Math Clubs

Parent Q&A

Advanced math club intake assessment Jul 3, 2019 (4 responses below)
After School Math Club for Girls May 23, 2017 (3 responses below)
Elementary School Math Club from Bedtime Math (Crazy 8's) Mar 29, 2017 (1 responses below)
  • Advanced math club intake assessment

    (4 replies)

    I have an elementary aged child who is advanced in math and bored in math class unfortunately.  My kid's school has PTA clubs led by parents and supports parents in leading clubs of their choice.  So to help him and kids in his position, I'll be leading a math club targeted toward advanced students to provide a place for my child and some of the other kids in his situation an avenue to dive into more advanced math to finally be challenged by math.  Since demand for a place in clubs usually exceeds supply and I'm expecting a lot of interest, I asked for permission to limit the club registration to kids who are advanced in math so I can cover advanced topics and could skip the basics in my instruction, and received permission to do so since it is appropriate based on the curriculum I plan to cover.  I was hoping for advice as to how to make the determination for purposes of registration?  I thought about asking parents to evaluate their own child when they are signing their kids up for clubs and tell them to be honest about their child's ability as I'll have to ask kids to leave who cannot keep up and offer their spots to kids on wait list, or doing a written test and accept kids scoring over a certain score.  But both seem complicated and I'm wondering if there is an easier way.  The club is after-school and completely voluntary for both students and parent volunteers leading it and designed for a deeper dive into more complicated math problems.  Since we will only have 2 parent-volunteer-teachers for the whole group of kids, we will not be set up to help kids who are not keeping up or have behavioral issues (at least not without more parental help) and so it is important for the success of the club to keep the level of the kids in the club roughly the same and advanced enough to keep up with challenging math word problems, but I'm a bit at a loss as to how to ensure that.  Anyone's school has a similar club and how are kids evaluated for purpose of that club? 

    I encourage you to be less stringent about not allowing kids who can’t “keep up”; to be honest, it sounds kind of snobby. You can do whatever exclusive club you want outside of school (private math olympiad team or first lego league, for example), but my parental expectation is that a school sponsored club at least should try to be welcoming to all who express interest. Also be aware there is a huge gender difference in expressed math interest so please make a big effort to get girls involved and keep them involved. Finally, as a reluctant answer to your actual question, use SBAC scores as the optional screening. Phrase it  something like, “students with a score of x or more on the x grade SBAC test are likely to get the most out of this club.” (You can look up the sbac consortium online to get percentiles, which the state of CA only provides upon request.)

    as a parent of a boy with very high math scores (98th percentile), I would not be interested in signing him up for your club as you describe it so I suspect you may not have a wait list.

    Ask teachers to recommend students. 

    I agree with the comment to be less stringent. Years ago I worked with some parents who wanted to start a school spelling bee club; they also only wanted the top kids. If you want to basically hand-pick participants, you should do that privately and hold the class outside of school.

    I appreciate that you want to do something for your child that will also benefit other children; however, what if you were a kid who really loved math and were not picked? How would you feel?

    A PTA-supported program should not have competitive participation standards. It should be first-come or a lottery.

  • After School Math Club for Girls

    (3 replies)

    I am interested in starting an afterschool math club just for 4th-5th-6th grade girls, as a parent volunteer at my kids' elementary school. I'd base it on the Math Olympiad framework, or maybe Mathletes. Any other local schools doing something similar? Tips, advice, favorite curriculum sources? Note I am not an educator, and would need to convince an upper-grade teacher to "sponsor" it too, and bring in some professional resources. Thanks!

    You do realize you are asking a teacher to do curriculum work without pay?

    Maybe you could get the PTA to fund the time.

    I did a math fair at my daughter's school for a number of years (I teach math). What I needed was help from a couple of very well-organized parents who loved/knew math.

    In terms of curriculum I suggest you look at the Berkeley Math Circle website, or the Math Circles Wiki. A visit to the LHS bookstore and looking through materials for teachers would be another good starting place (Marilyn Burns has written a number of good books.)

    "Math for Girls and Other Problem Solvers," put out by LHS is an old book, but has a lot of group-oriented games and problems.

    Have fun doing the research.

    I realized I forgot to mention the Julia Robinson Math Festival.

    They have problem sets on that website.

    I suggest you look into the Berkeley Math Circle (BMC).  This is headed by Zvezdelina Stankova, runs from the second grade through the end of high school (two lower levels, five upper levels), and the classes are held at UC Berkeley.  They have a pretty good website (revamped last year) with some available materials (see, and Zvezda has published at least two books with BMC materials that are relevant.  The instructors for the classes are around 75% women, and more than half the students are girls, so it is geared toward your audience of interest.  The classes are on Tuesday evenings during the year (they run in parallel), starts up again in September.  You can probably reach out directly to Zvezda for more information/guidance.

  • I have a kid in kindergarten (public school) and he loves math and we read bedtime math books and do math related activities with him nightly.  He asked for more math related activities in school and even though his school is good it does not provide any math or science activities for the early elementary kids.  I read about this Bedtime Math club where I can register and ask for the kit and basically chaperon and lead a math club for about 12-15 kids as an after-school club.  I was planning to do it through the school but decided against it since I was told when I raised it with the principle that she would love me to do it but I would not be able to pick the kids participating (I can only ensure my son will get to participate) since they expect the interest to exceed the 15 spots in the club and there would be a lottery and some spots will be reserved for kids who need extra help in math or from disadvantaged backgrounds.  It of course sounds fair but as I'll be leading it myself (there are no other volunteers) and am going to take half a day off work a week to do it, I want it to be fun and good experience for my son and the kids in the K classes he likes and gets a long with and not deal with behavior issues or have to supervise kids I don't know.  Thankfully I will be able to do it through my son's aftercare center and they told me they would provide the space and I can pick the kids as long as I get parental permission of the kids that I (my son) want to include in the club (which will not be a problem since I know the parents), and I just need to pass volunteer clearance and background check, etc. (which is easy since I already have it in place from helping on field trips).   I'm really excited about it but also nervous even though I know most of the kids who are going to be doing it since they are my son's friends.  Anyone has a kid participating in a club like that or has led one as a parent?  If so, how was it?  Was it difficult to lead for someone with no teaching experience at elementary school level (I worked as TA teaching math and related fields in college but I know it is not the same)?  Any other advise I should consider before I start and finalize the details.  

    Berkeley is fortunate to have European mathematicians and highly qualified teachers leading Math Circles. Although I have not referred my own math tutoring students to them, I'm aware that it is an enrichment program which meets on a weekly basis. I have enclosed a link for you. Next year the deadline to register is May 2nd. They accept students starting at grade at Grade one, which your son will be when September arrives. I hope this will be helpful. It's great to have a child eager and interested so young in math and that you want to fan the flames of learning

    Tralee Johnson


Archived Q&A and Reviews

May 2002

I am looking for a way for my almost 13 year old son to get together with other kids his age who love doing and talking about math. Does anybody know of any programs or clubs that could meet this need? Thanks. brenda

My 14 year old son has been part of the Bay Area Math Olympiad for the past two years. There are meetings throughout the year, and then practice sessions for the Math Olympiad. Mick came in second for his grade level, and got a very nice trophy, a CD walkman as a prize, and a very cool t-shirt. They have a web page. Do a search for BAMO. This was a great experience for my son. Patti