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Tips for Teens to Avoid 'Summer Math Slide'

Students lose as much as two months of learning over the summer

Jul 6, 2010

DALLAS, July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Backpacks tossed in the closet, books lost under the bed and report cards hanging on the refrigerator can only mean one thing ... summer is here. Students, especially teenagers, want a summer packed with fun experiences. Every teen has a full to-do list for the break, but one thing they should not experience is the academic summer slide.

According to the National Association for Summer Learning, students, on average, lose approximately two months of grade-level math skills during the summer if they do not participate in educational activities. Additional research, provided on the National Association for Summer Learning website, states losses in math are somewhat greater than those in reading, and teachers often spend four to six weeks re-teaching material. Time lost becomes crucial as students enter more demanding math classes in middle and high school.

But teenagers can prevent the summer slide.

"Students do not have to lose the math skills they worked so hard to gain," says Holly Larsson, a math subject matter specialist from Texas Instruments. "Summer is the perfect time for teenagers to focus on remediating or enriching skills, and this does not have to be done in traditional ways."

Learning Outside of School

Students can explore opportunities to practice math in a variety of settings such as math or science related jobs, Larsson recommends. This allows students to stay current on skills throughout the summer while gaining valuable work experience. Students also can attend local educational events.

Other students may want to seek out summer camps that integrate math and science with challenging hands-on activities such as the NASA Robotics Alliance Camp or Camp Kennedy Space Center.

"Activities can range from part-time jobs to volunteer experiences," says Larsson. "Students who passed Algebra I might volunteer to tutor a friend who is retaking the course. Also, if a student did not do well in a math class he or she should consider taking a refresher course over the summer."

Learning at Home

Math skills can be maintained, or even improved, through activities at home. Math-focused websites, such as Illuminations, sponsored by the National Council for Math Teachers, provide practice problems but also include interactive exercises to make math review more like a video game. Students also can experience interactive learning by completing WebQuests, which allow students to explore the Internet and learn to use resources while solving math problems. Students who own graphing calculators, such as the TI-Nspire™ graphing calculator handheld from Texas Instruments, can download projects or games at the Student Zone. They can also practice math skills using TI-Nspire Student Software on their handheld or on their own computer.

Visual learners can watch content-relevant videos available on TeacherTube.com. Even sport-fanatic teens can incorporate math into their summer by finding the statistics of their favorite player or team.

"Teenagers should have freedom to choose their style and method of learning during the summer," Larsson says. "Students need to remain involved in activities they enjoy that also focus on academic growth."

Other Learning Opportunities

Larsson recommends students keep previous math and science tests and take time to review last year's exams before returning to school. If students did not save their tests, many schools post curriculum outlines online, and students can use these as guides for what to review and preview for the fall.  

Parents can help their students get a jump start on this fall by taking time during the summer to become familiar with the materials and technology their teacher will be using in the fall. Many school districts post textbook selections online, and some publishers offer on-line content that can be reviewed before school starts. If a graphing calculator is not specified by a teacher, TI Education Technology provides a guide on its website to help students chose the one that is right for them. Some school districts may specify a scientific calculator for classes, and students can purchase these learning tools and begin reviewing tutorials, exercises and even learning games online.

Parents can take an active role in helping students prevent the academic summer slide by encouraging them to observe and practice math in day-to-day activities, such as:

  • Calculating the volume and weight of water in the city pool, and the rate at which the pool will fill or drain;
  • Creating a summer budget or practice investing in the stock market. Websites such as themint.org and Motley Fool provide financial tips and practice scenarios for teens;
  • Planning the details for the family vacation such as determining the mileage of the trip, estimated time of arrival and amount needed for gas money.

"Summer learning should not be separate from summer fun," says Larsson. "Activities can be enjoyable while still adding educational value to a teenager's summer."

About Texas Instruments

Education Technology, a business of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of tools connecting the classroom experience with real-world applications, helping students and teachers to explore math and science interactively. TI's products and services are tested vigorously against recognized third-party research, which shows that the use of graphing calculators helps improve the mathematical skills of students and their attitudes toward mathematics. For more information, visit www.education.ti.com.

Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) helps customers solve problems and develop new electronics that make the world smarter, healthier, safer, greener and more fun. A global semiconductor company, TI innovates through manufacturing, design and sales operations in more than 30 countries. For more information, visit www.ti.com.

Texas Instruments is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TXN. More information is located on the World Wide Web at www.ti.com.

SOURCE Texas Instruments