By Laura Hanson
As students continue to struggle in math, we all must come together to put a new focus on the subject - one that starts in the classroom and continues at home. This can present an interesting challenge because of negative memories many parents may have from their school years. The good news is that math can look different for students these days. Our task now is to show parents how math education has changed and to engage them in their own child’s learning activities.
What better way to do this than with an entire night focused on celebrating math! Especially for those schools that use new and innovative programs like ST Math, a math night can be an excellent way for students and teachers to showcase math success. Here are our 5 P’s to creating a killer math night:
- Parents: Participants are the bread and butter to an event like this, and parents/guardians make for excellent participants. Make sure you have a plan to get them there, keep them there, and make them glad they showed up!
- Programs: What makes math unique at your school? Do you participate in any special programs like ST Math that can be showcased? Make time to explain to parents what makes these programs special and how your students interact with them each day.
- Presentations: Set aside time for several different speakers to demonstrate what math looks like at your school. Principals, teachers, and especially students can be excellent choices, and if you’re using ST Math don’t forget about representatives from MIND Research Institute. They are always happy to come and explain more about Spatial-Temporal Math and how your students are learning and accelerating thanks to JiJi the math penguin.
- Practice: Get hands on. Take your parents to the classrooms or computer labs and let them experience math in a new way. At a recent Math Night event in Buena Park, Calif., parents and families of students were given a tour of the technology lab, and students instructed their parents how to play the ST Math games.
- Penguins: Does your school have a math culture? ST Math schools are easy to pick out because of the huge presence JiJi creates. Make sure that parents understand what the culture looks like and how they can get involved.
A math night independent of other “back to school” activities is a great way to stress the importance that your school places on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM, but it may work best to include a math focus to your traditional “back to school” activities. If this is the case, just make sure that specific time and attention is spent on the subject. Help parents take away the idea that math education doesn’t happen in the classroom alone. Show them what it looks like to learn at home; provide them the resources they need; and encourage them to learn with their kids.
Laura Hanson was an Education Partnerships Specialist at MIND Research Institute.