Making Family Night Events Truly Engaging

In each episode of the Inside Our MIND podcast, we take a look at issues and challenges facing education that we are working to address through research, technology and strategic initiatives.

In our latest episode, Brian welcomes MIND’s Lead Mathematician Brandon Smith back to the show for a discussion on family engagement. Building on our previous conversations that discussed ways to promote student engagement and drive active learning, we explore the challenges that schools face when trying to put together family night events that truly engage parents and students.


Brandon explains four common missteps that can be avoided when designing family nights, and provides guidance on how to put families in the driver's seat to provide an experience that both parents and students won't leave behind in the rearview mirror. Brandon also outlines resources we've developed for schools that will help make designing, organizing, and implementing family nights easier and more impactful. You can see and download those resources on our MathMINDs Games page.

What we found, through all of the events that we hosted, is that when we as facilitators drive the experience, the event stops when the doors close. When families drive the experience, they take the experience home and continue.

-Brandon Smith, MIND Research Institute

You can listen to the episode in the player below:

Topics Covered in the Podcast:

0:45 Intro
3:00 Reaching students' families and social networks
11:30 Changing the focus
15:00 Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators
20:30 Who is driving the experience
25:30 Shortcoming of station rotation or "fair" model
30:45 The cell phone metric
33:30 Resources for engaging family nights

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Brian LeTendre

About the Author

Brian LeTendre was the Director of Impact Advancement at MIND Research Institute. In addition to building thought leadership and brand awareness for MIND, Brian worked cross-functionally internally and externally to amplify MIND's social impact and accelerate our mission. He is an author, podcaster and avid gamer.


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