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Continued: Making math count inside and outside of the classroom

  • Article by: ERIN ADLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 11, 2014 - 2:06 PM

The personal attention has really helped Lapsley, he said. At Mathnasium, “It’s more one-on-one type of stuff,” he said. “In school, it’s more ‘Pay attention to the white board or you’ll fall behind.’ ”

Fiegel said kids like coming to Mathnasium because they can work at their own pace, and because tutors keep things positive. There’s also no homework or grades, he said.

Many kids “develop the sense that they’re not good at math, and we try to turn that around,” Fiegel said. “Math can be fun — it doesn’t have to be drudgery or something that they hate.”

Checking in with teachers

At the Shakopee Mathnasium, customers pay a monthly membership fee of $200 to $300 and sign a six-month or one-year contract. Then, they can come as often as they want, though two or three times a week is recommended, Fiegel said.

Fiegel eventually wants to offer scholarships so more kids can afford to come, he said.

“I would not say that it’s cheap,” said Saarang Sudarshen, whose second-grade daughter has been coming to the Lakeville location for two weeks.

Sudarshen said his daughter was “a little bit challenged” with math. “She’s a bright kid; it’s just that sometimes she needs that extra push,” he said.

Fiegel said that when a new student signs up, he contacts their teacher to check in.

Aligning what kids are learning in class and what’s being covered in tutoring sessions increases the chances that tutoring will be successful, said Nancy Thul, director of teaching and learning for the Shakopee district.

“Results vary as much as different types of kids,” Thul said about outside tutoring.

With a wide variety of options available now, including free websites and online tutorials, she encourages parents to be aware of their choices, she said.

Mathnasium offers no guarantee, Szydlo said, and he’s seen instances where students don’t progress. But, “What I’ve always said is that if you show up and put in the work,” he said, “you’re going to get better.”

Erin Adler • 952-746-3283

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