A Family Matter: Math in the Woods
By Dr. Judith McVarish
Eighty children, parents, and staff attended the St John’s
University In Addition After School Math Program four-day
semiannual camping retreat in upstate NY. The camping weekend was
designed to engage children, their parents, extended family
members, teachers, and the In Addition Team in substantial,
interesting, varied math activities that engaged minds, bodies,
aesthetic senses and emotions.
These activities included:
A nighttime star-gazing walk, a Sunday morning pattern photo hike,
drama creation and presentations, dance, group problem solving
activities, quiet time together as families, baby observations,
reading together as cabin mates, geometric pumpkin carving, bread
making, sports, campfires, and parent focus groups.
The philosophy underlying the In Addition program is that people
learn best when they share, plan, assess, and work together – when
all understand the educational value of the activities – when
parents and children feel they are respected partners in the
learning journey – when everyone involved is encouraged to think
more deeply – when cross-discipline learning is integrated – when
the emotional aspects of learning are honored – when quicker is not
better - when challenge and persistence are expected and making
mistakes and revision are seen as essential to learning.
This program looks at math learning differently. The planning and
orchestration of such a multi-faceted endeavor demands knowledge,
flexibility, humor, and commitment by the Team and ultimately by
the parents and children.
“We would like to thank you all for taking us to the camping trip
this weekend. My daughter and I learned so much through the various
activities that we were part of. Can’t wait for the next one,” said
an In Addition mother.