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This is a great question families, students and teachers ask us frequently. While it may seem counterintuitive, most of our mathletes are working on different math skills at Mathnasium than they’re working on at school. In fact, across the U.S., the typical mathlete is practicing skills from 1 to 3 grade levels below their current grade.
The first step in a mathlete’s Mathnasium journey is a detailed assessment. The assessment is designed to measure the student’s level of mastery of grade level skills, against educational standards. The results of the assessment make clear which skills the student has mastered and where he or she may have gaps.
Typically, even students who are doing well in math are missing some prerequisite skills for the topics they’re currently studying. This is true more than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. Those gaps are almost always contributing factors when a student struggles. Without the necessary background knowledge, it becomes more challenging to acquire the new learning they’re exposed to.
At Mathnasium, we get to address those gaps, and address them on an individual basis. Limited resources mean schools often don’t get to do that as thoroughly as they would like. It’s all part of the Mathnasium Method™ and has been successful for over 20 years and in 1100 Mathnasium centers around the world. That’s why the school-Mathnasium partnership is so powerful.
After the initial assessment, Mathnasium creates a learning plan specific to and customized for each child. That plan lists the topics where we’ll focus during Mathnasium sessions. With the guardian’s consent, we also reach out to the child’s teacher to share it. We ask the teacher to share with us any observations, assignments, areas needing practice, etc. so we can provide support there as well. During each mathlete’s sessions (2-3 times per week) then, we help the mathlete work through his or her plan. Where needed, that time includes helping the mathlete with homework, extra practice and/or quiz and test reviews for school.
Schools and teachers are asked to do so much, and for so many kids, this additional targeted support can make a big difference in helping individual students close specific gaps. Typically, when a student needs help with classwork (as most will), we spend 2/3 of the session working on Mathnasium curriculum. That time helps the students solidify the foundation on which they’ll build the learning happening in school. We spend the remainder of the session working with the students on classwork where they need help. The best-case scenario is one where students have already identified questions they can do on their own, and bring up just the ones they need help on.
Over time, students build confidence and skill, and it shows. Each session shrinks the distance between their current level of knowledge and the level required for their current grade. It is our honor to support the hard-working teachers, kids and families in our community this way.