How to hone your kid's math skills over the summer holidays

Summer break for kids means no homework or assignments to turn in, but that can put some students at a disadvantage when school picks up again in the fall.

Talks to your kids about math to prevent summer learning loss, Concordia University professor says

One expert recommends parents talking to kids about quantities, ideas in mathematics, space and estimation. (Getty Images)

When school's out for summer it means no homework or assignments — but that can put some students at a disadvantage when fall rolls around.

The best way to prevent summer learning loss is simply to engage children in conversation a little bit every day, according to one Concordia University professor.

Helen Osana, an associate professor of education who specializes in mathematical cognition and instruction, said it's as easy as parents starting discussions about math every single day with their school age children.

"Have conversations with children about quantities, about ideas in mathematics, about space, about estimating things," Osana told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Practice makes perfect

Osana recommends including math in day-to-day activities or conversation, which helps kids to remember their math skills without necessarily having them sit down at a table and do homework.

"I think that mathematics is not something that necessarily has to be hard or painful," Osana said.

Parents don't have to sit their kids down and have them do exercises in order to prevent learning loss. (CBC)

All it takes is about 15 minutes every day and it's more effective than packing knowledge into one long segment, said Osana.

She said this allows kids to enjoy the summer holidays while ensuring they don't forget everything they learned over the last school year.

"The old saying 'practice makes perfect' applies here too," Osana said. "In order to maintain your math skills, you really need to keep it up."

Stick to what they know

Parents don't have to worry about introducing their children to new concepts or teaching them ahead of the curriculum, according to Osana.

She said parents who opt to go above and beyond need to be careful they don't teach their children how to do things in ways which conflict with what the school will teach in the fall.

"It's really more important to talk to children about thinking about mathematics," Osana said.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak