by Ntombovuyo Ngaphu and Dani Kreusch.
The morning of family maths fun held at the Lebone Centre on 21 February began with a countdown from ten. Children scrambled obediently from the corners of the centre’s playground to stand before the event’s facilitator, Sarah Williams, their parents forming a strong wall behind them.
For half an hour the families, armed with a score card, were to travel between the different stations set up at the centre. Each station had something different that the families had to accomplish, and each one promised to be tricky yet fun. And, if a morning of competing enthusiastically against other families wasn’t a draw enough, the prizes promised to the to p achievers spurred the teams on.
The attending families were divided into three broad age groups, each with its own set of level-appropriate tables to navigate. The tables were facilitated by volunteers from the Lebone Centre and other child development centres around Grahamstown. The parents were also advised to take a background encouraging role, allowing the children to solve as many of the problems as they could
A true parent does not really have to be biological. Tarry Anne verified this idea by choosing to attend the event regardless of the fact that she had no child participating in the competition. Anne came to support her friend’s six-year-old daughter, Remania Davis. Remania’s broad smile showed her pride of having two mothers by her side who taught her the tricks that she needed to master in
order to win the competition. “I am very excited to win!” said an enthusiastic mother, Ella Davis. “My daughter is very good with her studies and she can be anything she wants to be when she grows up, I can’t choose for her,” she added.
Amongst the learners who were also keen to steal the prize were 12-year-old 6th grader, Zellen Roberts. Her favourite subject at school is Afrikaans but she was still determined to win the maths competition to prove herself multi-skilled.
“You see, maths is very important for all ages,” laughed Child Welfare volunteer Mandi Matsamko as Ukufunda journalist Dani failed to get the correct answer to his table’s problem for the third time. “This is a day for parents to learn how to help their kids and not just to give in to the temptation to grab the pencil and say, ‘here, I’ll do it’,” Williams said. “If you can all learn something today then we would have done our jobs. And you can take this with you after today’s over,” she said.
As the scores for each team were tallied all the participants gathered together to learn fun ways to learn many facets of maths using the pair of dice and the pack of cards they were given for participating. Williams also detailed some math games that can be played without the need for any materials at all. One of these, entitled Fizz Pop, requires the parent to call out “Fizz” and the child to respond “pop”. Once the response is given, the parent gives a simple addition, subtraction or multiplication sum that the child then needs to answer. The game can be seen in action in the video below.
The morning ended with each participant receiving a hotdog and a juice, but not before the winners were announced. There were six prizes in total: one for each of the families that scored the highest in every age group, two for the two families that let the children do most of the activity with no help but only encouragement and one lucky draw prize. Each prize winner received a R100 voucher to Wimpy, and every participating family also got a participation certificate. In the preschool age group,team Tiger won the prize, with the Racing Team taking the prize for the grade one to threes and the JNB team taking the prize for the grade four to sevens. The S Team and the Roberts team won the Participation prize and the Iron Man Team got chosen in the raffle.
Programs like family maths fun are meant to inspire parents to work together with their children towards the journey of fulfilling their goals. More such events are scheduled to happen throughout the year at different learning centres in Grahamstown. All of them will be made possible when teachers, parents, children and whole communities come together for the purpose of promoting education.