Frequently Asked Questions

Jan 23, 2018 | Cambridge

How long will it take before my child is back on track?

This is a great question! None of us like to see our children suffer and struggle with something - especially when it affects their self-esteem and other areas of their lives. Unfortunately, how long your child will need to come to Mathnasium depends on many factors including: If they have gaps in their mathematical foundation or not; how deep or wide those gaps are; what their current grade in school is; what your and their goals are for math; what their homework load looks like and what is their work ethic and motivation level to name a few.

As a general guide, we can tell you from experience that most students in the elementary grades who are 1-2 years behind in their skills and who come into the center at least twice per week will need 8-12 months of consistent effort to bring their understanding and mastery of math up to grade level. Middle school and high school students who are failing (or have failed) Algebra will need at least 4-6 months of DAILY work (6-12 months at twice per week) to bring their skills and understanding up enough to get B's or A's in their class (assuming they are turning in their homework and doing what is required of them in class).  Students who come in inconsistently or who work very slowly or resist doing their work, will take even longer. Don't delay! The sooner you get your child help with math, the better it is for everyone!


Why do children struggle with math?

Have you ever watched a foreign film without subtitles? You can usually get a good idea of what is going on, but do you really understand the point of the movie?  If a student is missing key foundational math skills, it makes it very difficult to keep up in class. They feel confused and frustrated...much the same way you felt while watching that foreign-language movie and not understanding the language.

Most schools treat kids the same because it is assumed that all kids learn the same way and at the same rate. The teachers are expected to cover vast amounts of material in a short period of time, not to mention CMAS or PARCC testing. If your child doesn't master a skill for whatever reason – they missed some days due to illness, injury or travel, they were pushed ahead too quickly and skipped a grade, they had stressful life circumstances such as a death in the family or a divorce, etc. - that's too bad. Teachers must move quickly to stay “on schedule". As a result, we see many kids fall behind in math. 

What happens next?   The class moves on! Here come multiplication facts, fractions, percentages, decimals, mixed numbers, exponents, ratios, x=?, divisibility rules, algebra, geometry, equations. It never slows down so your child can catch up! They feel overwhelmed, embarrassed, and all alone! They begin to expect and accept failure as the "new normal" and think "I'm just not good in math!" They lose all confidence in themselves and all of their other grades begin to suffer.

Is it any wonder why you have to fight with them to do their homework? With many kids, it is easier for them to fight you and not do the work than to put the effort into it only to see failure again. After a while, it just doesn't seem worth the effort for them. 


My child gets good grades - can they really have gaps?!

Unfortunately, yes! Even students who have high marks in class, may not have a firm understanding of the concepts they are studying. They may be like our center director, Suzie Shride, who got straight A's in math all the way through college calculus because she understood patterns and could memorize the algorithms and follow them. She really didn't understand what was behind the formulas until she started teaching math, and particularly, when she got trained in the Mathnasium method.

So . . . ? Why should my child come in, if they are getting good grades in math. Do they really need to understand what's going on? Yes (and no)! Because math builds upon prior knowledge and understanding, your child who gets good grades in elementary school may suddenly start failing in Algebra or higher math classes because of this lack of understanding. Or, their lack of understanding may result in a secret harboring of feelings of inadequacy you may not learn about until they decide to forego a STEM career for a less mathematically demanding one even though they have a natural aptitude for it.


Won't a private one-on-one tutor work?

Unfortunately, in most cases a private tutor is a temporary fix for a long term problem. Private tutors only help children "survive" tonight's homework, but they don't address underlying issues. In most cases, private tutoring is not going to be a meaningful long term solution. Your child deserves to have that long-term impact in their math education!




How is Mathnasium different?

Great Question! The very first thing we do is give your child an in-depth, diagnostic math assessment. We give them both a written and oral assessment so that we can get a deep understanding of not only what they know, but how they think! We sit down with them, put them at ease, and give them an assessment that doesn't feel too easy or too hard. Most importantly, we find out HOW THEY LEARN! Then we build their trust by giving them a few ideas and strategies that they can use immediately - right there during the assessment! After scoring their assessment and discussing goals with the parents, we build a customized learning plan that targets skill gaps and quickly shows them success. In many cases “success” in math is something they have been craving! 


If this what you want for your child - It's easy to get started!
Call 519-623-6668!


Let's schedule a Free one-week Trial lesson
and an in-depth, free Math Assessment!



Why is confidence in math important?

It's not just important: It's critical! Kids need to see that they can do the work so that they can feel confident! This fresh, new confidence will spill over to many other areas of your child's life. At this point you will start to see peace at home! You won't be having to fight with them to do homework. Not only will they have the confidence and the skills to attack it but they'll start bringing home better grades from school. How do we know this? Because we have seen it over and over again with hundreds of students!


So . . . is this one-on-one tutoring?

Another great question! Our instructors are not just average math tutors. We have brilliant, engaging, inspiring math experts who work one on one with your child long enough to get them started and make sure they understand what to do. They instruct, model and watch your child do some problems. Then the instructor steps back and lets your child work independently to give them the time to process this new information without the pressure and stress of being watched.  This method not only helps students retain what they have learned and builds confidence, it also prevents a "learned helplessness" where the student feels that they need the instructor sitting in front of them all the time in order to be successful.

Our instructors quickly come back after a couple of minutes in order to make sure the child is doing the problems correctly, give them encouragement, and praise them for their efforts! If the student needs more help we simply teach the lesson again in a different way without judgment or ridicule until they "get it." This enables your child to become a "confident, independent learner." Check out our Team Page for our staff bios and learn more about the passionate mathematicians who work at Mathnasium of Cambridge!


If this what you want for your child - It's easy to get started!
Call 519-623-6668!


Let's schedule a Free one-week Trial lesson and an indepth, free Math Assessment!


How often should my child attend Mathnasium?

This really depends on the results of the student’s initial assessment, the child and parent’s goals, and the time of year they are attending. Progress in addressing gaps and weaknesses is made more slowly during the school year as we spend part of each session helping students make sense of their current homework and upcoming tests. The larger a student’s learning plan is, the more time they need to address gaps and weaknesses. The more ambitious the goals are, again the more time that is needed to see progress, and finally, the higher the math level the student is currently taking, the more time is needed. At a minimum, we recommend at least 2 sessions per week for consistency and to see some progress, and at that pace, during the school year, most students will need to attend for 8-12 months. To speed up progress, daily attendance is highly suggested.

Can my child stay longer than one hour?

Longer is not necessarily better. Longer sessions, particularly for younger students, leave them burned out and dreading their Mathnasium visit (especially after a full day at school).


How does the whole process work?

A student begins with an initial assessment, or snapshot, showing us concepts they “get” and topics, skills and concepts they struggle with or don’t understand at all. From this initial assessment, we create a completely customized Learning Plan specifically for each individual child. Learning Plans can have anywhere from 25-50 topic packets, or PK’s, averaging 10 worksheets each. We print these packets in groups of ten to place in the student binder, and each student normally has three topics they can choose to work on during a given session. These packets are derived directly from the initial assessment results and specifically address the skills gaps the child has which are causing frustration and confusion and which are holding them back in math class. The binder also contains a WorkOut Book which has additional pages of work that may more specifically relate to and support the child’s current school work.

At the end of every day, our instructors complete a Daily Tracking Record for each student who attended a Mathnasium session that day. They comment on what the homework topic was, how much time was spent on homework, what subjects the Mathnasium binder covered, how many pages were completed, if any Mastery Checks were taken and they give some general comments about how the student’s session went.

After completing 5 Packets (or about once per month), the student should bring home a written progress report that contains: Commentary with number of sessions attended, child’s focus level and a copy of the current Learning Plan; completed Game Plans from the period (showing student daily goals & achievement, time at the center, and some notes), and completed Mastery Checks from the period.

After completing 10 packet’s, a student will take a partial post assessment. This is a re-print of the questions missed on the initial assessment. The student is only required to answer the questions that are highlighted (those are the topics we have covered over the past several sessions) and our goal is for them to get most, if not all, of those questions correct. If they miss any, we check for understanding (sometimes they are missed due to careless errors). If the child understands the concept, we will move on. If they do not, we will re-teach it in a different manner. Our goal is understanding & mastery of the concepts we teach. The student is welcome to answer any of the questions on the partial post assessment. They are rewarded with additional stamps on their reward card for each correct answer and that packet is pulled from their learning plan. If they miss a non-highlighted question, it is not a big deal because that material is already in their learning plan to be studied.

This process is repeated for every 5 and 10 packet’s until a student completes their Learning Plan. At that  time, we will give them a full post assessment to verify they have retained the concepts we have taught them. We can then create a comparison chart to show their progress. Our goal is for a minimum of 30 point improvement in their post assessment score compared to their initial assessment score. Often we see even greater improvement.

Since most students have gaps dating back 1, 2 or more years, the process then repeats. We give the child the pre-assessment at the next level and build a new Learning Plan and binder. Typically, the second and subsequent Learning Plans are significantly shorter than the initial Learning Plan because we have filled in a number of essential basic skills.


Why do you reward students? Shouldn't they have intrinsic or self-motivation?

 In an ideal situation, yes, all students (and people in general) would have sufficient self-motivation to get them through life's tough spots! However, we all know it is difficult to have motivation when you feel defeated or unsuccessful about something. Many children who come to our center, experience just that . . . feelings of defeat, shame and lack of success around math. That is why some of them come in "hating" math. Our founder, Larry Martinek, says that children don't hate math, they hate feeling confused, frustrated, ashamed and the whole host of negative feelings associated with math. That is why we congratulate, applaud and celebrate each child's small victories and successes in math. We want them to start associating math with good, positive feelings. Althletes get to experience that sensation of success when the crowd cheers for them. How often to math students get that recognition? Daily at Mathnasium of Cambridge! Sometimes, all it takes is some small successes and little bit of external rewards and praise for a child's attitude about math to change and for their confidence in their own abilities to start to grow.