The Ardmore Elementary community gathered for an evening of learning during the school’s annual Parent University mini conference.
Parent University is an opportunity for families to connect with the school and each other while learning more about what is being taught in class and how parents and guardians can support their students.
The day after the event Ana Garcia, Ardmore teacher and co-facilitator of Parent University, was already excitedly looking forward to planning the next Parent University.
“My late night reading last night was the surveys, I couldn’t wait!” Garcia said. “It was a hit!”
Ardmore’s Action Team for Partnerships committee, made up of the school’s assistant principal, counselor, and teachers, organize and host the evening as well as the school’s Community Café events.
“The theme this year was a family friendly math night,” Garcia said. “We wanted everyone to have a packet of math materials that they could take home and feel comfortable as a family continuing to practice with their kids.”
The evening began with dinner and a resource fair with community partners including The Y, the King County Library System, Hopelink, Lifespring, Ardmore’s PTSA, Jubilee Reach, the school’s Family Connections Center and a resource table for help with DreamBox.
Ardmore’s Instructional Technology Curriculum Leader (ITCL) Amber Anderson explained that this year the committee chose to focus on math support in response to feedback from parents about changes in how math is taught.
The district’s math curriculum developers Betty Nhan and Sarah Brewer gave a keynote presentation on how math is being taught and helping students see the application of what they are learning.
“The emphasis should not solely be on procedures and how fast a student can solve a problem,” Nhan said. “We also talked about how important it is for students to have a growth mindset with math.”
Nhan added that events like Parent University are an extremely valuable time for curriculum developers as well, giving them the chance to connect with parents.
“We are able to serve schools and students more effectively by hearing parent, student, and teacher stories around math and seeing the impact of math professional development and initiatives at the building,” Nhan said. “We wanted families to connect our faces to our names and roles so that they know we are a resource for them.”
After the presentation parents could choose between three different breakout sessions that targeted math at different grade levels. The leaders of each group provided information about target skills students are being taught and hands on ways to practice them including math games families can play together at home.
“The goal was for families to feel empowered in understanding these new concepts and feeling that they could support their children at home,” Garcia said.
Teachers, including Garcia, also use the same resources and games in class that parents were provided to help build enthusiasm and encourage the connection between home and school.
“As we played one of the games in class today one of my students – his mom was there last night – was like, ‘This is so fun!’ and I said, ‘Your mom has a kit, you can do it at home!’ and his face lit up!”