When I think of getting ready for the upcoming school year, memories of being a kid come flooding back. I remember back-to-school shopping for school supplies and picking out the one clothing item we were given a choice on: shoes (I went to a Catholic school). Interestingly, although it was the only variety I could add to my wardrobe, I chose the same brown suede buck shoes for 5 years in a row. I also had the same bowl cut for about the same length of time, by choice (sad but true). I think most kids get excited to pick out their new clothes, backpack, and supplies! There’s also the less exciting task of making sure all of the summer work requirements are complete. I distinctly remember crying over a math packet that I told my parents I’d been chipping away at all summer, and spending the last week of summer going into 6th grade tackling an enormous amount of math that I’d mostly forgotten how to do. We also had reading requirements which I managed to put off until the final days leading up to the start of the school year. Needless to say I was not a very committed young scholar. While getting all of those work requirements done is important, what may be even more important is having your child enter school with confidence in their skills. Over the summer most kids regress in their learning if they don’t practice their basic math and reading skills. Learning regression is not ideal, but it’s also not unusual. Summer is a reprieve for kids and provides much needed freedom and play time. If your kids spent their summer in a similar way that I spent my childhood summers (swimming, sailing, playing in the woods, holding beach Olympic games with my cousins), then they may benefit from a quick brush up before heading back to school. Brushing up on some basic math and reading skills can help your child feel confident and ready for the start of school. Two areas I recommend focusing on for elementary students are sight words and math facts. There are some quick and easy ways to practice these skills and even make them fun. 

Sight Words

For early elementary students, reviewing sight words is important. They make up most of the words kids will see in text. For the most part, sight words can’t be sounded out and need to be memorized. Check out the Dolch Sight Word Lists to see which words your child should be able to recognize based on the school year they completed in the Spring. The link provided also has sight word games to make review more fun and engaging. 

Math Facts

Math facts are easily learned and quickly forgotten! For early elementary students, reviewing Make 10 Facts and Doubles Facts is a good way to prepare for the upcoming school year. For students entering 4th through 6th grade, reviewing multiplication facts is a good area to focus on. Since math facts are learned through memorization, they can be quickly acquired. Luckily, there are plenty of games to play to brush up. Click the link for some ideas or try the two below!

  • Go Fish: Make 10 or Doubles

A “pair” would be two numbers that add up to make 10. The player must ask for the number that would make 10 when added to the card they have. For example, if the player has a 7, they need to ask for a 3 to make 10. Or, a pair can be two of the same numbers (doubles facts). The player must ask for the same number they have, and tell the answer of the two numbers when added.

War: addition, subtraction, or multiplication facts

Each player flips two cards. Add, subtract, or multiply the digits. The goal is to get the largest answer. The winner of each card flip takes all the cards. If you get the same answer, each player should put out 4 cards face down. Then each player chooses two to flip and combine. The player with the largest answer takes all the cards! Stop the game at any time and count up your cards to see who has the most!