Families Engaging in Math Beyond the Classroom Walls

The Early Math team at AIMS recently had the opportunity to present at a Head Start site last week. Each Head Start site has monthly parent meetings. At these meetings, site coordinators, facilitators, and teachers present information to the parents/families. At this last meeting our team gave a presentation entitled, “Mathematical Language to Use at Home During Play.” We took the parents through a set of typical activities using pattern blocks that teachers had been doing with the students in their classrooms. We showed the parents how powerful the use of language can be during fun activities, and how children and adults can have engaging and eye-opening conversations together. We then gave parents freedom to choose their own design using pattern blocks with support from prompts and sample designs. The families saw how powerful their own hands-on experience can be and really opened their eyes to a playful, engaging, deeper-thinking, and imaginative approach to mathematics.

The Head Start teachers alternate who presents at these meetings and create what they would like to present to the parents. I spoke with Head Start staff members and parents to grasp their perspective on how fundamental these meetings are to not only their students’ families, but to the community as well.

Mrs. Quintero, the site coordinator, said, “When AIMS presented to our families at this last parent meeting, parents were ‘learning!’ It wasn’t just us in front of them talking. They were engaged, learning and actually having fun.”

What she described in her comment was our ultimate goal when planning for the meeting. Many parents of Head Start children do not do the “playing” anymore, just the supervising.

Mrs. Quintero went on to add, “Usually people think of math as simple as 2+2, especially when working with younger children. But everyone at AIMS has shown us, teachers, staff, and now the parents, that it’s so much more. It can be done through play and you have all shown us how that can easily be done.”

After presenting at parent night, I also had the privilege of speaking with Ms. Linda, a helper and grandmother to one of the students. Ms. Linda is a family volunteer who helps out in class every day, and even takes work home with her to help relieve the teachers. Ms. Linda has been present at each parent night and always enjoys hearing about what is going on at Head Start and feeling connected to the organization. Ms. Linda went on to say, “When AIMS was here, all the information was so interesting. It was so nice to see math brought to us and how great it was for us to play and learn during the presentation.”

Our AIMS team looks forward to continuing to partner with teachers, staff, parents, and community members to reimagine the ways that we can all engage in meaningful mathematics together.

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One Response to Families Engaging in Math Beyond the Classroom Walls

  1. Hi Jaclyn,
    My district is beginning the work of aligning the practices of our preschool partners with those of our K-5 elementary schools. One of the ways we are looking at this important work is by offering parent nights around opportunities for discourse in mathematical play. I was wondering if you would be willing to share the “Mathematical Language to Use at Home During Play” presentation you gave? I am alone in beginning this work and would love to have a jumping off point.

    Thank you for your consideration.

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