by Patrick Figurski
Summer is fast approaching and you’re thinking about taking advantage of the time off to focus on getting some math help for your child. With so many programs out there, how do you determine which one is best? Here are a few items to look at when narrowing down the list.
- Does the program administer a comprehensive assessment to determine exactly where your child needs help? Can they establish if they are behind and have conceptual gaps, or are positioned to work ahead? If your child does have gaps, can they pinpoint them exactly? Do they use both oral and written approaches to make this determination? Written assessments alone can be misleading because students may not always perform their best in this environment. Oral discussions can help relax the student and can be very helpful in probing into what they know, don’t know, or where they have discomfort. A combination of an oral and written assessment is the most effective approach.
- Is the program realistic for the time you have available during the summer? Obviously, the more time you invest the better, but due to vacations, camps, etc. it’s not always an option. Resolving math deficiencies takes time. Be wary of a program that claims to solve all your child’s problems in a few sessions. A good program will be able to give you reasonable expectations for the time commitments you’re willing to provide. Even reduced time is better than none, but they should be able to give you a plausible idea of what will be accomplished for the time selected.
- Is the material individualized or will it be presented in a group setting? The best programs have individualized work plans created from a thorough assessment. Personal interaction with the student is critical to achieve understanding of the concepts. However, be wary of programs that “over teach” and don’t encourage the student to work through problems on their own. A good balance of personalized instruction and student practice is important to reinforce their learning so that critical thinking becomes cemented it into their subconscious.
- Is it flexible enough to fit your schedule? If you are unable to work around your fun-filled summer activities, then it’s less likely your child or even you will be looking forward to attending. Not being able fulfill the agreed upon schedule will result in a disappointing experience. Look for those programs that will be able to consider your time availability and develop a customized attendance plan.
- Finally, math doesn’t have to be drudgery. Typically, students avoid math because they have difficulty understanding it. Besides making sure the material is at the correct level for that student, it’s important to have a curriculum that focuses on understanding math rather than just memorizing. This will lead to a lot more “aha’s” which will translate into confidence and even enjoyment.
These are some of the key points to consider when looking to ensure a successful summer math experience. If you ask the right questions, you should be able to determine if a specific program is the right one for your child and your situation. Getting your child on the right path as soon as possible will make sure they are ready to tackle the future technical world with ease.
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