Education News

Parents, Students Learn Together Over the Summer

More than 200 families at Briargrove Elementary joined a summer learning project.

This summer, Ellecia Knolle is hanging out with youngest daughter Marie.

“Ok, we’re going to do math!” Knolle says.

Her daughter Marie immediately groans.

They sit side by side on a white love seat and start doing math on the iPad.

They do this for about 20 minutes every day. It’s sort of like flashcards on steroids.

“Skip count by 10 and fill in the missing number, 10, fill in the blank, 30 …”

At first, seven-year-old Marie answers the problems easily. Then they get harder. So her mom chimes in.

“What do you think? It says there are four blanks and then a 70. What do you think? Is it asking you to,” Knolle asks.

“Oh, yes!” Marie exclaims.

”You know what, maybe that’s an opportunity for you to count backwards,” her mom adds.

Marie is learning multiplication before she starts second grade this fall.

Her mom is also learning something: how to become a teacher at home.

She lists some of her roles: “Number one as a cheerleader, number two as a pacifier, in case they get to a point where they get frustrated and then third as a co-learner.”

That’s exactly the kind of hands-on involvement that her child’s principal wants.

Eden Jones-Hinds leads Briargrove Elementary near the Galleria.

She says many parents want to be involved in their child’s education. They just may not know how.

“They’re wanting a playbook of knowing what are these steps, how do I teach this, and we are providing them an aide, to hold their child’s hand as well as the parents hand through this process,” Jones-Hinds says.

That playbook is an online tutorial called MobyMax. The school paid five hundred dollars so parents can use it for free.

More than 200 families signed up. Half of those students really do need extra help so they don’t start the new school year behind.

But the idea is for all the parents to become more involved, even be “co-teachers.”

Matthew Barnes with the nonprofit FACE Consultants helped launch this project.

He says every parent – regardless of their education – can take responsibility for their child’s academics.

They just need discipline and self-confidence. Take the Knolle family.

“She’s gathering confidence in her ability to support her child’s learning in a very direct way. Also the child is learning that she can learn from her mom. That’s a pretty transformational dynamic that’s taking place,” he says.

And Ellecia Knolle says studying together has brought her closer to her daughter.

“It’s very special to me because Marie is the youngest of our three. So this summer time together has just been a bonding experience.”

This summer Ellecia Knolle and her daughter Marie, 7, are doing school work together, about 20 minutes of math every day. It’s part of a pilot project at Briargrove Elementary to help students keep learning over the summer and also give parents more tools to be involved with their child’s education.


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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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