Northwest NEWS

August 14, 2000


Guest Editorial

Parents, do you remember learning this math fact?
   by Carol H. Rasco, Director, America Reads Challenge
   The distance between Point A and Point B equals the distance between Point B and Point A. Or in the words of Mother Goose:
   "From Wimbleton to Wobbleton is fifteen miles.
   From Wobbleton to Wimbleton is fifteen miles.
   From Wimbleton to Wobbleton, from Wobbleton to Wimbleton,
   From Wimbleton to Wobbleton is fifteen miles."
   Which version so you think your child would recall?
   Certainly the funny one is more memorable. Mother Goose disguises the math in a wonderful poem that introduces the same concept.It's human nature to enjoy learning.
   Kids and adults master new concepts best when learning is creative and hands on. Imagine your child playing "Wimbleton to Wobbleton" with toy trains and a rules and you're picturing a successful math experience.
   Although it's centuries old, Mother Goose's simple lesson can teach us a lot in the summer of 2000.
   That's because summer time is the right time for math and science fun. Opportunities abound, and wise use of the summer months can give your child an advantage when school resumes. Studies show that kids keep their skills sharp when they exercise their brains during school vacation.
   As we adults know, the demand for skills in mathematics and science is growing quickly. To be successful in college and the workplace, today's students must master challenging math and science skills. But it's easy to help your child get ready.
   The first step is to nurture a positive attitude toward math and science. Girls in particular may benefit from extra encouragement. Avoid comments like "Science isn't for everybody" or "I didn't like math either."
   Second, let your child explore the variety of interests that summer study offers. If a special interest develops in butterflies or the speed of a baseball pitch, let the child take the lead. Follow up with library books, Web sites, and outings that feed the child's imagination.
   Third, use summer's relaxed schedule to offer kids the chance to experiment freely. Or as Mother Goose puts it:
   "Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall.
   Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
   All the king's horses and all the king's men
   Couldn't put Humpty together again."
   Kids can guess: what will happen if an egg is dropped on a sidewalk, a pillow, or a lawn? They can test their predictions and determine cause and effect.
   They can experiment: Why can't an egg be put back together again? They can introduce variables: What if the egg is hard-boiled? What if it is covered in bubble wrap? What if the height of the drop is changed?
   As you can see, you don't need special tools to help your kids learn math and science. Simple collections of rocks shells, or bugs enable children to practice counting and to see similarities and patterns.
   Household items like newspapers, laundry, clocks, and plants can become tools for learning.
   Special summer outings such as nature walks or block walks can expand your child's math and science horizons.
   By playing Mother Good and Father Gander, you can guide your children toward a zany, brainy summer.