Faculty and students from the UK College of Education recently held a family math night at Lexington’s Beaumont Middle School, with more than 550 participants.
The purpose of Family Math Nights is to increase parental involvement in mathematics and to target struggling students by encouraging more family involvement at home through fun, targeted math games. This was the third Family Math Night at Beaumont and this year every game, booth, and handout was available in both English and Spanish.
“We had 24 pre-service teachers in attendance who got hands-on experience in an informal, highly diverse setting, working with students and their families,” said Dr. Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, assistant professor in the UK College of Education Department of STEM Education. “They were very excited about the experience and feel they really benefited from the ‘low stakes’ environment it created.”
Family Math Night (FMN) began in the Spring of 2008 to help satisfy the College’s desire to provide more outreach with local schools and to involve pre-service teachers in more informal activities with schools. Coordinated by Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, Craig Schroeder (then a graduate student in the College of Education), and former faculty member Tim Jacobbe, the first FMN was held at Booker T. Washington Academy where 200 students and parents took part in a variety of mathematics activities. Since then, FMNs have been held at Jessie Clark Middle School and Beaumont Middle School, with other sites targeted for future events.
Mohr-Schroeder says that FMNs are great experiences for both the families involved and the College’s pre-service teachers.
“Through Family Math Nights, the schools have been able to bring families into the school and have them participate in mathematics games that are fun and enjoyable for everyone in the family,” Mohr-Schroeder said. “The parents are always very excited to about the event, and it is a lot of fun to watch them interact with their children. The events also allow our pre-service teachers to gain informal field experience hours in a different kind of setting. They love the fast-paced nature of the night and are always surprised at the number of families who attend and participate. It also gets them to think differently about the mathematics they teach, especially in terms of how they can turn ‘boring’ content into something fun, challenging and relevant.”
For more information on the UK College of Education’s mathematics and other STEM-related education programs, visit the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education website.