Mathnasium Vs Competitors (From Kids Who've Tried Both)

Dec 24, 2021 | Cary Park


As an ex-public school math teacher of 7 years, I can say firsthand that any math program that is able to meet individual students at their level and build from there complements the standard classroom setting in a much-needed way. 

While Competitors and Mathnasium both individualize math learning, there are a few major differences we’ll highlight via interviews/write ups from those who have experienced both programs firsthand:

Frequency.  Competing math programs have math students attend approximately twice per week for thirty minutes each time, equal to one hour per week total.  Mathnasium students attend 2 or more times per week for at least an hour each visit, averaging 3 hours per week total.

Instructors.  Competing math programs do not offer individual tutoring/instruction.  They often just hire graders, not instructors.  Mathnasium offers one-on-one instruction for K-12 students and relies heavily on qualified instructors to ensure success for our students. Katherine Nyugen (a student of both programs) reflected,

    “Mathnasium staff is more knowledgeable than a lot of competing program's staff about the material the students are learning. When I was doing Mathnasium, the tutors knew all the stuff I was asking about. But when I was doing a competing program, no one could help me understand calculus or trigonometry, despite the fact that they had all already finished high school.”

Teaching Method. ← (Biggest Difference!) There is no overstating it, competing programs emphasize repetition, repetition, repetition!  Practice is drilled via thousands of worksheets.  They tout dedication, focus, and may I repeat: repetition!  Contrastingly, Mathnasium focuses on the “why” behind the answer--on building students’ critical thinking skills and promoting “lightbulb moments”.  The Mathnasium Method replaces rote memorization with deep understanding.

Evan’s unique experiences with both learning styles make his insight invaluable.  He shares,

I might go as far as to say that the goal of any math tutoring program is to foster a greater math ability. With this goal in mind, I can offer the impartial opinion that Mathnasium is way better.  I was a (competing program) student for several years, and I taught at Mathnasium for one summer.

(Competing program) strives toward this goal by doing very repetitive exercises. Simple binary feedback is offered to inform a student if their answer is correct, if not, they give it another try. Repeat.

This is extremely ineffective for 2 reasons:

1. It is easy for a student to get frustrated, discouraged, and make no progress for the rest of that session and potentially, some considerable length of time after.

2. It does not teach understanding, only competence.

(Competing program) will give a student exercises until they demonstrate the capability to solve a certain type of problem using a certain algorithm or strategy. Here, it is possible for a student to learn an algorithm, but have no idea of what calculation they are actually doing.

Mathnasium does its best to steer clear of developing this bad habit. For example: the first time a student adds fractions, they might say that 1/2 + 1/3 is 2/5 by adding numerators and denominators. At (competing program), they would say no, tell them to add numerators, and give them another problem. At Mathnasium, they would immediately realize what the student had done and take a step back.

I was instructed to ask "what is an apple plus an apple?" they answer "2 apples." Then I'd say "what is a banana plus a banana? they answer "2 bananas." Then I'd say "but is a banana plus an apple 2 banapples? Of course not, that's because they are different things, different denominations. So when fractions have different denominators, we can't add them, because that would be adding two different things."

From here, because the student understands why we do something in a certain way rather than just the fact that that is how we do it, it is rare to see the error persist.

This difference in style places Mathnasium head and shoulders above (competing program).

Let’s get your child on the right track by bringing them into Mathnasium of Cary Park. We’re located at 10120 Green Level Church Road, Suite 214. Our Director, Ann Stengel, will be happy to meet with you and show you our facility, which has been helping kids with math for 12 years.

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