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Engaging Families in Early Math:
A Family Math Night

Families play an important role in children’s early math development. Although families have many natural opportunities to engage children in math as part of their day-to-day lives, few families engage their children in daily math activities or math talk. Educators can play a valuable role in supporting families in creating a rich home math environment and by highlighting the many opportunities to engage in math that occur naturally in and around the home. By organizing programs like family math nights, educators can help families feel more empowered to engage in home math activities with their children. As part of the California Statewide Early Math Initiative, a Family Math Night was organized for families at the Lighthouse for Children. The aim of this event was to provide families with concrete examples of how they can engage in early math activities with their children, as well as provide guidance on how to introduce math talk when engaging in reading. Our presentation will review the process of planning a family math night and discuss the types of math activities that were introduced to families. We will also discuss survey data from parents who attended the event. Lastly, we will reflect on best practices for others who may be interested in hosting their own family math night, by providing tips and resources.

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Osnat Zur

Osnat Zur, PhD, is a Senior Program Associate with the Center for Child & Family Studies at WestEd. She serves as Project Director of WestEd's partnership at the National Center for Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning, and a lead evaluator of the California Statewide Early Math Initiative. Prior to her Project Director role at the national center, Zur had been leading content development for PD2GO, a collection of professional development modules developed for First 5 California designed to support continuous improvement in early childhood programs. Previously at WestEd, Zur served as the lead researcher and author for the California preschool foundations in the domain of science, and for the state's preschool curriculum framework in mathematics and in science. She also developed assessment measures in cognitive development — math and science —for the Desired Results Developmental Profile instrument and for other school readiness instruments. Zur is a developmental psychologist, with expertise in children's cognitive development, focusing primarily on the development of mathematical and scientific reasoning. She received a BA in psychology and a doctorate degree in developmental psychology, both from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While at UCLA, Zur studied children's early counting and arithmetic reasoning. She also helped develop a preschool science curriculum and implement the curriculum at several sites of the UCLA Child Care Services.

Sophie Savelkouls, PhD, is Research Associate at the Center for Child and Family Studies at WestEd. She has collaborated in writing several early math research briefs on children’s early math skills and concepts for the California Statewide Early Math Initiative. She has also helped evaluate various components of the initiative, including the Family Math Night. Prior to joining WestEd, Dr. Savelkouls conducted research on children’s understanding of number and math (birth through age 5) and published her research in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Savelkouls is a developmental psychologist, with expertise in children's cognitive development, focusing primarily on the development of number sense. She received a BA in psychology and child development from Tufts University and an MA and PhD in developmental psychology from Boston College.


Sophie Savelkouls


Lisa Grant has worked in the education field for over 30 years. She has been a secondary math teacher, instructional coach, and math content specialist at the district, state, and county levels. Her passion is early math learning and preventing math anxiety through a growth mindset. She believes in child-centered, play-based learning and the unmistakable beauty in mathematics.

Lisa Grant

Barbara Daniel is the Site Supervisor of the Lighthouse Center for Children Child Development Center (LFC CDC) of the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools. Under Barbara’s leadership, the LFC CDC earned a five-star rating from the Quality Counts California program and is pursuing the National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation. She also helped launch a dual immersion program for preschool-aged children and an early math initiative. Barbara earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and a Master’s Degree in Education, emphasis in Early Care and Education. Barbara has worked in early care and education for the past 19 years in both instructional and leadership roles.

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Barbara Daniel

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