Math for the whole family |

Math for the whole family

JULIE SUTORsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Julie Sutor Dillon Valley Elementary third grader Junior Barrios plays the cup game with teacher Patty Edson at the school's Family Math Night Thursday evening. The event provided parents with fun ways to work on children's math skills at home.

DILLON VALLEY – Language arts? Piece of cake. Social studies? No sweat. Science? Bring it on.But math – that’s another story for many students.”Traditionally, math has been considered to be a paralyzing subject,” said Dillon Valley Elementary teacher Kerry Edson. “One of the things we’re after is to start building a fondness for this discipline.”Edson and his colleagues at Dillon Valley spent Thursday evening showing parents how to make math fun for the whole family. Teachers worked with small groups of parents and students in English and Spanish as they rotated through dozens of stations, playing games, making crafts and sifting through colorful teaching materials to use at home.

“If parents can help us by practicing at home, it can make such a difference,” said Edson’s wife Patty, also a Dillon Valley teacher.The Edsons demonstrated a variety of fun activities parents can incorporate into playtime to build children’s comfort and confidence with numbers.”Show me how many legs two birds have,” Patty Edson said, in front of a row of upside-down paper cups, each with a number drawn on the bottom. “How many trunks do three elephants have? Show me four takeaway two plus five.”Third-grader Junior Barrios pointed to the corresponding cup to answer each question as his parents looked on, taking notes.

Down the hall, Dotti Augustine led parents and children in a game of “Pig,” during which they threw hand-crafted paper dice and mentally kept track of their running totals. Parents competed against their children to reach a score of 50.”The activities help build number sense – an understanding of the power of patterns and relationships. That promotes mastery and fondness of math,” Kerry Edson said.Dillon Valley principal Gayle Jones organized Family Math Night as part of the school’s heightened emphasis on math during the winter months.”It’s part of our school improvement plan to focus on math,” Jones said. “We’ve had quite a bit of feedback, and parents shared that they would really like to have more tools at home so they can practice math. Parents want more than flash cards and drill sheets.”

Jones noted that children often bring their assignments home but leave their textbooks behind, leaving some parents in the dark on how best to help.Junior’s mother, Adela Guardado, took away several ideas she plans to use at home.”They explained many different card games that can help the kids improve,” Guardado said. “My daughter is in fourth grade, and sometimes it’s hard for me to help her, especially with division. But with these games, it’s easy.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at

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