Few things define us more than how we respond to a challenge. There are those who see a problem and let it shut them down. They feel instantly overwhelmed and walk away. On the other hand, there are people who see their strategy isn’t working and quickly adopt a new plan of attack. They work through problems tirelessly until they are solved. As parents we all wonder, “How can I make sure my child is part of the latter group? How do I raise a capable and determined human being?” Believe it or not, one crucial step is to improve your child’s math skills! In fact, experts have found that math is far more powerful than you might realize when it comes to creating a successful foundation for life.
Why math skills matter.
Math is a universal language that we all use on a daily basis. A firm grasp of mathematics is foundational to understanding and existing in the world. I remind my students daily that calculators and phones replace math skills as well as Google Translate can replace a native speaker. Understanding math is far more than simply finding the right answer to a problem in a textbook. Mastering the critical thinking required for mathematics is a priceless skill that will help kids in every area of life.
Children’s math skills represent more than their ability to understand numbers. In fact, research from Tanya Evans at Stanford University has found that kids with strong math skills perform better in a wide range of cognitive tasks from visual attention to decision-making. Math problems set the stage for working through problems of all kinds in a strategic and systematic manner.
Getting kids interested in math.
Educational extracurricular activities like math camps used to be a hard sell for parents and kids alike. Before the explosion of STEM summer camps, many people believed that having a job requiring math was synonymous with plugging away at a mind-numbingly boring career. Luckily those days are far behind us.
Of course, while you can still have a successful career as an accountant or math teacher, that’s not what the majority of kids dream of being when they grow up. Careers in technology, on the other hand, are both lucrative and appealing to teens.
Does your art-loving child dream of working in animation? Pixar will be asking about those linear algebra skills. Want to start the next Google or Facebook? Calculus, algebra, probability, and graph theory are at the core of computer science. How about designing video games? It’s time to dive into game theory, trigonometry, physics, and calculus. Architects are calculus experts while the ever-coveted career as an astronaut depends entirely on having outstanding trigonometry, calculus, and algebra skills. If you want to improve your child’s math skills, the first step is to give them motivation! Show them how powerful and useful math can be.
How to build a foundation of success for kids.
If you’re looking to improve your child’s math skills and are considering math camps or other summer math programs, you’ll need to give your own analytical skills a workout. There are countless strategies for raising smart and successful kids. As a parent, you’ve got to do your homework to figure out what’s best for your children. For better or worse, advice is never in short supply.
You may have heard of Malcolm Gladwell, the renowned Canadian journalist. He is best known for having developed the theory on “10,000 hours of practice” being the magic number. If you want to become an expert on something, anything, you must put in those 10,000 hours. While that is his most oft-repeated piece of advice, his extensive research on success offers other takeaways as well.
In addition to underscoring the value of “putting in the hours” rather than looking for shortcuts to success, Gladwell has found that successful people seize opportunities. The question that begs to be answered there is, how do we find opportunities? As a parent, how can I create opportunities for my child? According to Gladwell, it is our upbringing that creates our opportunities (even more so than IQ!).
For parents, creating opportunities to learn at home and finding summer learning activities are absolutely essential to building kids’ futures. If you’re here, you probably already know that, beyond income or background, parental involvement is the single most important predictor of success. It’s your choices at every stage that mold your child’s future.
Improving your child’s math skills — why starting early is key.
Early education is key, and that is doubly true when it comes to mathematics. Greg Duncan at Northwestern University has stressed that it is imperative to start math education before beginning school. Duncan noted that the “single most important factor in predicting later academic success” is mastery of early math. Even more so than reading skills or behavioral factors, that foundational math readiness is at the core of success.
There are simple ways to improve children’s math skills at home before kindergarten. From grade three onward, it’s essential to look at summer math programs. Finding the best math summer camps for high school students and younger kids can literally change the trajectory or your child’s life.
When it comes to the best ways to improve your child’s math skills, the bottom line is that it’s never too early. At the same time, it’s never too late. As teenagers dive into the more complex topics of high school math, it’s even more important to work to improve your children’s math skills at home and in extracurricular activities.
How do I stop summer learning loss?
If you are serious about helping kids learn outside of school, you know how urgent it is to stop summer learning loss. Did you know that on average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of math education over the course of one summer? According to Harvard, not only are kids not learning during the summer but they are forgetting what they already know. Essentially, that means that we aren’t improving kids’ math skills for six out of 12 months of the year. This is true across socioeconomic boundaries and it’s affecting an incredible number of children.
Why kids fall behind in math.
Why does it feel like such a challenge to improve your child’s math skills? One of the key hurdles is actually the way we view math. A central reason why kids fall behind in math is that parents don’t see the ways that math exists at home. Of course, many of us have a lifelong routine of reading to kids before bed but who is really out there doing math exercises at the end of the day?
If you want to improve children’s math skills at home, it’s important to highlight the ways we use math in daily life. Little exercises go a long way in helping kids learn outside of school. Talk about the measurements for recipes. Involve kids in budgeting and money management tasks. Calculate the length of the different routes you might take driving. There are countless options for every age group and every one offers a life-long skill.
An alternative to sports: competitive math benefits.
Sports in school tends to get a lot of attention and it’s easy to see why. Organizing kids into teams and teaching them to work together creates priceless life skills. Competing and receiving coaching helps young people learn how to strategize while respecting rules. They learn both how to fight for a win as well as how to lose gracefully. They grow their social group as they collaborate with their peers. Of course, it’s not just athletic kids who can get these benefits! Competitive math offers all of the same benefits.
Competitive math is a perfect motivator for kids. It’s a playful and collaborative way to learn, which pushes them to excel at math. As parents, we shouldn’t underestimate the social value as well. Typically there are only a handful of students excelling in math at any given school and that can be isolating. When your child’s peers have different interests, it creates a substantial barrier. It’s vital to connect kids with those who share their passion for math and learning. One of the most powerful aspects of competitive math is that it brings together a group of young people who understand, love, and excel in mathematics. They motivate and inspire each other in a powerful way.
How math camps help students get ahead of the curve.
Even with parents’ best effort, it’s a struggle to seriously improve children’s math skills at home. That’s why summer math programs like math camps are foundational to success. These types of summer learning activities are useful on numerous levels for a range of different students.
First of all, math camps prevent summer learning loss by keeping your kids’ minds active and engaged. If your child is falling behind in math, it’s also prime time to get caught up. The best math summer camps for high school students and younger kids offer small group sizes and personalized attention. This allows math camp teachers to create a customized experience geared toward every child’s unique learning style and needs.
Another core benefit of STEM summer camps is that they allow exceptional students to truly excel. Take the opportunity to improve your child’s math skills when he or she is already strong in math. Providing a stimulating environment that will nourish your child’s interest is key to keeping the passion alive. Math camps will also give your child the chance to meet other kids with similar interests to build relationships that’ll last a lifetime.
Proven benefits of summer math programs.
If you want to improve your child’s math skills, math camps are a fast path to success. The best math summer camps for high school students and those in middle or elementary school are far from your usual classroom environment. Beyond simply teaching kids math concepts, math camps are focused on developing problem-solving skills while enriching analytic thinking and logic skills. Unique educational activities and math competitions nurture a passion for math. Most importantly, summer math programs allow math-focused kids to have fun and make new friends. They create a positive association by developing fond memories of math as a real interest rather than exclusively a subject in school or something to work on alone at home.
Choosing the best math camp for your child.
At Random Math, we are driven by our own passion for learning. We focus on creating a comfortable environment with small class sizes. Everyone at camp knows each other well and shares a range of interests. We encourage curiosity and incentivize participation. We promote co-opetition through engaging games and exciting competitions. More than just acing exams, our objective is to help kids master the art of problem-solving and make logical thinking a habit.
The results at Random Math speak for themselves. We have seen our freshman entering into Precalculus Honors. Without any pre-SAT prep, our math camp students have scored in the top 99% in SAT Math exams. Our math camp alumni are AIME Qualifiers who are on the AMC 10 Distinguished Honor Roll. They are winners at the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament, Math League Elementary, and Math League Middle. They are passionate mathematicians who got inspired and stayed inspired.