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Math and Reading Sites that Fight Summer Brain Drain
Summer brain drain, that loss of skills kids experience over the summer, is a real phenomenon. And kids who struggle with reading or math during the school year experience a sharper decline in their skills over the summer than those that are more proficient.
My kids are good students, but I like to make sure that reading and math remain a part of their routines over the summer to keep their skills fresh. When I need some fresh ideas or activities, I often turn to the following websites.
For younger elementary school kids, I really like Starfall. The site has sections that start at learning letters and go through reading comprehension and fluency. There are games, interactive books and videos. There are also activity pages you can print for use offline. In addition to reading, there are writing activities.
In addition to the nuts and bolts of reading, sometimes it's great for kids to hear a really well-read story. At Storyline Online, which was created by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, you'll find readings from SAG members such as Jason Alexander, Betty White, Melissa Gilbert, and James Earl Jones. For each story there are suggested questions to ask your child and/or activities.
The International Reading Association's Read Write Think site for kids K-12 has tons of tips and how-tos for parents. For instance, I found the tip sheet on helping your child choose a book to be really helpful for my son, who's not a big reader. You'll also find online games, activity sheets you can print out, podcasts and projects.
Big Brainz combines the fun of a video game with skill-building for multiplication, division or addition and subtraction in its downloadable Timez Attack educational software for PCs and Macs. Each game begins with a skill pre-assessment and then provides the skills your kids need to practice. The free version includes all of the skills and assessment tools. You can rent or buy additional levels, starting at $25 for one year for multiplication or $9.99 for three months for division. The Addition and Subtraction game is still in beta and doesn't have expansion packs yet.
Head over to Cyberchase for short math games, activities and, of course, Cyberchase videos. You'll find curriculum that covers basic math, geometry, measurement and algebra in the context of real-world problems. If you're not sure of which games are the best for your child, you can check out the "Parents & Teachers" page for assistance.
If a little healthy competition gets your child engaged, Arcademic Skill Builders delivers short head-to-head gaming competitions. Choose from addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, integers, money, algebra, fractions and time. You'll also find non-math games on topics including geography, spelling and word relationships.