The training, held for about 40 Norton Park Elementary School parents and their children, focused on ways to boost understanding of the Common Core Standards, which are changing how students participate in their math classes by teaching young people the process of learning and not just right or wrong answers.
Jennifer Gates, Norton Park’s academic coach, said the event was “amazing.”
“We weren’t sure what to expect because the weather wasn’t good and because our parents are so busy raising their children and working and trying to fit everything in, including the activities,” she said. “We had hoped for a great crowd, and it exceeded our expectations on every level.”
The Smyrna school serves about 760 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The one-hour classes allowed parents to participate in hands-on activities, many of which were learning games their children do in class every day.
Teachers volunteered their time to help out, and they also had translators to help non-English speaking parents.
This was the first time the school has held sessions in which parents were able to learn their child’s school lessons first hand. The last session just gave parents a background on what common core is, what it means for the future of public education and what changes children will see in the classroom.
“I wanted teachers to be able to instruct parents as if they were the students in the classroom, in what the math is and how to do it,” Gates said.
She anticipates hosting additional sessions over the next several months.
“I’m just hopeful that it’s useful and that people are able to translate what happens in the classroom and the lessons. It’s valuable to a child’s future,” she said.
One parent who took advantage of the session was Angela Wright, who has children in first and third grades and another starting kindergarten next year.
“We’ve had math night before, but this one was real informative because it was more grade specific,” she said Friday. “I really, really enjoyed it.”
Wright said what she personally noticed was how the new curriculum stressed the importance of students focusing on the process of a lesson and not just memorization.
“I hope that it will strengthen (my children’s) math skills and show more critical thinking, to write things down and figure out the answer,” she said. “I want them to understand that there’s more than just one way to look at a problem and figure out a situation.”
Thamim Lodin, who also has two children at the school and another who will start at Norton Park next school year, said he thought the classes were helpful.
“I was happily surprised. It was very helpful,” Lodin said, adding he did not realize the class would be so interactive. “I do homework with my kids and usually I have no direction as to what extra studies I need to better help them. I would recommend this to other parents.”