Many kids struggle with maths at school and at some point parents may contemplate hiring a maths tutor for their child. An alterative to a private tutor, Mathnasium study centres are opening across London, including a new one in Fulham this week. Our writer visited a branch to find out more…
By Jennifer Barton
London is a city where tutors abound, so you’re certain to find one to suit your child, depending on your location, their age and their educational needs. If they need extra support with maths you could go the private tutor route. Or, you could opt for Mathnasium, the new subscription-style maths learning centres emerging across London. Mathnasium aims to engage and encourage children in a way that they don’t become reliant on one specific person to succeed.
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Mathnasium study centres were founded in the United States by an LA-based maths educator called Larry Martinek. The approach helps children build confidence and mastery in mathematics using visual, written, mental and oral methods, and encourages the development of number sense, helping children make the connection between various number relationships so they begin to understand them intuitively.
While the Mathnasium ethos is “we make maths make sense,” take a quick look around one of the Mathnasium centres operating in London (you’ll find them everywhere from Clapham to Crouch End, to the brand new Fulham branch), and you’ll see that they do more than that: they make maths fun. Children are working hard at their papers, but they’re also smiling away. We’d like to stress again that they’re smiling, happy and enjoying themselves in a maths centre. Kumon, this isn’t.
Before joining, children undertake a customised assessment which reveals any weaknesses or gaps in their knowledge, and instructors come up with a custom learning plan catering to each child’s specific needs – children are working on a few different concepts simultaneously, but don’t move further ahead without being assessed again, to ensure a thorough understanding of what they’ve just learned (casual assessments are a regular part of the process).
There is always an instructor on hand – depending on when you come in the week, the centre might be busier or less hectic (the busiest times tend to be immediately after school), with a combination of 1:1 instruction and independent work on concepts.
Kids also do all of the work in the centres and can even bring in homework they want to work on to spend 20 minutes of their one-hour session doing. Not only is this a bonus because you don’t need to keep track of yet another binder, but you can also spend time with your kids at home doing something other than… begging them to do their maths.
Unlike typical tutoring, which usually involves a lesson per week and homework, Mathnasium is a subscription service – kids are required to attend a minimum of twice a week but can come as often as they like.
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You subscribe for a six-month period, or you can pay a bit extra to do a month-to-month service – again, this works well if your child needs some revision help before an important exam for a few months. It’s not cheap – subscriptions start at around £300+ a month, with a discount for siblings – but can work out to around £30 a session depending on how many times your child attends in the period. Think of it as a gym, but one that your child will be eager to go to: you don’t need to book ahead and can drop into whenever you like.
While everyone can agree the most exciting part of the experience is the confidence and competence that comes from mastering the subject, for the kids, there’s an added benefit: kids earn star rewards which can be saved up and redeemed for prizes from the prize cabinet. You’ll find the most coveted items, from LOL Surprise dolls to to Nerf Guns and tech gadgets like Fitbits. Kids can spend their star rewards straightaway to bag the cheap stuff… or quickly learn another useful maths skill: that with a bit of discipline and savings savvy, the best is yet to come.