Theme 2b: Home school partnerships (Arranging for learning)

Effective teachers provide students with opportunities to work both independently and collaboratively to make sense of ideas.

The involvement of parents in the mathematics learning of their child.

Mathematics homework is an area of challenge. Parents can inadvertently put pressure on their children with resulting negative outcomes. Many schools extended their programmes beyond the classroom to include positive ways in which to involve the parents in the mathematics learning of their children. Clear communication, games and other enjoyable tasks, and an invitation for regular feedback and comment from the parents are seen by these schools as an important part of arranging for the mathematics learning of their students.
 

           

Exemplars:

To promote home/school partnerships with the student families, games that we learned went home for the children to play with their families. Other equipment such as ‘squeezie’ boxes were also taken home. Students explained what they needed to do and what they were learning about. This helped students take ownership of their learning and practise using mathematical language. Instructions were also provided for the parents with key ideas and concepts they were helping to reinforce; for example, asking the children to read the numbers to them and tell them the numbers after, before and between.

 

Each child was given a maths pack at the beginning of the programme. This included a notebook for comments they and their parents could make throughout the time. There was a modelling book, a pack of cards, dice, maths “memory” type games (these were changed every two days). Each parent was telephoned before and after for their thoughts and suggestions.

I found it crucial to have the support of the following people:

  • The principal – without his support I would not have been able to take part in the project or use my time in a flexible manner. His support in allowing me to use our school funds for materials and his encouragement and belief that I could do what was asked of me was of value, and appreciated.
  • The parents – I had the total support of the parents who had children involved. I decided, wisely or not, to have a daily contact booklet to keep them informed. This required a huge amount of time but did keep parents in the loop and also allowed them to help their children at home. The booklet would need to be refined when I use this again.
  • The classroom teacher – unless the class teachers of the children involved in the project take an interest and take on board comments about progress then I believe that the efforts would not have been as great. For the year 2 and year 3 children I kept their class teachers involved. I did this by letting them observe the lessons and going into their rooms. The other group is in my numeracy class so there were no problems there with me knowing where they are up to.
We held a parent and child meeting one evening before starting the groups to explain to parents and children what we were doing and why. We shared with parents how they could support their child by playing the games we sent home with them. Parents and students were given the two challenge sheets that we had developed. These showed what knowledge and strategies we would be working on.
To help consolidate learning between school and home, Owairaka provided each student with a maths pack. Inside a colourful zip lock bag was a pack of cards, new maths book for recording learning and for students to reflect in, 2 dice and a squeeze box to practice basic facts with. During the study laminated games and activities were added. This maths pack created an excitement by the students and an enthusiasm to start the sessions.

Instead of introducing a game and then leaving them to it I played it with them for a few days in a row. I spent more time than usual on monitoring involvement as well as improving the games. Making sure that all were participating in games was important; sometimes a dependency on the rest of the players can happen so it was important to ensure this did not occur. This also paved the way to posing new questions or tasks as I was more ‘present’ with them. This challenged and extended them.

  • Home learning packs: targeted activities and games to reinforce new knowledge learning or to practise strategies.
  • Parent involvement through home learning packs and through informal chats.
  • Individual achievement charts with learning intentions added as they master them.

The support of parents and the principal has been noted and was immensely appreciated. Both parties took a vested interest in the progress of the students and often checked in with the students about their progress. I also had an open door policy and the parents were in touch with the teacher to discuss progress over the course of the intervention. The students were encouraged to share their learning with their parents and had follow up work that they could do at home.

I developed the link between home and school with a take-home pack. It had materials to use at home and a description of how to use them in parent language. My feed back and next learning steps were in homework books. Students chose stickers when home work practice was completed.