Research shows that students achieve more when their families are invovled in their education. It is also common knowledge that competency in math is important to good jobs in many careers and to success in higher education.
A team comprised of Storm Lake Middle School educators and Area Education Agency personnel became aware of a program called MAPPS (Math and Parent Partnerships). They were quite impressed with the idea, which gives families the opportunity to come together to the school and learn about math methods being taught in the schools today.
The group received training at Wichita, Ks. and introduced their first MAPPS night Sunday to many parents and students. Several other events are being planned to take place throughout the school year.
Common comments from some parents, when it comes to math, include, "I wasn't good at math in school. How can I help?" And, "I don't understand how schools teach math these days! I'll just confuse my child."
SLMS teachers Jane Kestel, Tamie Moritz and AEA psych- ologist Melissa Wirth and Karen Willis of the Parent Information Resource Center, have scheduled the sessions to work with students and their families and teach them they can have fun learning about math.
Comments that the SLMS team learned during their training period was that after participating, parents said they were no longer afraid of math, as it was when they were growing up.
Willis made a comment. "Many (math) problems have more than one right answer and can be solved in a variety of ways."
The first MAPPS session began with a free meal, prepared at the school. Younger members of the faily were invited to come along to the session and after the meal, were taken to another area of the school where high school and college students provided child care.
This session was open to all students in grades six and seven; future sessions will be designed for the other age groups attending the middle school.
Students with a variety of math abilities took part in the event - it is hoped even more students and their parents attend future sessions.
Working in groups, parents and their children were given a common math problem and were asked to develop a poster to show their solutions to the problem and share the methods used.
Computing, the leaders of the session pointed out, is an important skill that is desired by Fortune 500 companies. There are 12 other skills business leaders see necessary to be successful. By working in the group with their parents, as the students often do today in their classrooms, they can develop the other skills including teamwork, problem solving, interpersonal skills, oral communication, listening, personal development, creative thinking, leadership, motivation, writing, organizational skills and reading.
MAPPS has many advantages.
"It is helping build a relationship between the parents and the school," Willis said.
She added that the parents gain a better understanding of the new math and as they begin to understand it, they will feel more comfortable with the education their child (children) is receiving at Storm Lake.
Of course, with math scores being examined closely by the school officials, the more the students understand about math, and the more support they receive from their parents, the better the math scores will be.
It is hoped, said Willis, that participation in the MAPPS sessions will also be help in the learning process.
The next MAPPS session will be held in November. Students will be bringing home information. Parents are asked to please consider attending this fun, family night with their students.