Mathnasium Program: Why it works!

Mar 17, 2022 | Red Deer

Real learning produces a sense of confidence. Let’s learn why Mathnasium Method works!


Number Sense: The Key to Success in Math

What is number sense? It is "the ability to appreciate the size and scale of numbers in the context of the question at hand". In essence, it’s the understanding of what numbers mean, how they work together and how they connect to real life. It’s critical that children have a firm grasp of number sense, because it underlies all mathematical comprehension and ability. Typical math tutoring does not teach number sense, acting as a bandage rather than a cure for the problem.


Foundations of Number Sense

Problem solving skills, the centre piece of modern mathematics education, have their roots in the Number Sense that comes from the study of traditional arithmetic.

Calculators and computers have taken much of the drudgery out of math, but they cannot replace the number sense that is learned in the process of mastering many of the fundamental concepts, facts and skills of basic arithmetic.

Number Sense is an integral component of everyone’s “mathematical toolkit”. It complements and supplements all aspects of mathematical education.

A person can be said to have basic Number Sense when they can *)

  • Count from any number, to any number, by any number
  • Split a number into any number of parts
  • Compare any two numbers by subtraction and division
  • Use all of the above and the idea that “the whole is equal to the sum of its parts” to solve non-routine problems, and
  • Determine the reasonableness of their answers.

*) for grade-level appropriate numbers

The Mathnasium Program was built so that our mathletes have a solid sense of numbers which will help them in the classroom and beyond.


The Mathnasium Program

The Mathnasium Method has evolved from 30 years of Larry Martinek’s teaching in public and private schools, and 19 years of parenthood. He saw that the traditional sequence and emphasis of teaching math often do not produce growth in students’ math ability. After seeing how children learn math, from the perspective of both a teacher and a parent, he decided to shuffle the order and emphasis of topics in the early years of math education.

It is possible to avoid having mathematics reduced to a seemingly endless repetition of addition facts and times tables. The Mathnasium Method focuses on first teaching children the key concepts and skills of mathematics orally, and then transferring this knowledge to the written page.

Mathnasium Question Forms. There are not a million different things to learn about math. In fact, there are only a few. Larry developed a set of forms that are:

  • Critical to success in math
  • Learnable, with proper instructions, by virtually all children and adults, beginning with children as young as five years old.

The forms provide a consistent curriculum structure for basic mathematics education. They sometimes act as skill builders, other times as image builders, many times as both. Some examples of the question forms:

  • Subtraction:
    • How far apart is 7 from 10?
    • 7 and how much more makes 10?
    • 76 and how much more makes 100?
  • Division: how many 5s in 35?
  • Ratio: ___ is what part of ___ ?

The forms are used consistently throughout the curriculum, to fill in the blanks changing as the student’s math knowledge grows and matures; this will provide an opportunity to model correct thinking for students. This framework has proven very effective in helping children and adults achieve a solid sense of numbers.

The need for memorizing Number Facts is therefore minimized because they are learned from experience and the ability to figure things out makes most number facts available on a moment’s notice.

When we pointed out their past assessment a few months back when they couldn’t do a math problem and now they can do it easily, often a student reaction was: “when did I learn this?”


Mathnasium of Red Deer is your neighbourhood’s math-only learning centre, and we are here to help your child. Our centre director, Riwan, and the whole team, would be happy to meet you! We are conveniently located in the shopping destination area in Red Deer: 5250 22nd St, Unit 30 B – at the Gaetz Avenue Crossing shopping centre, in the same area as Chapters Indigo/Starbucks, Michael Arts, Petland and Ashley, and the phone number is 403-872 MATH (6284). 

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