On Saturday, August 1st, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer with the West Louisville Math & Science Project (WLMSP) for their annual Family Fun Math Explosion! If you are unaware of what this is, I encourage you to read on, to contact WLMSP, and to get involved (as a volunteer, with the children in your world, or both).
The Family Math Explosion is a 3 hour affair, when children can practice their math, science, and cognitive skills through a series of game stations (approximately 25) while also absorbing history lessons. The games range from learning how to express and write their age, height, weight, address, & phone number, to counting change, to learning the many countries of Africa.
As a volunteer, I was assigned to the “Money Exchange Game”. In this game, children rolled a dice, and collected the number of the dice in change. They continued to roll and collected until they reached either one of two goals: a quarter (for a small sticker on their “passport”) or a dollar (for a big, fancy sticker on their “passport”). Every child that stopped at my station opted to go for the dollar. I was overwhelmed with joy to see children from our community setting their sights on a goal (for some, it stretched their skills), pursuing that goal, and attaining that goal. Their smiles & happiness at reaching a goal that they had set out to achieve is priceless. Even a three year-old child worked to count change up to a dollar after seeing her older siblings smile with joy from their time at the game.
When I set out as a volunteer for the day, I was not expecting to coming away with a lesson learned. A couple lessons were actually bestowed upon me during these three hours – lessons that I have already learned as a parent, but lessons nonetheless. First, I re-learned that children grow cognitively at an exponential rate. From the three year old with an understanding of money & how money is used to barter for things we want, to older children who possessed flawless skills in addition, subtraction, & counting that quickly adapted to counting coins in various groupings & constantly changing the denominations of the coins to achieve the same end goal.
Second, I re-learned that while many children may dislike the idea of “school” ( I won’t go into the many reasons here), these same children are in love with learning. Seeing the children go from table to table, playing the various games, laughing smiling, excited, and engaging in the games with their full attention was priceless. This renewed my faith in people, in whole generations of people, and my resolve to fight for them, to fight to give them the best opportunities possible, knowing they are starting life in tumultuous times.
The third thing that I re-learned from my time on Saturday: it truly takes “a village” to raise a child. Seeing the surprise on some of the parents & grandparents faces as their children counted out change turn to pride in their offspring was a heartwarming experience for me. I call it the “wow, I didn’t realize my child could do that” look.
As a community, as a “village”, we should always sharpen the minds of children when the opportunity presents itself. These acts are ones that will make the biggest difference in our world. The West Louisville Math & Science Project facilitates these opportunities. West Louisville needs this. Our children need this.
Thank you to Eboni, Robin, Deonte, and everyone else who make this possible. If you would like to get involved, you can contact them here.
Bonifacio Aleman, BSSW
*This is open to any children, not just children from West Louisville
*As a disclosure, my oldest daughter is a former member of the Board of Directors of WLMSP; as a result of that, I am well acquainted with their work, commitment, and efforts.