In this blog post I wanted to share with you some tips on preparing and facilitating a maths parent information night.
I have done a LOT of these over the years (at my own school when I was a Numeracy Leader, and in other schools as a consultant) and wanted to share some of my tips.
1. The audience
The vast majority of parents who attend these sessions are usually the ones who are very confident in their own mathematical ability (and often that of their child). I always hope those parents who have had really bad experiences at school in maths will come along so I can help them to see how important it is that they have a positive attitude to maths- to support their child, but unfortunately often these don’t attend! At a recent parent information night I ran over 90% of the parents said they had a positive attitude to maths (which is great), but it is the ‘others’ I really want to reach!
2. The hang-ups
‘Times Tables’ are a HUGE issue. Nobody really remembers much about what they learnt in maths at Primary school- except ‘times tables’. These are seared into the memories of everyone- some in a positive “I won the times tables race” way, others in a “I hated the times tables race” way. SO, this is one way to reach and engage parents. Talk about how our teaching of these has changed and why it has… addressing this elephant in the room is critical for bringing parents on board.
3. Maths Anxiety
Many parents are anxious and scared, feel out of control and just want to help their children. This anxiety may show itself in semi-aggressive “we didn’t learn it this way when I went to school” type statements. It is important to provide parents practical suggestions of ways they can help their children. Think playing board games and doing puzzles, and seeing maths in the real world. Remind parents that maths teaching has changed and it is not their job to teach their children, but to help them to develop a love and interest in maths in the real world- through sports, art, construction etc.
4. A Google Form can help
I like to provide parents with a google form to enable them to submit any questions they have before the night. If you are confident, by all means leave time for questions at the end of the session, but be ready for some doozy questions. You most likely are already aware of the parents who will ask the challenging “when I went to school, I learnt by rote and I am now a x[rocket scientist, famous engineer, etc] so why don’t you just teach like that now?”. Be prepared for these questions. Whatever it is, if you don’t feel confident answering questions, you don’t have to! Provide an option for parents to email questions through to you after the night. Otherwise, the imposter syndrome we have talked about before will pop into your mind and derail your efforts.
5. Involve the students
Get the students to run parts of the evening- they are your best advocates and parents love seeing their children presenting.
I hope these tips will help you feel confident in running a parent information night. Developing home-school links is so important!
BTW did you know I offer a “done for you” online parent information night for schools. Yes, you can have me run the parent night and speak to your community about how maths has changed and how parents can help their children at home. If you are interested in finding out more email me!
Want to learn more from Dr Ange? Click here to find out more about her “Assessing Place Value in Years 3-6” Mini Course.