Love is patient, love is kind

We’re all at least somewhat familiar with the popular poem from the bible that is often read at weddings.

It’s interesting that the very first descriptive word of love is patience. Hmmmm, must be that it’s a pretty important aspect to love.

What do we need patience for?

I know no one actually has to ask that! 

We all come as a mixed bag of good stuff and not so good stuff. You have to take the not so good stuff along with the good stuff, or else you’ll be very lonely.

Yes, it’s true people can change. But the ONLY person YOU can change is YOU. So you need to get used to that not-so-good stuff in your friend. And maybe have a little compassion for what they have to put up with in you – to help motivate you to work on something you know irritates your friend.

Is patience a muscle?

In January we showed the kids a Class Dojo video which teaches a growth mindset. It’s really important to understand that we all can grow and changed and that who we are is not FIXED. 

In the video they had the brain doing exercises to get stronger in math.

But we can think of everything we want to improve as a “muscle” that can be exercised.

How to exercise patience?

The next time you’re late and stuck in traffic, think “this is a perfect opportunity to exercise my patience muscle.”  Ok, that may be like jumping straight to world champion muscle building.

How about the next time you’re waiting in the grocery line behind someone who’s having trouble searching for all the loose coins in her large tote bag?

Or when your child is all excited about something that he is desperately trying to tell you about, but having a hard time spitting the words out. Breathe, give him time to collect his thoughts (and exercise his own patience muscle) without jumping in and forming the words for him.

Every problem is an opportunity

That’s one of the mottoes that Sam Lariosa, our mentor in Michigan, lives by. Every problem is an opportunity.

In this case, every time you naturally would go to losing patience, is an opportunity to build your patience “muscle”. Take advantage of it, develop it, and it will impact everyone around you.

Kids learn from their primary teacher – YOU. And they learn more from what you DO and how you ACT, than what you say.

So as you’re strengthening your patience muscle, they’ll be watching and learning as well.

One more note

If you want to help your child develop patience, give them opportunities to exercise their patience muscles.

Intentionally providing opportunities to wait for things is an act of love to a child.  We need to learn patience and self-control at an early age. Start small, and they’ll learn.

For a short article on teaching kids patience, click here.

Take advantage of Warrior Week! It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss

What’s so special about Warrior Week?

Hopefully people enjoy coming out and gathering with greater numbers than they normally do, whether it’s to watch a grading, attend a shiai (tournament), or enjoying all the delicious food there always is at our potlucks!

But Warrior Week can be a unique opportunity to learn some life lessons.

Be prepared

Being invited to grade offers a lesson in planning and preparing: bringing in the required paperwork, completing required written tests and character sheets. As your children get older you can begin to shift the responsibility over to them.

(We apologize for the delay in some grading invitations going out this time.  Thank you weather! We’ll allow extra time to get your paperwork in.)

Shiai (for us, it means friendly tournament!)

The shiai are an important opportunity you don’t want to miss. Watch your son or daughter carefully to see if they are behaving up to your expectations and if any emotions are coming up during the tournament. How do they handle winning? How do they handle losing? Did something seem unfair to them? The drive home will be a wonderful opportunity to address all of these things. Many critical life lessons or skills have only rare opportunities to develop or address. The shiai during Warrior Week might be one such time.

If you are an adult karate-ka — this is an opportunity for YOU, too! Notice what comes up, what feelings arise. Maybe you’ve never been to a shiai and you’re nervous about going. Why? What’s that about? Push yourself! Broaden your experience! Maybe the opposite is true. You can’t wait to go and kick butt! Really? Examine that!

Let’s eat together!

We want to encourage everyone to come to the potluck on Saturday. It’s always a great time to socialize, have the kids “on stage” (developing courage!), as well as learn new things about karate, our specific style, or some other topic we feel is important to share with you.

All students are asked to wear their gi to the potluck (pants and a t-shirt during lunch, adding the gi top and belt after eating), as we will have the classes do demonstrations after we eat.

Looking forward to a great week next week!

 

 

 

Happy 2019! January – the perfect time to create new habits!

This New Year what better habit to create than the habit of helping others!

Many people use the first of the year to set new goals and take those first steps towards self-improvement.  We are going to use the beginning of 2019 to do the same here at Warriors of Grace.

Parents – what is your goal for January?

Parents of our karate students are welcome to attend adult karate classes for free for the month of January. (New students only.) This is your opportunity to see if karate is a good match for meeting your goals – whether you want to get fit, develop discipline, learn something new to challenge your brain, or just have some fun in a new community of friends!

Our January Challenge for our students:

But what do we REALLY want to help our students here develop? Yes, we do talk about gratitude quite a lot, but we also try to get our students to think of OTHERS. Looking outward is essential to human growth. We stop growing if we remain self-focused.

So this month we are going to set a challenge for all our students. We are setting a goal, which if anyone remembers from last year is SMART.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Time bound

Every day for the month of January, we are asking every student to

DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE!

            

Specific:

From something as simple as offering to carry something, to as big as volunteering at a homeless shelter, we want you to be aware of your surroundings, be aware of who is around you, and notice when there is something you can do for someone else. Then do it!

Measurable:

We will be handing out sheets to be able to record what you do, for whom, and when. 

Attainable:

The goal will be to do something for someone else at least 20 times during the month of January.  The more, the better, as that will help to make it a habit! Finding small things to do for others shouldn’t be a burden, and once you realize how easy it is, it might even become fun to look for how you can help someone! The 20 times doesn’t have to be on different days – so even if you don’t read this and get started late, it will still be attainable!

Relevant:

Taking the focus off ourselves and onto others does require practice. This will help us become more aware of what others may need and how we can help.

Time-bound:

We have set this goal for the month of January – but hopefully many of our students will create the habit of looking for ways to help others. We will ask you to track your progress on sheets that will be handed out. (You can start recording now the date, who was helped and what was done for them.) All those who successfully meet the challenge, please bring in the completed sheet after January is over!

 

Leading others on purpose, with purpose

Leadership Institute 3.0: On Purpose and With Purpose – Open to all Juniors, Teens, & Adults, including parents of karate students!

Leadership is a tough subject. Sure, we talk about it in school, in our workplaces, in our places of worship, in our hobbies, and sometimes even in our homes. But what is it, really? Even the experts don’t agree. Some will tell you that leadership is an ability you’re born with (or without). Others might say that leadership is a skill — something you can develop with study and practice, just like karate. Still others might say that leadership is a calling: a mission (or a burden) that you choose to take on in order to serve others better.

They are all right. And all a little bit wrong.

The truth of the matter is simple: at some point, somewhere, you will be put in a position where you will lead. Regardless of whether you’re born with a talent for it, study the skills, or take on the calling, it’s going to happen. In fact, in some part of your life, you’re probably doing it right now. As crazy as it sounds, you can lead without ever knowing it. The secret that separates great leaders from bad, and even mediocre ones, is that they take the time to understand themselves and others, leading with responsibility and intention. They lead — and you can lead — on purpose and with purpose.

Juniors, Teens, Adult Students, and Parents: please join us on Wednesday, January 9th, from 7 – 8 pm for the first in a new offering in the Warriors of Grace Karate Leadership Institute: On Purpose and With Purpose, with facilitator/instructor Kennon Bauman.

Kennon Bauman is a trained facilitator who works for the Federal government, with nearly 15 years of experience as a civilian mission leader and manager for the U.S. Department of Defense. Mr. Bauman studied Political Science, History, and Civic Leadership as a part of the W.O. Farber Center at the University of South Dakota, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Leadership and Management at the National Intelligence University in Bethesda, MD.

Please let us know you plan on joining us, and we will ask for feedback regarding frequency of sessions. However, if you haven’t let us know you’ll be coming — please join us anyway on January 9th!

Karate makes us strong inside and out

We spent the last month focusing on strength during our mat chats. Karate makes us strong inside and out.

As school got under way we encouraged all of our students to

START STRONG!

We let them know that it is up to THEM to make this school year the BEST YEAR EVER!

And the easiest way to start strong? With a good attitude!

They can make a good impression right from the beginning! (Just SMILING is HUGE!) And it is up to THEM to be READY to learn and to do their BEST.

We told them: The world and everything in it is changing so fast that it’s really important to be a good LEARNER! You will be learning throughout your whole life.

Our dojo kun ends with: “I’m on a quest to be my best!” That means giving 100% at school.

The best way to do that is to get excited about school and make the DECISION to start strong.

When you go in with a positive attitude, the odds are very high that not only will you end up doing well but you’ll also enjoy it!

Everything we do in karate makes us stronger. But what’s most important is developing

strength on the inside.

It also matters what you USE your STRENGTH for.

Just like you don’t want to use your physical, outer strength to break a kitchen chair even if you could — you also don’t want to use your inner strength for the WRONG reasons.

We have a “knower” inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong.

It’s usually a whole lot easier to just ignore that voice.

Sometimes that “knower” nudges us and points us to do something that we don’t want to do.

It’s definitely a whole lot easier to just ignore that nudge.

We need to use our inner strength to change course — to stop doing what we know is wrong. Or to DO something that we know we OUGHT to do but just don’t feel like it.

THAT’S what developing inner strength is all about — being able to follow how our inner “knower” directs us, instead of just ignoring it.

Anyone can exercise and develop outer strength – that’s fairly easy to do.

But inner strength is a lot harder and takes focused effort to develop.

We talked about listening to our inner voice to help us do the right thing.

There are several ways to help us

hear that inner voice.

Here are two ways:

One way is to just SLOW down and be QUIET. Our culture can reward staying busy. It can be hard to just stop and listen. It’s not just being quiet (we can be quiet when we are distracted by something around us or focused on a game). But we want to be quiet and LISTEN to what’s going on inside of us. Taking a deep breath can help us stop and do just that.

Sometimes we just need to stop and listen to what someone is telling us. In our busy-ness we can block out other people, like mom or dad, or a teacher, who could really help us.

The second way to help us hear our inner voice, is to know WHO we are.

By that I mean, what kind of person you are – what your values are – what’s important to you.

Who are the most important people in your life? What’s most important to you? Those people and those things, help to define us, help to shape who we are.

Your mom and dad are really important: they are playing a large role in shaping who you are. When you are having a hard time knowing what is the right thing to do in a situation, knowing that can help. You can ask yourself “what would mom or dad think is the right thing to do?”

When we know who we are, and who is shaping us, we can answer the question “what’s the right thing to do?” without asking anyone. We just need to be still, and listen to our inner voice.

 

Another word for

character 

is inner strength.

When you’re physically weak, it might mean you can’t do the things you want to do.

When we talk about character we’re talking about the inside. To be strong in your character means you’ve adopted good positive character traits.

But saying you think honesty and kindness, for example, are good character traits isn’t enough.

You need to be strong to be able to live up to what you know is right.

Our character is judged by what we do when no one is looking. With no fear of getting caught, how do we behave?

That’s where we have to develop strength.

It takes strength to be honest even when no one would ever know if we lied.

It takes strength to be kind even when we don’t feel like it and no one that matters to us is around to see.

Training in karate helps us be strong – inside AND out.

Ready to test your mettle? Announcing the Warriors of Grace Tournament Team!

Some students have expressed interest in attending tournaments outside of Warriors of Grace Karate. We will begin with Juniors and Adults. If there is enough interest, in the future we may add Tigers, but for now we will start with the older students in the school.

We hold our in-house tournaments every Warrior Week, and encourage EVERY student to attend their age appropriate shiai (tournament). There are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned when you compete with others. Pushing yourself, learning what you need to work harder on, seeing if what you’ve been working on holds up against an opponent, and seeing where you are headed in the future if you stay on your karate path are all benefits of our in house tournaments. Character traits also come to the surface during competitions. Are we good losers? Good winners? How do we react when something is unfair? How do we treat our opponents?

Well, when you travel to an outside tournament ALL of these things are experienced to an even greater degree. The competition more than likely will be stiff, as it will be with others who specifically train for tournaments.

At Warriors of Grace, we are focused primarily on self-defense. Tournament sparring is quite different from self-defense. Let me take that back — we are focused primarily on character. And tournaments will be an opportunity to grow in character, as all of those buttons that can be pressed in our in-house shiai, will certainly be pressed as we travel to outside tournaments.

Many tournaments will gear toward those teams and schools that have been participating in the tournament for a long time. As a new school, from a different martial art style, begins competing in local tournaments, it may take a while to get established. So it may feel very unfair until Warriors of Grace becomes established as tournament participants. 

Tournaments have competitions in kata, sparring and bunkai.

Every member of the tournament team will be REQUIRED to attend additional training in order to be prepared for tournaments. 

The training will be the first and third Saturday of every month. The training will take place from 12:30 to 2:00.

The first tournament training session will take place on Saturday, Nov 3.

Please let us know if you are interested in joining the tournament team. You can let Senpai Noelle know, or Sensei Tony, or Carol if you are interested.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Sensei Tony.

 

Karate is Continuously Building Courage

I just found this post in drafts!! Ooops….that makes it even later than it was back in mid-September when I wrote this!

9/16/18: I’ve gotten behind on posting our mat chats to the blog. We finished up COURAGE a while ago, but really, it never ends!

For some children just walking in the door takes courage, while others need to be partnered with someone twice their size to feel nervous. 

We have to feel afraid if we are to develop courage. Contrary to some children’s beliefs, courage is not the absense of fear, it is rather the ability to push on and do the right thing regardless of fear.

Warriors of Grace Karate provides a safe environment in which children (and adults) can be introduced to fear.

No, we don’t intentionally cause fear on the karate floor. Fortunately, we don’t have to. We humans are pretty good at coming up with fears and anxieties all on our own. 

Every new experience comes with the potential for feelings of nervousness. When on a self-defense journey, the new experiences come frequently. 

What we don’t do, is allow fear or nerves or anxiety to stop a student from learning and growing. In effect, we make them push through. We help them to develop courage.

Image result for images for courage

How did we talk with the kids about courage?

Here was the first mat chat:

Let’s start with what courage IS — it is doing the right thing

Regardless if you are afraid to do the right thing

Regardless if you don’t feel like doing the right thing

Regardless of whether you WANT to do the right thing.

We might think courage has to do with not being afraid

But it’s not — it’s doing the right thing ANYWAY

Whether you’re afraid or lazy or just plain don’t feel like it!

You might think it takes courage to do something dangerous (something that might be stupid!)

But we don’t care at all about developing the ability to go against everything inside of you that is telling you NO —  that’s not courage, that’s just letting our enemy getting us to do something we know isn’t right.

Doing the RIGHT THING — THAT takes courage! It’s not going to come naturally or easily, it’s something that has to be worked on  – with effort. That’s the kind of courage we’re going to be talking about for the next month.

 

Respect? Patience? What IS it with these things you’re trying to teach me!?

Yes all character traits like respect and patience, are so important, and are more easily “caught” than “taught”.

What IS it with all these character traits? Why are we trying to instill these things into you and your children?

The primary purpose of martial arts training

The truth is that when you’re also teaching a very effective self-defense system, you MUST be instilling good character at the same time. Why? 

What does it mean to you when you read or hear “very effective self-defense system”?  What might it take to allow you to walk away from an encounter with a really bad guy intent on doing you or your loved one harm?  That’s right, it doesn’t take long before you realize we are teaching how to hurt someone enough to get them to stop their attack on you. Yes, we learn some pretty nasty things to disrupt your opponent and get them to release you.

We don’t want to be teaching these things to just anyone. We need to make sure these techniques will be used strictly for self-defense and for nothing else.

So yes, respect, patience, self-control, self-discipline, generosity, humility, there are all the PRIMARY goals for any martial artist.

Current focus on patience

We have been focusing on patience. This is tied to a number of other traits: self-control, humility, generosity. 

It’s almost that patience is a gift we give to others. It helps us to treat others well. But it is also very important for our own life.

Parents, here is a super post about developing patience in your children. I really encourage you to take a look.

Can I be patient with myself?

Here’s the mat chat we began the Patience series with:

We’re starting a new theme this week: PATIENCE

I don’t know about you, but after we’ve been talking about being quick to listen and slow to speak, I became aware of myself doing exactly the opposite.  

Awareness is the first step to change. You can’t change something  — or, you can’t improve in an area — that you don’t know needs changing!

If you want to improve in any area, whether it’s in karate, or how you treat people, there are three little words that will help:

NOTICE — DECIDE — ACT

NOTICE — This means first you have to see that there is something wrong. Whether that’s an incorrect stance, or someone who is sitting alone and could use a friend!

DECIDE — You have to DECIDE to make the correction, or do the right thing. Many times we might see something that needs to be done, but we just look the other way and think “someone else will do it”.

ACT — Finally, we have to act. Being aware of something that’s wrong, and deciding to do something about it isn’t enough. We need to follow through and actually DO what  needs to be done — whether that’s practicing our karate, or going up and saying hi to make a new friend.

What does any of this have to do with patience?

We really do want you to practice this : NOTICE — DECIDE — ACT

But will  you forget and have to start again? Will you make some effort that doesn’t end up well? Of course! That’s when you need to have patience! You’re not going to make any big changes right away. The best changes are those that stick and become lifelong habits — and that takes time and patience and the ability to keep trying, over and over again.

When Patience isn’t enough

When we’re struggling to learn something new, or to develop a new habit, we surely need patience with ourselves. 

Sometimes life hands us something we really didn’t see coming. Patience may help us to deal with the unexpected or unforeseen. It might even lead to acceptance of our new situation in life.

But how do we move from acceptance to happiness in light of dreams that won’t come true?

Sometimes we just need to set a new dream. 

There are times in life when what we dream of just simply has no way of happening. That’s when it’s time to make a new dream, to set a new goal. 

NOTICE when your dreams for your life are no longer possible.

DECIDE on what new dream you can set your sights on instead.

ACT on that decision and move towards your new dream. Get started today!

 

Our Words Are Very Powerful

We have been focusing on RESPECT for the last month. While respect covers many things, we have honed in on the importance of the words we use!

What is respect?

We started the month out by asking the kids  to define respect. You might want to ask them and see if anything “stuck”!

We asked “What does it mean to respect someone?” (We steered them to “it means you think something good about them and that they are important to you.”)

We asked “Should we respect everyone?” (Hopefully that gets a resounding YES!)

And finally we asked “How do we show respect?”

If you have this conversation and your mind goes blank, think: using please and thank you; not doing or saying anything to hurt them; following directions right away; doing what is asked with a  good attitude :-)! These are all ways we show respect.

What’s the most important way we respect the karate school?

Ok, trick question. I bet you answered “by taking care of it!” And you’d be right. Which goes to show it can be tricky to ask a question with an answer in mind!

What’s the first thing we do when we enter the dojo?

Now you have it! Yes, we bow in. For Okinawans, that is how they show respect. 

So we talked with the kids about how habits can help us keep a positive mindset – in this case, every time we bow in, we remember how important our school and everyone in it is. We are reminded to be ready to learn and try our best.

We also started them on the habit of thanking their parents (or whoever brought them) for taking them to karate class. We didn’t focus it on enough to create a habit — maybe you can remind them!

How do we respect our bodies?

One week we focused on taking care of ourselves AND others by keeping our bodies clean! Yup, this time of year we always seem to need a reminder that our hot stinky bodies need to be washed regularly!

Our words are very powerful!

We ended up in the same place we started: in order to show respect to people, we need to make sure we don’t harm them with anything we do or SAY.

It’s important for us to recognize how powerful our words are. They can lift and encourage, or tear down and destroy. We’ve all been on the receiving end of words that have stayed with us a very long time. 

Words are funny in that they can’t be taken back. Even after apologizing, you can’t unhear the words. 

They are also funny in that words have different impacts on us. Negative words are very heavy, sticky and take many more positive words to begin to undo damage.

That’s why we need to be so careful about what we say.

QUICK to listen, ssllooww to speak!

Have you ever been “listening” to someone while you’re thinking about what you’re going to tell them? You’re so focused on what you’re going to say next that you really don’t hear a word the other person is saying?

That’s how we get into trouble and say things we wish we hadn’t! 

That’s not respecting ourselves and it’s not respecting others. We are missing out on what the other is saying — it could be really important! — and we’re not giving the other person the benefit of listening to what they have to say,

But when we really LISTEN to others, and really try to understand what they’re telling us, not just waiting for a pause so we can say what we’re thinking about while they’re talking — then we’re REALLY respecting ourselves and others.

Try this week so be QUICK to LISTEN and sssllllooowww to speak. See if there isn’t a change in your interactions with others.

Especially for Little Ninjas and Golden Dragons:

It’s really hard to talk about respect with the little ones. It’s easier to require them to ACT respectfully, and they understand that their are rules and they’re learning to follow them.

Respect is easier “caught” than “taught” so that’s why we have all the structure and codes of behavior for karate class. 

We did share the story of The Mouse and the Lion.  When the mouse showed the great lion a huge amount of respect, it softened the lion and the mouse was let go. 

Indeed, the recipient of respect again had the opportunity to respect the lion by chewing through a net that had trapped the lion! 

Respect and gratitude are cornerstones to a happy life!

 

Summer Fun Includes Summer Learning!

Never stop learning!

Summer is about to start!  Are you ready?  We know that family time and vacations are a huge part of summer and rightfully so.

However, should the learning process stop just because it’s summer? We say NO, and we’re here to help. Let us be the bad guys to help keep your kids sharp and ready for school when it starts back up.

I think we all know that successful people never stop learning.  Successful people are constantly looking for ways to improve and to just work smarter, not harder. How do they do this? They never stop learning!

If a child struggles at reading, math or any other thing they do in school they will probably not like school. If they struggle with school, they will probably struggle with life. So, the love of learning is huge.

Summer Learning Program

This summer the “Summer Learning Program” returns for our students. In the past we have not made this program mandatory but we feel that the learning process is so important for kids that this year we are making it mandatory. We want them to continue their progress that they made throughout the school year. We feel that this will give your kids a leg up if they just do a few simple things this summer.

Now here is the key, they DO NOT have to love learning (not at the start).  They just need to DO IT!  Like most things in life starting something new or something you are not good at yet is hard. This is where you come in. If your child already loves learning, you have it made. If your child does not absolutely love learning, then we have some work to do.

We don’t want them to study for hours on end but we do want to keep them using their brains and always thinking about learning. You can bet many kids will be moaning and groaning about doing some of this but you have the option to tell them, “Well, Sensei wants you to do this so let’s get going”. Create the culture that learning never stops, not ever!

In the past we have focused on reading over the summer and our parents have found this program to be very valuable. While reading is huge for your children, there is more to learning and this summer we want to add in some math learning skills.

How to be successful with Summer Learning this year

All athletes know that their biggest gains and improvements are made in the off season, the same rule applies to kids when it comes to learning. I think you will like some of the improvements we have made and added to the program this year. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you and your child excel:

  1.  This program is mandatory.  Everyone is expected to participate but like everything else in life – you get what you put into it!  Here is a suggestion – start out strong.  Get excited about this program and send the signal to your child that this is important TO YOU.  Now it is up to you how much they do but just make sure that they do something every day!
  2. Learn every day.  This may seem hard to some but it really is not.  Here is the key – just make it a small habit and use a good trigger.  For example, pick something you do every day that has some quiet time before or after.  Right after dinner at home.  Or, right before bedtime.  Or, first thing in the morning while everyone is cuddling in Mom’s bed.  And, don’t worry about how much learning they do just do a little every day. Reading can easily be done every day. The math application problems can be a fun addition to any day! Games are great for learning basic math skills, and many games are great for learning strategy.
  3. Keep it fun.  Take advantage of the fact that during the school year they often need to learn things that are not all that thrilling.  During the summer, they can read what they like and do math in creative ways.  So don’t worry if they read books, magazines or comic books. Counting change, telling time, how many cheerios are floating in their cereal, etc. Let them have fun.
  4. Make books and math exercises accessible.  Have books around the house.  Have books in the car.  Always have books with you.  Have books that you read too. When shopping, help kids calculate change or discounts. When watching a baseball game, talk about what players’ statistics mean. When cooking, try halving or doubling a recipe, and assist kids in figuring out the new proportions.
  5. Don’t  underestimate the power of choice.  Kids will read books they like.  Help your child find their interest.  Building their interest can help even reluctant and struggling learners. Find those things that you know they like and use them to your advantage.
  6. Make learning a family culture.  This last one is probably the most powerful.  To make this stick and have the whole family benefit – make learning a family culture.  Kids learn by example.  They best way to motivate your child to read is to read yourself!  Start by saying this all the time – “Our family loves to read – we read every day!”  Then turn off the TV and video games and have daily family reading time.  Another tip is to have Mom or Dad read to everyone or have older siblings read to their younger siblings. You can do the same thing with math.

How to add in math?

Board games and card games can be a great, easy way to practice math skills. GAMES are the natural go-to for having fun while developing math skills, but here are some other ideas and things to do with your children:

A Cold One

A lemonade stand is a classic summertime activity for kids, and math is needed to keep it up and running. Younger kids can work on measuring and money-counting by mixing the lemonade and making change for customers. Older kids can be in charge of setting the price by determining the cost per serving and setting a profit margin.

Sports Spectator

The next time you take your child to a baseball game, add in a few math games while you cheer your favorite team.
Have your child play umpire and ask her to keep count of each batter’s balls and strikes. Additionally, she can keep track of the outs every inning, and how many innings are left before the game is over. Ask her questions, such as which inning marks the halfway point in the game, and how many runs the losing team needs to catch up.
If a player on one of the teams is close to breaking a home run record, have your child figure out how many more home runs he needs to meet and break the record.

Kitchen Fun

If you’ve got a sous chef on your hands, there is no better place than the kitchen to turn cooking and baking into a math lesson. Give your younger child tasks like sorting ingredients or counting how many eggs you need for a certain recipe. Older kids can work on number recognition and fractions by helping to measure ingredients, turning the oven to the correct temperature (with adult supervision), and dividing up the servings.

Grow Interest in Numbers

Avid gardeners know a little something about math, like how far apart your vegetable rows need to be or how deep a seed needs to be planted. The next time you’re sowing some seeds, ask your child to help. When harvest time rolls around, he’ll be proud to show off the fruits of his labor. Gardening as a family is a great way to spend time together, learn about nature, and eat nutritiously. The math part is a bonus.

Mall Math

Math problems abound at the mall, and many stores have summertime sales. The next time your teen’s favorite store is having a sale, take him shopping. Ask him how much he will be saving on a certain sale item. If a $25 item is 20 percent off, how much does it cost?

You can mix and match different prices and discounts, add several sale items together, and have your teen create an outfit from a pre-set budget. He might be surprised to see how much percentages, fractions, and decimals matter to one of his favorite pastimes.

Errand Arithmetic

The next time you take your child with you while you run errands, turn it into a learning activity. Calculating time and mileage is a fun way for your child to pass the time in the car. For example, if the grocery store is three miles away, how long does he think it will take you to get there? If you have several errands to run, ask your child how far away he thinks each destination is from the other, and then clock it to see how close his guess is.

Another fun car game is to use the numbers on license plates as an addition and subtraction lesson. Ask your child to add or subtract all the numbers he sees on the license plates you pass. Not only will he be learning math, you’ll be getting your errands done.

Sew Easy

Is sewing a favorite pastime that you would like to pass on to your child? The dog days of summer are a great time to teach your child this hobby, and math plays a big part in it. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting all use math to create pieces of clothing, quilts, or wall hangings: counting rows on a sock, adding yarn to make a piece bigger, multiplying to figure out how many times a certain color will fit across a motif. The possibilities are endless.

Eating Out

Busy summer days mean you don’t always have time to cook dinner at home. The next time you eat out as a family, use it as a math lesson. Ask your child to figure out the tip, and play a guessing game to see how much you think the bill will come to.

Countdown to Fun

Pool parties, picnics, and cookouts are summer activities to look forward to. If your child has a fun event coming up, start a countdown. The lesson is two-fold: It’ll improve her time-telling skills, and it’ll help pass the time until the event. For example, if she has a friend’s birthday party coming up in four days, ask her how long that is in days, hours, and minutes. You can even start a countdown for each of these.

Neighborhood Walk

Take a walk around your neighborhood or a local park, and look for different shapes and patterns in nature. For example, how far apart are the telephone poles from each other in your neighborhood? Are they all the same distance, or do they vary? Is there a pattern? This lesson can also be done with trees, fire hydrants, or flowers in a garden.

In addition, ask your child to find a living thing that is a square, rectangle, or circle. With so much to see and find, he’ll never know that you’re working on his geometry skills.

Bottom Line

Go out and have fun this summer! Just be sure to include reading and math so when school restarts your kids will be all set for success!