Math Club staff: the parent volunteers

The success of our math club was largely due to the outstanding teamwork of our diverse group of parent volunteers. The picture above shows four members of our team, each born in a different country, with a different professional background; therefore, each making a unique contribution to the Math Club. We were also fortunate to have coaches of different genders—this helped create a productive and positive environment for our class with roughly the same number of boys and girls.

The four people in the above picture were part of a larger team. All members participated in the discussion and planning, and a few of us did the actual teaching. As you might expect, the people doing the teaching need to have some sort of public speaking experience—whether it be teaching experience or presentations given at one’s workplace. Even if the person has not taught children, (s)he can soon adapt to the new audience. Fortunately, you only need one or two people who can do the teaching.

As for the rest of the parents participating in planning the Math Club, I found that as long as every member participating in the discussion fulfills ONE of the following 3 criteria, our (s)he can be a valuable contributor to our meetings. The list that follows is highly subjective; I am simply sharing my experience in the hope that other parents find it useful.

3 criteria for parents to be involved in running a math club– need only 1 of the 3 to qualify!

  1. A past or present career that requires mathematical thinking. This is extremely broad and includes, among others, anyone with a background in programming, engineering, teaching mathematics, or work in a variety of STEM fields.
  2. Having attempted to teach one’s child(ren) above grade level mathematics. Note that the attempts need not have been successful! If a parent shares his experience, say, trying to teach his son algebra, we all have a lot to learn from what worked for him and what did not. The final result of his teaching attempt is much less important to us than the process.
  3. Having older child(ren) who have participated in math clubs, and being prepared to share their experience with the rest of the group. Parents who have had this experience are familiar with the emotional landscape, so to speak, of having a child tackle mathematical challenges. The psychological aspect of math problem solving is a very important, yet often overlooked area.

Note that you just need to fulfill ONE of these to qualify.  So, for example, you need not have experience in math to be part of the discussion! You can still contribute in other valuable ways such as giving input on classroom management, procedures, etc.

As with any team, it is crucial to be open to other people’s opinions and to remember the common goal: to provide a rigorous, yet fun learning experience for the children.

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