Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. This month we have gotten to know Oscar Im. Oscar is the Owner of Mathnasium in Wauconda. Today we are going to learn more about what exactly Mathnasium is and if it’s right for your child.
Math sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s hard, it’s boring, it’s pointless! We all have computers in our pockets we don’t need to learn this stuff. However if you step back from your math bias and look at it from a life stand point, math might just be one of the most crucial life skills your children learn in school.
Think about it. If you can’t math cooking becomes harder, paying bills, managing your finances and time. While you may not be figuring out the area of a square how do you purchase rugs for your house? How do you determine how long to cook that Thanksgiving turkey? It all starts with math and as I learned from Oscar, numerical fluency.
Numerical fluency goes beyond knowing and recognizing numbers or memorizing the math facts. It’s about having an awareness of how numbers are related to each other so that you (and your child) understand how they get the answers. This is the core of Mathnasium’s philosophy and how they approach teaching math to kids that come from all different schools and systems.
How it works was my biggest question when I came in. I have taken lots of math through advance math in college. I don’t hate it and I have been known to do long division instead of whipping out my calculator just for the fun of it. I have a fifth grader and a seventh grader one performs perfectly at grade level and one is advanced. Since we don’t use the public school I was wondering, how could Mathnasium help our kids? Would they teach them a different way than the curriculum their school uses teaches? I know my husband and I struggle sometimes because they way we know how to approach a math problem is “not the way my teacher showed us”
According to Oscar Mathnasium uses a more holistic approach to aiding in math, going back to the numerical fluency, and they will promote multiple ways of learning the same problem. While they will work on school work and have that time set in their schedule (more on that below) their focus is on addressing and filling the foundation gap to help kids understand the basics which will translate until a better understanding of their current work.
I brought my two kids in for an assessment and lesson to get a feel for how a regular session at Mathnasium would work. Chad and his boys did the summer program and you can read about his experience here. I’m going to focus on the set-up/getting started with Mathnasium process.
Mathnasium is set up like a gym membership. Families pay a monthly fee and can come in any time they are open for a session or homework help. The first step in the process is for Oscar to meet the parents and children, both together and separately to get a sense of where the problem in math is. According to Oscar there is usually an underlying issue that is different from what the parents thought was the root cause of the issues with math.
After that Oscar will work with the children on an assessment, it starts verbally:
Then the assessment moves on to paper and pencil based on those answers. For parents who are skeptical of the modern connected classroom Mathnasium will offer a fresh sigh of relief. The only computers or digital devices you will see children using are the tablets they check in on. Everything else is paper and pencil, from the worksheets to the clocks everything is analog to work on that numerical fluency.
The full assessment takes about an hour.
After a child’s assessment is done a recommendation is made to the parent on what they recommend. Mathnasium starts working with children in second grade and the sessions break down as follows:
- Elementary – 60 minutes
- Middle School – 75 minutes
- High School 90 minutes
It’s recommended that all children come in at least 2 times a week, Oscar recommends 3 as the “sweet spot” where you see the most improvement without being overwhelmed. The center maintains a 3 or 4 to 1 ration of tutors to students and they all float around during open hours so your child will get to work with several different people during their time on site. Tutors vary from teachers in training or retired to advance high school students so students can really find the type of person they connect with to help them.
Each lesson time starts with a Workout Plan where the tutor and student sit down and figure out where they left off in the lesson plan, if they have homework etc. Each student then fills it out with the times of when they should be done with what section. Generally they spend about 15-20 minutes on the current lesson, then they move on to general concepts and homework. If there is time there are a variety of math-centric games (such as chess) that the child can use to play with their tutor.
Students earn stars for completion of the tasks and when there cards are full they can turn them in for spins of the prize wheel. This short video gives you a look inside the center and snippets of the assessment and a typical class.
Oscar is is offering $50 of the first month for Little Lake County Readers.
Disclosure: Mathnasium Wauconda, is our featured Business of the Month. This series is part of a paid promotion partnership with Little Lake County. All thoughts and opinions belong to the writer of the story. If you are interested in featuring your own locally-owned business in our series please contact the sales team.