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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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At a recent White House symposium, policymakers, funders, researchers, and educators gathered to discuss the importance of promoting early Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education for our nation’s youngest learners. A number of key themes emerged from this meeting, including that children’s knowledge of math is broad and deep, that it is one of the best predictors of later school success,1 and that it develops anywhere, anytime, starting at birth. Most importantly, families are fundamental to children’s early math success. 

The teaching of mathematics, however, looks different from the instruction that was offered when most adults were in school, and many parents harbor anxiety about math. For this reason, families need guidance, inspiration, and motivation to support their young children’s mathematical development effectively.

This issue of the FINE Newsletter draws out important lessons for both practitioners and families around engaging families in children’s learning of mathematics anywhere, anytime. Taken together, the articles in this edition clearly show that 

  • math is part of our everyday lives, and as such, is conditioned by relationships, culture, and values;
  • math can be an enjoyable parent-child experience; and
  • digital media can be harnessed to promote math learning—for children and parents.

We invite you to share this issue with interested friends and colleagues. We also hope you’ll send us any comments that you have!


Taniesha Woods photo

Math Is Everywhere, When We Know What to Look For
Learning mathematics starts in infancy and happens anywhere, anytime. In this commentary, Taniesha Woods explores what young children need to know about math, what environments rich in mathematics learning look like, and how families can support children’s math development. 

Voices From the Field

Monster Music Factory

Reading Interactive Math Storybooks                                                        
Researchers from Teachers College, Columbia University, explore how a relatively new type of book—interactive math storybooks—can help parents appreciate and foster their child’s mathematical thinking.

Bedtime Math Q & A

Q & A with Laura Overdeck of Bedtime Math: Helping Families and Children Cuddle Up to Math
In this Q & A with Laura Overdeck, learn how Bedtime Math is giving families and children comfort in talking about numbers in their daily lives, and helping families and afterschool programs get children excited about math in the world around them. 

Expert Commentary to “Daddy Says This New Math Is Crazy”: Three Tips for Teachers
Based on her work with the Nana y Yo y las Matemáticas project, Marlene Kliman writes about three strategies teachers can use to engage families in their children’s math education, especially when today’s math curriculum diverges from traditional practices.


Helping Teachers of Mathematics Integrate the Knowledge and Culture of Families Into Their Practice
Mathematics is not culture-free. Marta Civil and Diane Kinch from TODOS: Mathematics for ALL share four interrelated ways to develop and support mathematics educators to engage families from diverse backgrounds in culturally appropriate ways.


PBS Math Framework (partial)

Transmedia Activities: Engaging Families to Improve Children's Early Mathematics Achievement
Make way for mathematics digital media! New research reveals that regular use of digital games and hands-on mathematics activities at home, along with parent training around digital media for learning, can improve mathematics outcomes for young children.


Father and daughter reading

Family Involvement News: June 2016
Looking for innovative stories of family engagement from around the world? Need new tools to support family engagement workshops? Discover all this, along with new ideas in family engagement in science, technology , engineering, and math (STEM).

1 Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver (2016, April 21). Douglas Clements, Ph.D on Early Childhood Math Education at the White House [Video File]. Retrieved from

The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archives of past issues, please visit To subscribe to the FINE Newsletter, please visit our subscription center

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project