New Chicago School Program Teaches Parents to Become Their Children’s First Math Teachers

  • 8 Mar 2018
  • By CME Group

Christopher House Shares its Innovative and Impactful Model for Helping Low-Income Preschoolers become High-Performing High School Students

One Chicago pre-K and elementary school, Christopher House, has introduced a groundbreaking Early Math Family Engagement Program to help close the achievement gap for low-income preschool students. Designed to help parents serve as their children’s first math teacher, the program provides educational resources around kindergarten readiness in math, educating parents on development check points and helping them use data-driven results to promote learning in the home.

According to the Education Commission for the States, children’s preschool knowledge of math predicts their later success in the subject -- even into high school. Early math knowledge is also a predictor of achievement in all other subjects, like reading. However, many children in underserved communities do not have access to high-quality pre-kindergarten math education.

Christopher House’s innovative new program aims to provide that opportunity to low-income students by partnering with their parents. Through teacher-led, interactive workshops, parents learn specific math language, skills, and activities that they can use in daily interactions with their children. Each family is supported by a dedicated Family Advocate, who helps set goals and provide resources.

“The initial findings from our Early Math Family Engagement Program illustrate the power that comes from partnering with parents,” said Karen Ross-Williams, Director of Early Childhood and Youth Development at Christopher House. “By providing parents with the tools and resources they need to support their children’s education, educators can expect to see significant increases in student achievement.”

After its first year in place, the Early Math Family Engagement Program is proving to be a success. Key outcomes from the 2016-2017 school year include:

·         82 percent of Christopher House students have proven to be kindergarten-ready in math

·         83 percent of preschool families attended at least one math engagement workshop during the 2016-2017 program year

·         Students whose parents attended workshops outperformed those whose parents did not

·         98 percent of families reported or demonstrated that they increased their engagement with math-related resources at home

·         92 percent of children have shown an improvement in their emerging early math skills and understanding since the introduction of the Early Math Family Engagement Program.

CME Group Foundation, which serves as an advocate for computer science and math education and the use of technology to personalize learning in Chicago and throughout Illinois, has been a key funder of this initiative since it began.

 “CME Group Foundation has invested in the Christopher House early math program since its inception because their work with teachers and parents have positive outcomes for closing the achievement gap,” said Kassie Davis, Executive Director of CME Group Foundation. “We’re pleased to see these measurable results and continued success of the program.”

As a family of schools that combines a continuum of personalized education starting at birth with immersive family support, Christopher House understands the critical role a parent or caregiver plays in their child’s education. For more information about Christopher House’s early education model and its innovative approach to closing the opportunity gap for at-risk students and families, visit

About Christopher House

Founded in 1906, Christopher House is closing the opportunity gap through a continuum of personalized education with immersive family support starting at birth. Through this innovative approach, Christopher House is creating a national model for helping low-income, at-risk children and their families achieve success in school, the workplace, and life. In the 1960’s, Christopher House was one of the first Head Start locations in Chicago. Today, with locations in Uptown, Belmont Cragin, and Logan Square, Christopher House serves thousands of children and their families across its Infant School & Preschool, Elementary School, After School, and Parent School.