Strengthening Partnerships through Family Math Nights

We know it is so important to make sure a child is excited and engaged in learning. We also understand the critical role parent involvement contributes to a student’s success. “Attitudes towards math often start at home,” says Scott Armstrong, Learning Supervisor for Mathematics, K-12. “When children come home from school and say “I’m not good at math,” there are some parents who nod their heads with misguided compassion and agree that they weren’t either. Changing those attitudes has a tremendous influence on a child’s academic success.”

Family Math Nights have gained popularity among school boards as a positive way to promote math learning at home. Last year, more than half of Thames Valley elementary schools held Parent and Family Math Nights.

During Family Math Nights, parents and children go to their school for an hour or so in the evening to participate in math activities and games. The aim is to involve parents in using math strategies and thinking, and show them how math learning has both changed and stayed the same, since they were at school.

Participants play and learn as they circulate among centers, stations, or between events. Math Nights provide parents the opportunity to develop mathematical thinking along with their children, while at the same time learning strategies, games, and activities they can use at home to support their child.

According to Armstrong, the message they want parents to take home is what mathematics in today’s classrooms look like. It is not "new" mathematics, just some new approaches to teaching mathematics based on evidenced informed research.

“Yes, students do need to know their math facts, but it is important to spend time providing background on adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, and develop a conceptual understanding. From there, it is much easier to learn math facts” says Armstrong. “Games and activities are a powerful way to learn math facts - it is more than just drill and kill.” Armstrong adds that there are a variety of algorithms (emphasis on the plural) that are often faster and more efficient than traditional North American algorithms.

Feedback on the Math Nights has been extremely positive. Parents and attendees are thankful for the information and added understanding. A common comment has been "I wish I was taught math this way," says Armstrong.

To reach a larger parent and guardian population, Thames Valley schools are now expanding their offerings to include Family Math Breakfasts, Family Game Nights, and Grand-Friends Day, all with the goal of increasing parent engagement and generating excitement about math.

“When kids are excited about what they’re doing they develop confidence, and learning increases,” says Armstrong. “And when confidence and learning in math increases, there’s no room for math anxiety to creep in. Instead, what develops is a life-long appreciation of math.”

 

Learn more about what we are doing to improve our Mathematics results.

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