Family Reading Nights Are Great, But Why Won’t Brands and Moms Sign Up for Math?
Educational success is one of Mom’s most important hot-button issues we identified in Tuning Into Mom. It’s third only to her relationship with her child and the quality of communication between them. Brands that can connect with Mom through educational opportunities for her child are valued and appreciated.
Target, sponsor of Family Reading Night since 2004, understands the value of supporting literacy and the arts. School Family Media, a marketing and media services company focused on reaching school families through PTOs and PTAs, worked with Target to create a win/win campaign, which includes a planning kit for organizing and hosting a great family reading night event at schools. Unlike other approaches to reaching moms, School Family Media and Target work with PTO and PTA volunteers. These PTO and PTA volunteers, who are 95%+ moms, recognize the importance of building the school community and helping teachers and parents to promote reading skills. Family Reading Night has been a successful outreach for Target, reaching over four million families.
School Family Media’s Tracy Roberts spoke with me about the importance of parental involvement in a child’s education. She says, “Parental involvement leads to improved academic performance,” as supported by this paper from the Harvard Family Research Project. It’s helpful for children to see their parents at the school to reinforce the sense of community.
Target’s Family Reading Night is just one example of a successful approach to connecting with Mom and her child through reading. This is a well-established strategy. But what about math? There are few, if any, national brands reaching out to Mom with math programs. Are there marketing opportunities there?
Dr. Joyce Epstein, Professor with the School of Education at John Hopkins University, and Founder and Director of National Network of Partnership Schools says:
“As far back as 20 years ago, schools and teachers have always felt more comfortable about engaging parents in reading activities. Starting with the nursery, there are more resources to support reading. Currently, over 90% of parents don’t know how to help promote math skills. That’s why we selected middle and elementary school math as the first focus area when we started TIPS, a program which helps teachers involve parents.”
The lack of parental involvement in math education is a miss, and seems to suggest we have a cultural bias against math and a lack of comfort with math skills. Perennially, it’s reported that schoolchildren in the United States are more proficient at reading than math. For instance, a 2011 study by Harvard‘s Program on Education Policy and Governance revealed that America’s schoolchildren rank 17 in the world for reading proficiency but only 32 in the world in math proficiency. Concurrently, the global marketplace is becoming more math and science-oriented, rewarding those with careers in technology, science, medicine and related fields.
Some schools are working with companies on a local basis to support math. Dr. Epstein mentions, “Some schools do clever things with companies like a math night at a local level with Lowe’s or Home Depot. This gets both moms and dads involved and is fun to do. ”
This is a good start, but given the bias towards reading, it leaves a large remainingopportunity for brands to support math education through a variety of methods, including a school math night. This lapse represents national marketing strategy opportunities for brands to take the initiative in reaching families. An example program for a food brand could utilize recipes to reinforce fractions and other math skills by doubling the recipe.
Brands that can align with math education through sponsorships and partnerships are poised to capture Mom’s attention as the demand for math and science skills in the marketplace becomes ever more apparent. Don’t miss this next big marketing strategy opportunity. Brands that can help Mom and Dad make math fun and easier to understand will have just as much success as brands currently sponsoring programs for reading.