An important focus of this year’s summer numeracy program was to increase parent engagement at each site over the course of the three weeks. Each site employed a variety of creative strategies to ensure that families were learning together at summer numeracy. In addition to daily greeting and sharing of success stories with parents upon pick up and drop off, our teaching team concentrated on three main strategies for parent engagement, as discussed below.
In order to create an open and welcoming atmosphere, parents were invited to attend an open house during the second and third week of math camp. This gave parents the opportunity to interact with the teaching team in a low-stress environment over coffee and muffins, and to participate in some of their children’s favourite math centres. It was a wonderful opportunity for our Mathletes to share some of their key learnings with family, and they took great pride in showing off their STEM creations (i.e. boats, bridges).
During these open houses, one of the most popular activities was the shared reading centre, which boasted a wide array of math-related picture books. For me, this reinforced the power and value of connecting math and literature (see previous blog post on this topic). The students were excited to share a story with family, and there was meaningful math talk occurring as a result!
2. Travelling math bags
We also wanted to extend summer numeracy learning to the home environment, so we put together Travelling math bags for each family (siblings took home one for the household). Depending on the strengths and needs of the recipient(s), the math bags were composed of a variety of potential items, including:
- math journal
- math question (see picture)
- math game
- deck of cards with specific game outlined
- addition/multiplication flashcards
- math-related picture book
As attendance for some of our Mathletes was inconsistent, this was not a successful strategy for every student. Also, since we were sending these math bags home daily, the biggest challenge was changing up the contents of the bags during the day so that the Mathletes could have new (or at least slightly different) activities for each night. However, we did receive positive feedback from multiple parents who appreciated the activities included in the math bags. They gained ideas for how they could practice and improve numeracy skills with their children at home- often in a surprisingly fun way!
3. Take-home math kits
The travelling math bags were only intended for use during the course of the summer numeracy camp, yet we wanted our Mathletes to be able to extend their learning throughout the summer. Thanks to some excellent budgeting and generous funding, we were able to save enough to put together take-home math kits for each of our Mathletes that we distributed on the last day of camp. These kits consisted of:
- rubber band
- cotton ball
- craft sticks
- deck of cards
- smiley ball
- pencil case/container
While not all directly related to math learning (I’m pretty sure the Smarties were all devoured immediately 🙂 ), these items also served as reminders of some of the activities we carried out as a group. A simple deck of cards and a pair dice can provide so many opportunities for math learning in a family setting (see here and here for ideas). Ideally, we hope that our students use the tools provided in their take-home math kits to continue to build upon what they learned during the summer numeracy program!