The Institute for STEM Education piloted another innovative family engagement project this year, with a series of six early math education workshops for parents at the Helen Turner Children’s Center in Hayward. This pilot partnered with volunteer Savitha Moorthy, an Early Childhood Educator and researcher. The goal was to increase the confidence of the parents to be math teachers, coaches, and resources for their children. Emphasis was on “talking math” with children and on identifying and discussing the mathematical concepts encountered in everyday life.
Research shows that parents are often themselves uncomfortable with math, which can interfere with a child’s ability to gain confidence and competence. Workshops focused on mathematical concepts such as geometry, numbers, or measurement, and included practice playing math games, building simple math projects, and talking math with each other. A core group of about 15 parents attended every workshop, reporting their increased confidence in their own mathematical skills and their joy in doing math with their children. They told how the walk to school became an opportunity to count the parked cars, to sort the cars into groups by color, or to measure the distance between streets by counting steps. Parents were recruited by staff of the school’s Parent Involvement Project. These Parent Engagement Coordinators supported the Early Math project as part of their mission of developing an involved and cohesive parent community devoted to helping their children succeed.