“I always joke the nine-month school year is really a seven-month school year,” says Sachin Gore, owner of Mathnasium in Stillwater. “Students spend September reviewing what they did before summer because what they did in May, they didn’t get a chance to do any follow-up with that over the summer.”
Math is all about practice, so it’s no surprise summer slippage is a big concern. “The thing with math particularly is it’s harder for parents to do with their kids, especially as they get older. A lot of parents aren’t as confident with math themselves. So, it’s one of those things that easily gets forgotten,” says Gore.
Luckily, there are easy ways to weave math into just everyday life. Gore says. “Things like when you go to the grocery store with your kids, have them try to estimate what the bill is going to add up to.”
Even a quick trip to the convenience store can be an engaging exercise; what’s that candybar and Gatorade going to add up to? Not challenging enough for your aspiring math wizard? Give them the cash and have them count back the change.
“Cooking is another great one,” Gore says. “Cooking is all about fractions; let’s halve this recipe, let’s double this one. You rarely have whole numbers with recipes, so it really helps teach kids fractions.” The key, Gore notes, is having some fun with it.
Once your student gets to the upper echelons of math, however, this kind of everyday usage becomes difficult. This is where a structured program may be the way to go. “Our staff does a good job of making it about camaraderie,” explains Gore. “[Students] may still not love doing the math, but they love interacting with our instructors.”
Gore says Mathnasium’s goal is when the kids come in—whether they’re gifted or struggling—they feel success every day.