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Students building math skills, self-confidence at new Rockwall Mathnasium franchise

By J.J. Smith. Before Ouida Springer third grade student Nicolas Shirley began receiving math tutoring at the new Mathnasium Rockwall-Heath franchise, the eight-year-old was struggling with arithmetic. Even with private tutoring he was falling behind, said his father, Aaron Shirley.

But just two weeks after he started attending Mathnasium, an after-school and summer-long math learning center where pre-K through 12th grade students go to boost their math skills and confidence in a fun atmosphere, Shirley said he and his wife, Mary, began to notice a big difference.

“His math scores at school were rising. His self-confidence was increasing. Even his grades in other subjects were improving.”

“He hasn’t always enjoyed studying but now he has a new attitude.”

“His last report card showed marked improvement. He went from a C to a B in math.”

Even Nicolas’ teacher, Emily Carlton, said she has noticed a big improvement.

“I see improvement in not only mathmatics, but also in attitude since working with Mathnasium,” she said. “The one-on-one support has truly benefited Nicolas.”

“The one-on-one tutor/school connection and the instant feedback from both his teacher and his tutor is helping to close those gaps in his learning.”

“We strive to partner with the student’s teachers,” explained Mathnasium co-owner Becky Barnes.   “The communication and feedback between our tutors and Nicolas’s teacher is helping to close the gaps in his learning.”

At the learning center, his father said Nicolas gets the opportunity to succeed.

“He really enjoys coming here. They play math games and have fun while learning. He’s thriving from the one-on-one attention.”

“They even sit with and include his little brother, Matthew, who also enjoys coming.”

According to co-owner Elizabeth Lyons, who has 20 years of teaching experience, Mathnasium is a unique kind of learning center which provides pre and post math testing plus individual tutoring designed to significantly increase children’s math skills, while building confidence and positive attitude toward the subject.

The program is the result of 30 years of hands-on experience with thousands of children and is the life’s work of the company’s Chief Instructional Officer, Larry Martinek, a teacher and math teaching consultant in the Los Angeles area.

“Children don’t hate math,” says Martinek. “They hate being confused and intimidated by math. With understanding comes passion. And with passion  come growth – a treasure is unlocked.”

Approved by the Texas Dept. of Education and numerous other states, there are 197 Mathnasium centers in the U.S. and over 30 in 15 other countries. Highly specialized, they teach only math.

Martinek says the key to understanding math is the concept of “Number Sense.”

“Number Sense does not develop by accident. It is the result of a process of encounter and interaction with a specific set of concepts and skills presented in a way that makes sense to the learner.”

Independent studies performed over the past three years by EyeCues Education Systems found Mathnasium ‘to be effective almost 100 percent of the time, with 20 sessions or less, increasing student performance on standard based tests.  Student skills improved by at least a grade level in most cases.

Members pay a monthly membership fee, and usually attend for about an hour two or three times per week.

“Mathnasium is a unique learning center where our instructors begin by getting to know each student through oral and written testing,” explained co-owner David Lyons, a former corporate executive with Comerica Bank for 19 years.

“Students receive not just homework guidance, but also undergo an assessment to determine their current skill level. From there, a customized program is created to bridge any skills gaps and build fluency with numbers.”

“Our approach is to determine what a student knows and does not know, and then tailor a personalized   learning program. The goal is to significantly increase a child’s math skills, understanding of math concepts, and overall school performance,” he said.

“Instruction is provided directly by teachers who are rigorously trained in our enormously successful methodology,” said Mrs. Lyons.

“Your student will practice using highly prescriptive worksheets under direct supervision, in addition to exercises to develop problem solving and mathematical thinking skill. The learning materials are designed to be challenging and engaging, unlike some traditional methods which can be frustratingly difficult.”

Co-owners Becky and Bob Barnes said they also want to make the learning a fun experience.

“We also make sure the environment is fun, by using lots of games and puzzles,” said Mrs. Barnes, who has over 25 years experience in accounting and teaching. “It also provides an understanding of math concepts and overall school performance, while building confidence and forging a positive attitude.”

After developing a clear picture of each student’s strengths and weaknesses, Mr. Barnes said they tailor a personalized program for each student, “because no two students are alike.”

“Filled with illustrations and puzzles that engage all the senses, these exercises map a road to success by developing attention skills along-side basic math concepts.”

“The result is a deep understanding of the subject and problem solving becomes second nature.”

“Mathnasium students are thinking mathematicians building a lifelong love of math in a fun, nurturing environment that emphasizes individual attention and self-esteem,” he added.

Compared with a traditional tutor, the Barnes said Mathnasium is far more beneficial for several reasons.

“First, our instructors are trained in a method with extensive qualitative and quantitative data which prove beyond a doubt that their math tutoring system improves student performance,” he said.

“Extensive oral and written assessments provide a three-dimensional picture of each child. Pre and post testing, performance charts, and personalized detailed progress reports measure each student’s rate of success.”

“Our math tutors are available Monday-Thursday and Saturday, when it’s convenient for you, as opposed to when it’s convenient for a tutor,” said Mrs. Barnes.

“Much more than homework help is offered. Our tutors don’t just alleviate the symptom with tonight’s homework problems. We bridge the gaps in understanding that created the difficulties in the first place.”

“It’s also very affordable”, she said. “Mathnasium charges about half the price of what many private tutors and programs in the area cost.”

Chloe Hail, a fifth grade student at Pullen Elementary in Rockwall, who is enrolled at the Center said she really enjoys her visits.

“I love Mathnasium!” she said. “The teachers are all nice and they help me learn more math. When I am working on math at school, I always think of my saying, ‘There are a lot of numbers in math, just try to work them out!”

“They are all an amazing group of people and always come up with different, new, and fun ways to learn math! I highly recommend this wonderful program!” said Rockwall High School student Sara Cuzick.

“Children need to be taught math in a way that makes sense to them. That’s what we do here,” said Barnes.

Mathnasium is now accepting students for year-round and summer programs. It  is located in the Rockwall Crossing Shopping Center at 919 E. I-30, next to the Cotton Patch restaurant. For more information, call 972-722-6000 or visit www.mathnasium.com.

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