Integrating Mathematical Thinking Into Family Engagement Programs

Issue Brief
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Jan 30, 2017
Authors
Barbara Harris, Dana Petersen, and Claire Smither Wulsin

Key Findings:

  • The grantees that were funded by the Heising- Simons Foundation developed and implemented a rich array of early math projects in a variety of settings. Their efforts show that despite the challenges faced by practitioners and the families they serve, there is room to integrate mathematical thinking and activities across a range of family engagement programs.
  • Seven tips were gleaned from their experiences: (1) build on successful family engagement approaches and ensure staff buy-in; (2) focus on developmentally appropriate math concepts; (3) tailor early math projects to a caregiver’s language and culture; (4) offer practitioners opportunities for professional development; (5) provide families with early math activities they can use in their everyday lives; (6) help families overcome their anxiety about math; and (7) use data for learning and improvement.
The brief explains how exposing young children to early math concepts supports their development of reasoning and problem solving skills and later success in and out of school. It describes the unique ways each of five family engagement programs funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation developed, tested, and integrated early math learning into their usual activities. The brief lays out seven practical tips that emerged from the grantees’ experiences that can guide practitioners and other stakeholders who are interested in integrating early math into their own family engagement programs, and sheds light on issues that programs may want to keep in mind while doing so. 
Senior Staff

Dana Petersen
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Barbara Harris
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