If I had to pick one refrain that I hear from educators all over the country it’s How do we get families to come to our event?
It’s obviously a common problem. One that I don’t have a definitive answer for. But I do have a few ideas that may help. Some of them are tried and true and a few I just discovered along the way.
Dinner + Math
We all know that parents are busy people. Any opportunity to make their lives easier and they’re usually in. So let’s take dinner off their plate (ha!) and feed them. A spaghetti feed works well. But if you want to make it easy, bring in pizza or, even better, have a restaurant donate the food. You can pass out their restaurant coupons at the Family Math Night sending customers in their direction. It’s a win/win!
Or how about making the event a two-fer. Offering dinner is one great way to get families out but so is connecting the Family Math Night event with something else. For example, one year we had the local police department come and put together fingerprint packets for the families. This was a huge draw. Families came for the packets and stayed for the math. And loved both!
Ice Cream Social
Another idea is to link an ice-cream social with your event. This one is great at the beginning of the school year as the young kinder families are excited to meet new people and the seasoned families love reuniting after the summer break. The key to this one is offering the treats near the end of the event. That way families don’t eat and run.
So for this next one you’ll need buy-in from the teachers. But, let me tell you, it’s a huge hit. All student participants who come to the event receive a FREE Homework Pass. Of course, there are restrictions on its use. That book report project is off-limits. But the kids just L-O-V-E getting these passes. Why not get one night off from writing out the week’s spelling words? If you’ve purchased our kits
then you have the link to customize and print out your own passes.
Extra Credit Coupon
If the FREE Homework Pass just isn’t for you or your staff, what about an EXTRA CREDIT coupon? I haven’t tried this one yet, but I like the idea. So much so, that we’ll be designing our own customizable coupon and including the link in your Family Math Night kit. I’ll let you know when it’s available.
Next in line, the raffle table. Everybody loves to win something. Consider setting up a raffle table where, periodically throughout your event, items get raffled off. I like to stick to ‘mathy’ items like playing cards, calculators, dice, strategy games, etc. Click here
to see samples of some of my previous raffle tables. And here’s a great idea shared by one of our curriculum consultants – display the raffle items in a nice basket and put it in the office. Make sure to label it Family Math Night Raffle Items
. It’s sure to bring in some very excited students!
Family Math Night Ambassadors!
And here’s one of my favorites. Use upper grade students as Family Math Night Ambassadors to promote the event in the classrooms. Kids get kids excited. You’ll need to “train” them before sending them off. But I’ve got you covered. Use thisPromotion Presentation Sheet
to help. Have students practice a few times with each other so they get comfortable with what to say. They’ll need to make appointments with the teachers and when they arrive to do their presentation be sure they bring a few sample activities to share (Ladybug clock from our Math Medley
kit or a pattern bracelet from our Nifty Numbers
kit or geoboards from our Gellin’ with Geometry
kit, a raffle prize, the estimation jar…). I like to send out my Ambassadors a few days before the event. Another good time to send them out is the day the flyers go home.
Finally, for the little guys, I like to use Reminder Stickers
…a small sticker with the event reminder printed on it. As K-1 students are walking out the classroom door at the end of the day, put a sticker on their shirt/jacket. These are customizable and print on Avery labels 5163.
These may be ideas for your Family Math Night event, but they can be tailored for just about any event. If you’ve tried something at your school that works, I’d love to hear about it. Getting families back to school in the evening can be difficult; if there are ways that work – we all need to know!
And remember, these parent engagement events are just the type of thing that the PTA and Title I funds are looking to support. So reach out to them. You’ll be glad you did.