Mathnasium makes math make sense for kids, scores high with parents
Can you imagine your child in an excited rush to get to math class? Probably not. That is unless they are attending sessions at the Mathnasium of Ann Arbor Math Learning Center, located at 2111 Packard Rd. in Ann Arbor. This is a place kids can’t wait to get to, and it is no wonder.
Mathnasium looks like a blast from the minute you walk in the door – cool drawings all over the walls, and a staff that can’t wait to greet students. The entryway has an entire shelf filled with binders that students have decorated themselves, and which hold the results of their math success.
The successes are many, whether with kids who are really struggling, kids who just love math, or even really young kids who are getting their first taste of what math is all about. The secret is called Number Sense, and it is Mathnasium’s way of coupling process and interaction with concepts and skills, all presented in a fun way that makes a lot of sense.
“Every student starts with an assessment test so we can see where they are strong, and where the gaps are,” said center co-owner and director Vera Chiu. One of the basic principles at Mathnasium is to understand exactly what students need, so their time isn’t wasted on things they already know.
“This is very specific,” Chiu said. “For example, if a student has trouble with borrowing in subtraction, but only with borrowing across zeroes, then we only work on borrowing across zeroes.” Post tests are given as well, so students and parents can really see progress being made.
Mathnasium of Ann Arbor has been open for about a year, and already the testimonials and successful results are piling in. There are parents who see their kids completely caught up at school, no longer complaining about doing their math homework. Some kids who hated math are now calling it their favorite subject.
One parent said, “I'm not sure what the magic is, but I never thought my son would be happy to go work on math for an hour at a time at the end of a long school day!”
Part of the success is the approach to math as a different language. “We explain the meaning behind the vocabulary so kids don’t have to be afraid of it,” Chiu said. “Take the word “percent” for instance. It means ‘for each 100’. Most kids are used to learning by repetition, but something as simple as an explanation helps kids approach problems differently.”
Created by Larry Martinek, a US math educator with 30+ years of teaching experience, the Mathnasium Method is based on three principals. First, it adapts to the individual’s needs, with tailor-made learning plans for each student. Second, they teach math concepts using a variety of oral, visual, and mental methods to make math understandable as well as engaging and fun for kids. Finally, it provides an environment that encourages exploration, discovery and creativity. Students of all ages found the curriculum to be incredibly powerful and engaging, and Mathnasium centers have sprung up across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
“Math is all around us in the world, " Chiu said. “We want to show the kids how beautiful math is.”
Because of the one-on-one model, there is no right or wrong time to enroll. The main program is offered for students in 2nd through 12th grades, and there is a First Steps program for kids in Pre-K through 1st grade. Sessions are usually twice per week. Each visit lasts one hour.
There will also be summer camps available this year, and the center is often found at school, library and community events.
For the month of February, kids get a free initial assessment and free lessons for two weeks. If you “like” the Mathnasium Facebook page, you can score an additional $25 off for new enrollees. Check out their website at www.mathnasium.com/annarbor, or call (734) 769-5666.