time practicing essential math skills, socializing with other Muslim youth, and enjoying time outdoors in'shaa allaah.

These are just a few suggestions to help prevent summer skills loss in mathematics in'shaa allaah. Do you have any other ideas? What do you do to help your child(ren) practice his/her/their math skills during the summer break? Please share your experiences and ideas so that we may all benefit in'shaa allaah!

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