By Steven Hoffman
As the name suggests, the focus at Mathnasium is on teaching math to students in a way that it makes sense to them. Instructors often work one-on-one with students to provide them with help in the specific areas where they need it. According to Vipul Bhatt, the benefits of the Mathnasium program add up to much more for students than simply helping them get caught up on math. Improving his or her understanding of math concepts can allow a student to improve across the curriculum.
“If you understand math,” Bhatt explained, “it teaches you analytical skills. You can do anything at that point. There’s no limit to how far they can go.”
Bhatt is the owner and director of the Mathnasium learning center in Glen Mills. He has seen firsthand how students gain confidence as their math skills improve at Mathnasium.
He explained, “The success that the students get from doing a problem and solving it teaches them to say, ‘Hey, I can do this. This is not as hard as I think it is.’”
Bhatt’s belief in the effectiveness of the Mathnasium program, which was developed over more than 30 years, comes from his family’s own experience when they enrolled their eldest daughter in a Mathnasium program in February of 2013. She was struggling a little bit in math, and the family didn’t want her to fall behind.
“Within six or seven weeks, we saw big changes in her,” Bhatt explained. “I noticed her ability to communicate improved. Her confidence really went up.”
Bhatt knew someone who had purchased a Mathnasium franchise, and as he found out more about the learning centers, which are located throughout the U.S. and in 16 other countries, he was interested in exploring the possibility of opening one. At the time, Bhatt was working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., and one of his favorite projects had been working with EPA staff, teachers, and students to help revise the agency’s web site so that it was as useful as possible for teachers and students. The family went out to Los Angeles on a trip and made a point to stop at the national headquarters of Mathnasium to learn more about it.
“We really liked it,” Bhatt said. “We really saw the difference that it made for our two kids.”
Bhatt opened the Mathnasium Learning Center in Glen Mills last October. He explained that for any prospective student, the first thing they do is conduct an assessment of the student’s math skills.
“We very specifically identify where they have gaps in the curriculum. Then we work to fill those gaps,” Bhatt said. “We can take the time to do one-on-one teaching. We can individually teach them what they need to know.”
Mathnasium instructors have access to more than 20,000 math worksheets. Because each student receives such individualized attention, the educators at Mathnasium might introduce several concepts during a one-hour session. The goal is to keep children engaged, interested, and motivated.
“Kids really thrive on that challenge,” Bhatt said. “What we have is an agile program that caters to kids of all levels.”
The key is the individualized attention that students receive at Mathnasium. At the Glen Mills center, there are currently 32 students who are enrolled. Bhatt has four instructors on staff to work with these students, with plans to hire more as enrollment grows.
To ensure the quality of the professional teaching at Mathnasium, instructors must pass a rigorous test before they can start working at the learning center They also go through the background checks that are required of all certified teachers.
The instructors utilize the Mathnasium method, helping students when they need it, but also allowing them to build their problem-solving skills.
“We teach them and then we let them do their work,” Bhatt explained. “We also help them with homework.”
Students are encouraged to visit Mathnasium at least two days a week, but families can fit the visits into their schedules. The Glen Mills center is currently open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Each child can come in when we are open,” Bhatt explained. “There’s a monthly subscription fee and the students can come in whenever we are open.”
The progress that students are making is measured every six or seven weeks.
Bhatt said that parents typically have a similar experience to the one his family had—the benefits are almost immediate and they are noticeable.
“Data shows significant progress takes place after about six months,” Bhatt explained.
He has already received positive feedback from the parents of students at the Glen Mills location.
“I’m not sure what you’re doing,” one father said to Bhatt, “but it’s working.”
Another parent told the director that their seventh-grader was not only doing better in math as a result of instruction at Mathnasium, but in science classes as well.
Students also like Mathnasium. In fact, several youngsters who previously disliked having to go to math classes have been so enthusiastic that they ask if they can stay longer at the Glen Mills center.
Bhatt is pleased but not surprised at the community’s response to Mathnasium. After all, he knew what the program did for his own children, so he is committed to helping other students build their confidence, improve their skills, and increase their interest in math.
For more information about Mathasium, visit www.mathnasium.com/glenmills or call 610-358-5555.