Researchers have shown that students, regardless of socio-economic status, lose about 2 months’ worth of grade level math skills over the summer months (Cooper, Duke University, 2000). While reading to your child and going to the library are encouraged, practicing math skills is not. This makes summer programs with a mathematical focus crucial for the maintenance of critical math skills through those relaxing summer months.

Afterschool and summer math programs augment a child’s mathematical understanding and provide extra time and explanation for students struggling with math concepts. Because these programs are outside the prescribed curriculum, they allow students to learn at a more leisurely and individualized pace. The versatility of MANGO Math activities makes them a perfect addition to any afterschool or summer program. Students can grab an activity and work on it by themselves or play a game with peers; instructors can assist individual students or lead group activities. Since all MANGO Math activities are based on common core standards, educators can be confident that the skills the students are learning and reinforcing align well with their school material.

Summer and After School programs are a great time to expand on classroom learning. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education has come to the forefront these past few years. This article in Forbes tells why STEM education is important and explains the steps that need to be taken to encourage students to continue in these fields. STEM education should start at the elementary level with building science- and math-conscious students. In these formative years, it is so important to encourage students to excel in math and to show an interest and curiosity in science. This interest is a major step towards considering an occupation in science, engineering, technology, and related fields. At the foundation of STEM is MATH – and MANGO Math is a great place to start.

Summer learning loss is real – here’s three things you can do this summer to keep your child’s math skills sharp and ready to hit the ground running in the fall:

**Repetition**. Have your student keep those math facts fresh in their mind by playing games that repeat the basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. An easy way to do this is through math games that use manipulatives such as cards, dice or spinners, which provide repetition without the use of stale worksheets. They can roll dice, spin a spinner or draw cards to create randomly generated numbers that they can then add, subtract, multiply or divide. Money is another way to get student to do repetitive math practice. Have them add, subtract, multiply and divide monetary amounts. This will help with algorithms and is also a good introduction or reinforcement of decimals.**Explanation through Exploration**. Provide your students with pattern blocks, tiles, centimeter cubes, graph paper, etc. and let them explore things like area, perimeter, and volume. Students will gain an understanding of the formulas for area, perimeter, rectangles, triangles, trapezoids, and other geometric shapes. Have them work with rulers, yard sticks, and measuring tape to discover inches, feet, centimeters, and millimeters. Explore even and odd numbers by making partners with objects. Children who learn through exploration retain knowledge longer than if they are just given random facts to memorize.**Problem-Solving**. Play games like chess, checkers, Blokus, Mancala or other games that focus on strategy, critical thinking and problem-solving skills by having your child think not only of the first move, but what their next move (and the next!) should be. This should get students to think strategically and deductively. The first time with any game, students are just trying to figure out how to play. The second time through they are starting to think about the rules and it may not be until the third or fourth time through that they start to think strategically and start applying deductive reasoning. Play these fun games repetitively so students can develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills to find success.