For PreK-12 students, learning is not a spatially isolated experience. It continues to occur outside of school walls, away from teachers, and in a variety of unstructured, informal environments. Many people and places will influence their learning patterns, habits, and interests, including their families and the surrounding community.
In mathematics, the familial and communal aspects of a child’s experience can be particularly important for educators to mind. Math carries a certain stigma that isn’t attached to other subjects — parents and students tend to understand math as a fixed skill, a hereditary disposition, of which a person is either capable or not. Many parents are intimidated by math, and their discomfort translates to students, during homework help and through perceived abilities. To combat this discomfort and misconception, math educators need to actively engage, encourage and support their students’ families and the larger community.
To empower PreK-12 math teachers in this task, we’ve created a comprehensive guide entitled: “Best Practices for Involving Families and the Community in PreK-12 Learning”. Click the link below to download the full guide, or keep reading for an overview of what you can find in the guide.
The ongoing process of learning math helps students become better problem solvers. Because math is about more than…
The guide gives in-depth details on five ways that math educators can more effectively communicate the importance of math to those outside of their schools, demonstrate math in education, and encourage the participation in the learning process.
Here are the five strategies:
Promoting Family Involvement
Communication is key: families need to feel involved in their child’s education, and play an influential role in decision making.
From the Guide: “Another way to help families become more active is to invite them to workshops on helping with homework or optimizing study time. If you are using a new math program, you might invite them in to “test drive” it and share feedback.”
Addressing the Subject of Math-Phobia with Parents
Research shows that math-anxiety in parents can affect math performance in students. Establishing an open dialogue can help combat this cycle.
From the Guide: “Occasionally parents who want to understand the math their kids are doing need a refresher themselves. Rather than allowing this to cause them embarrassment, make it clear that all parents and family members have equal access to math support because everyone occasionally needs it.”
Making Class Information Easy to Find and Understand
Keep families engaged by making resources accessible. Make sure that you consider socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and other factors when constructing your notion of accessibility.
From the Guide: “Many parents who struggle with literacy or numeracy are not able to understand their child’s performance data. Some math educators offer workshops that walk parents through the process of reading assessments and school report cards to explain their different components.”
Actively Engaging Parents with Math
When making your classroom open to parents, don’t stop with the space and schedule — actually include parents in the subject matter.
From the Guide: “Consider implementing monthly “Math Trivia” nights for older students or “Math Bingo” for younger ones to bring families together in a positive environment that isn’t focused on performance.”
Partnering with the Community to Address Issues of Equity
Engaging with families is an issue of equity — barriers will arise, including linguistic, cultural, and socio-economic ones. Don’t allow these factors to become barriers at all. Partner with your community to reach every family.
From the Guide: “Many such organizations already have vast experience managing the challenges these families face, and they can provide solutions and resources that educators aren’t equipped to provide. This can also be an effective way to support families with special needs children who may have lost faith in the school system.”
To download the full guide to involving families and the community in PreK-12 learning, visit: