MANGO Math games and activities are great to have available for small Groups or one-on-one sessions with parents or volunteer helpers. Each activity includes instructions for both the student and educator, along with a “guided questions” section, perfect for the parent or volunteer to encourage critical thinking and a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Even if the parent or volunteer has never seen the activity before, he or she can easily play along with the students and ask valuable, critical thinking questions.

Having parents or volunteers work with individual or small Groups of students is a great way to exercise differentiated learning, providing students various avenues to acquire and process content to ensure all the students, regardless of ability or background, can learn effectively. Sometimes just hearing an explanation from someone new helps with a student’s comprehension.

The Common Core State Standards in math states:

“The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe varieties of expertise that mathematics educators at all levels should seek to develop in their students. These practices rest on important ‘processes and proficiencies’ with longstanding importance in mathematics education. The first of these are the NCTM process standards of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections.”

Providing opportunities when students can communicate their thoughts to a small group that is overseen by an adult who can help clarify ideas will only enhance the students’ abilities to see mathematics as sensible, useful and worthwhile.

Research conducted by the Michigan Department of Education 2001 states that “the earlier in a child’s educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects.” The study goes on to say that “when parents come to school regularly, it reinforces the view in the child’s mind that school and home are connected and that school is an integral part of the whole family’s life.” It is important to provide activities that are appropriate and comfortable for parents and volunteers to lead with small Groups of students, to encourage this relationship. The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory published a report called A New wave of Evidence (2002) that concluded that, “when schools, families, and community Groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.” The report, a synthesis of research on parent involvement over the past decade, also found that, regardless of family income or background, students with involved parents are more likely to:

– Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs

– Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits

– Attend school regularly

– Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school

– Graduate and go on to postsecondary education

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