So why did you start leading a group your own kids aren't in?

"The first is simply the benefits of forming a math club. You can get students together. I know some of the parents out here have run Math Circles or have run math clubs at their school. In so doing, you are probably providing most of the students in that club with the most important educational experience they’re getting in their school, even though it’s no t happening in the regular classroom. You can offer more challenging mathematics." Richard Rusczyk

The elementary school my son goes to had an after school math club that was mostly for the fourth and fifth graders. The focus in the past  was on organizing the kids to go to the various math competitions that occur over the year. After last year the previous volunteer parent "graduated" to middle school and the club almost disappeared.  Some time went by and I responded to the call for a new volunteer at the end  of October and have been running it since then.

Why Me?

This was my first time volunteering at school. I've always felt that there wasn't an opportunity that was worth the lost time at work. However, I've thought about getting involved with the math club in the past. Math is a passion of mine and I had some key mentoring experiences at the end of elementary school that I would love to provide for others. More generally I've found that I really enjoy watching kids learn. After a few weeks I can say that this seems to be true whether or not they're my own  children.  Speaking of which although my own son isn't old enough yet for the club, I also want for it to be available for him in future years.  I'm hoping to also learn along the way myself and improve my own  teaching/facilitating skills.

The kids

My initial target was 10-15 kids. I ended up with 15 that are split almost evenly between boys and girls and skew mostly towards fifth graders. They all are doing various stages of pre-algebra using the Glencoe Mathematics Middle School book 1 or 2.


I'm running the club as a hybrid math circle / math competition club. That means in practice, I've been buying and reading a set of math circle diaries and books and scouring the web for interesting ideas. Sometimes we practice a bit in preparation for the next contest and others we engage in a mathematical exercise or game for the day.  My main focus is to try out a lot of different activities in the hopes of interesting the kids and deepening their understanding. This is not always easy and I'm still evaluating week to week what seems to work and what draws out the most from the kids.

1 comment:

  1. Wow your doing exactly what I want to start as a parent volunteer can u guide me in starting this process