Mathnasium of Olympia Fills in the Math Learning Gaps

Homework is seldom fun, for either the student or their parents. But one subject causes more foot-dragging, procrastination, and frustration than all the others combined: math. Whether it’s learning a new skill or brushing up on decades’ old memorization, numbers make our head spin.

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Mathnasium students love the program so much one even decorated the building. A sophomore at the time, Tumwater High School student Bailey Parker drew the now seasonally-decorated mural. Photo courtesy: Mathnasium.

Reports out of Stanford University explain that “Math anxiety can have serious, long-term consequences. Prior studies have shown that elementary school children who excel at math are more likely to succeed in high school, as well as later in life.” Their solution is both simple and available locally thanks to Mathnasium of Olympia, rewinding math and filling in the learning gaps.

“For years, psychologists have known that confronting your fears within a safe, supportive environment, guided by someone who is not at all afraid, is an effective way to surmount specific fears,” the research continues. “Similar methods have been used to cure arachnophobia, claustrophobia, and other anxiety disorders. This study suggests that math anxiety is no different—it’s a legitimate phobia, a fear that registers in your brain…People think it will just go away, but for many children and adults, it doesn’t. Unless, that is, you can nab a really, really good tutor.”

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Students can earn gift cards, snacks, crafts, and rewards for achievements and successes from Mathnasium. Photo courtesy: Mathnasium.

That’s where local teacher and small business owner Jennifer Chevalier comes in. She and her team of eager, patient instructors have turned Mathnasium of Olympia into a fun, relaxing environment where students enjoy their work.

Chevalier combines the three key components of learning: strong curriculum, skilled instruction, and a motivating love of learning. “At Mathnasium, we focus on teaching the math students don’t know so they can be independent math learners in the future,” says Chevalier.

And the program works! One struggling student actually chose a trip to Mathnasium over the skate park after only two months of working with staff.

Students are dropped off approximately 2-3 times a week for sessions lasting 60-90 minutes, depending on topic and age. But with a low monthly fee that includes unlimited visits, all abilities and schedules can be accommodated. Unlike school, small talk is encouraged and visitors can even earn incentive rewards like gift cards, snacks, and small prizes. Parents, while allowed, are not encouraged…sorry!

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Who says learning has to be boring? Games and LEGOs are great tools for teaching math, science, and so much more! Photo courtesy: Mathnasium.

“You don’t stop practicing basketball just because you can make a basket,” says Chevalier, so sessions that start as catch-up or test prep can easily morph into working ahead toward a specific goal or to maintain skill and achievement levels.

Each student starts with an initial one-on-one consultation for approximately an hour. There, instructors“want to learn what you don’t know, build an individual lesson plan” and start to assemble a unique binder of worksheets and assessments, Chevalier explains.

These binders are reevaluated every 6-8 weeks and staff typically sees a 15% improvement between assessments. Included worksheets often deal with standard grade-level curriculum, story and word problems, equations, visual problems, and number sense – looking for patterns and studying the vocabulary of mathematics.

Even if your student isn’t struggling, time with a Mathnasium instructor can be valuable because “math is the only subject where kids are expected to remember everything at once,” says Chevalier who cautions parents to “not wait until April or May to rescue your kid’s grades” and risk getting overwhelmed.

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Chevalier and her team recently attended the Lacey STEM Fair to spread the word. Photo courtesy: Mathnasium.

While most Mathnasium attendees are in grades 2-12, the program can help all ages get ahead. They have helped military veterans about to enroll in college and senior adults wanting to keep their brain’s sharp. One-on-one sessions are available upon request.

The founder of the Mathnasium Method, Larry Martinek, sums it up best, “Children don’t hate math. They do hate being confused and intimidated by math. With understanding comes passion, and with passion comes growth—a treasure is unlocked.”

Mathnasium of Olympia is open Monday through Thursday from 3:00 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. They are located at 4331 Lacey Boulevard SE; call 360-688-9963 with questions. Check out online promotions, reviews and results, or read up on Frequently Asked Questions before visiting. Their Facebook page offers articles, updates, and fun facts.

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