Mathnasium Learning Center Director Susan LaPointe creates a personalized plan to help each student excel at math.
Math is one of those subjects that students either get or they do not. Math does not have to be intimidating. Once children can unlock the basics, they can excel, and even enjoy math. However, the key to unlocking that understanding is in the way the information is presented.
Susan LaPointe owns and operates Mathnasium Learning Center in Winter Garden with her husband, Emile.
“When we were looking for a business opportunity, I came across Mathnasium,” Susan said. “Once I reviewed the curriculum and the methods used to teach math, I was sold.”
During her eight years teaching middle school-level math, Susan, who is certified to teach math for grades six through 12, saw firsthand how students struggled with the subject.“This method is exactly how I would like to teach math, so I was really excited,” Susan said.“In my profession, I heard over and over about how much kids hate math. But it is not that they actually hate it, they are just frustrated and intimidated by it. Calculators have taken away, to an extent, the ability of our kids to understand how numbers work together. We don’t use calculators in our curriculum; we teach how to do mental math.“This method is so good about breaking down math and making it make sense.”The naming of the learning center was meant as a deliberate analogy. Just as people go to a gymnasium to exercise their bodies and become stronger, students go to Mathnasium to do the same for their brain and math skills.“We hear the statistics of how math skills in America are dropping from year to year, and my biggest fear is where are the next generation of engineers and problem-solvers going to come from,” said Emile, who contended that even though they are running a business, they also see Mathnasium as a way to improve the community. “Math teaches problem-solving.”What sets Mathnasium apart from other learning centers is that it specializes in just math and they help children catch up, keep up, as well as get ahead in their math classes. The center uses a time-tested method known as “number sense,” which was developed by Larry Martinek, a seasoned and acclaimed math teacher in Los Angeles. Since then, the method has been employed in both public and private schools, as well as privately tutored students, with great results.Participants, who range from grades two through 12, can enroll in a three-, six-, or 12-month program. A monthly fee entitles students to attend as many sessions as they would like. A registration fee and one-time assessment fee are also required at enrollment.A special two-month option is offered during the summer break for students who want to either get a head start for the upcoming school year or help retain what they have already learned. Emile cited a The Johns Hopkins University study, which indicated that during the summer, many students lose 2 to 2 1/2 months of math-computation skills they learned during the school year.Initially, all students complete a two-part assessment that consists of written and oral portions. The written section identifies the student’s strengths and weaknesses with grade-level material; the oral assessment is designed to uncover their depth of understanding of key mathematical concepts.Once new students are evaluated, a personalized plan is created to focus on the areas of their deficiencies. During their sessions, students are able to break down the basics of math and abstract concepts using interaction, visuals, worksheets and guided instruction.Geometric shapes; calculation of distance, perimeter, area and volume; proportional thinking, such as ratio, percentage rate and variation; statistics and probability; problem-solving and critical-thinking skills; and a grasp of mathematical vocabulary are examples of material that is covered. The center also teaches algebra, geometry, calculus and other higher math. In addition to teaching Mathnasium’s proprietary curriculum, instructors offer homework help.“We really work on teaching the students to work on their own,” Susan said. “We don’t want them to be dependent on the teacher; we want them to become self-thinkers.”Instructors use a teach-and-move-on technique, where they explain the concept and then let the students work out the problems on their own. The teachers always check back within five minutes to answer questions and further explain concepts that the student is having difficulty grasping.Mathnasium Learning Center uses a punch-card reward system that allows students to accumulate “punches” for every completed worksheet. As an additional incentive, students who complete a worksheet without help receive double the reward.The student’s progress is monitored, and periodic reports are given to parents. Parents also may request communication between the school and Mathnasium Learning Center staff.It is the LaPointes’ goal to partner with as many schools as possible.“We are happy to go into the schools and conduct free math nights,” Susan said. “And we will participate in silent auctions and fundraisers.”“We also want to work with the schools to offer scholarships to students in need of math help [who] can’t afford the service,” Emile said. “We will leave this up to the discretion of the guidance counselors.“The skills and confidence the students receive from mastering math translates into other areas, because they are able to problem-solve and practice critical-thinking.”“It is so much fun to see these kids become excited about math,” Susan added.
13848 Tilden Road in Winter Garden, will open May 2012. Operating hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 3-7 p.m.; Wednesday from 2-7 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call 321-236-2842 or visit www.mathnasium.com on the Web.
Kearney Publishing Corp.7901 Kingspointe Parkway, Suite 28Orlando, FL 32819407.351.1573 | Fax number: 407.363.3954
Kearney Publishing Corp.