Okay, you’re just days from summer vacation and the thought of no longer having to sit in a classroom, memorize formulas, and navigate the social boundaries of the lunch room makes you want to run through the streets and emit roaring bellows of liberation and joy. We hear you. You’ve been working hard and you’re ready for a break. And yet, if you’ve read “The ‘I’m Bad At Math’ Myth,” you know that mastering math and other subjects requires thousands of hours of regular study. That’s why students who forego any math practice during the summer lose up to 3 months worth of learning. According to researchers at Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, more than any other academic skill, math skills shrivel from disuse during the summer months, canceling out months of learning during the school year. On average, students lose 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in quantitative ability over the summer. In this post, I present six tips that will help you evade “the slide” without overwhelming your blissful, stress-free summer.
1. Start a leisurely book club with your friends. Go to the beach to discuss John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” or else host a dinner party to banter about Edith Wharton. Make your reading time a social time this summer to maintain a steady stream of at least five hundred words read per day. Write down any words you don’t know and look them up. If you have a smartphone, download a dictionary app. Summertime learning is as fun as you make it so be creative.
2. Adopt a fun yet mentally challenging hobby like chess, Pentago or Go. An abundant amount of research demonstrates that “strategy games” like the aforementioned improve problem-solving skills, spatial ability, and attention span as well as math and reading scores. If that weren’t enough, the sweet, sweet victory of triumphing over your opponent in a strategy game far outweighs the winning rush you get from any other game. Why? Because there’s no luck involved. When you win one of these games, that victory loudly announces your formidable intelligence.
3. Make some vocabulary and computational flash cards. Look these over before you go to sleep, while eating breakfast, or during idle car time. If you just finished trigonometry, make flashcards that review the relationships and properties among sine, cosine and tangent – you’ll need to remember these rules for your next level math class. Spend just a few minutes every day looking your flashcards over. Who knows? Reviewing the past year’s work just may precipitate a major “light-bulb moment.”
4. Go online and check out The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post – any journalistic enterprise – and read a few articles per week to “stay in the know.” Impress your friends, parents, neighbors and crushes with your worldliness. Invite them to discuss current events with you. Trust us – remaining attuned to global events is hands-down cool.
5. Use the MathSP test prep app to do math problems on the go. Whether you’re on the bus, waiting in line at the grocery store or mall, or just enjoying some downtime, open the app and do a few problems to sharpen your mind. Also, like our Facebook page or Twitter page and challenge your peers!
6. Work with MathSP. We’re here to help you fill gaps, build solid foundations, and achieve an intuitive understanding of the topics you’re learning in class. We’re in session 365 days of the year. If you want an extra push this summer, call us. We’re waiting. Athletes don’t stop training during the off-season and neither should you. Setting just an hour aside each day is sufficient to retain all of the hard work you’ve done. Your mind is your greatest asset. So feed it daily.