BookSmart Math Blog

Content to Help You Guide Children Through Their Math Education

Ways to Provide Math Support and Enrichment

August 24, 2019 | Learning Centers, Seeking Help From a Tutor

Girl Working on Math

As a parent, you may have found at some point in your child’s education that he or she needed something more. Maybe they needed some extra support and guidance, or they wanted more of a challenge, or perhaps you simply wanted to ensure that they maintained the skills they learned during the school year and didn’t fall victim to the “summer slide”.

Whatever it is you are looking for, there are options! To help you navigate some of these options, I’ve outlined them below.

Private Tutoring

Many parents use private tutoring for their children, especially within the realm of extra support. If this is the best option for you, I recommend finding a tutor that either teaches currently or has taught in the classroom previously. Their teaching experience can be tremendously helpful in tutoring your child, since they not only have a whole arsenal of tools and approaches they can use, but they have had years of experience using them so they can more quickly recognize what your child needs and how to most effectively help them.

You can find tutors through your child’s school (often the learning specialist is your first stop), or you can seek out a tutoring company. One in my area that I especially like and have seen as quite effective with students in my classes is Partners in Learning. The tutors in this company have teaching experience, get to know each of their students well, communicate and collaborate with each child’s teachers so that they can better help the student, and also offer evaluations and testing of students so that you can better understand your child’s learning needs.

Learning Centers

There are a number of learning centers all over the country; chances are, there is at least one near you. Typically, your child attends one of these centers once or twice per week to work on math. A couple of companies that are national are Mathnasium and Kumon; both offer support and challenges in math, but in very different ways.

Mathnasium has over 1,000 locations, offering programs for elementary through high school. Mathnasium’s mission is to create confident, life-long problem solvers, using math as a tool to teach critical thinking skills that kids can apply not only outside of the sessions, but in all aspects of their lives. The center develops a learning plan specifically tailored to your child, and instructors want to get to the root of what a child needs, understanding their strengths and weaknesses and meeting them where they are. There is plenty of communication with parents, and these centers seek to complement the child’s school curriculum, so they collaborate with a child’s teachers as well. You can find a more in-depth review of Mathnasium here.

Kumon has around 1,500 locations across the United States, and covers both math and reading. The program covers counting through Calculus, with each kid working at their own pace. They take a very traditional approach, with an emphasis on math facts and standard algorithms, efficiency, working beyond grade level, and independent learning. During their sessions, children complete worksheets from their folder, reading the examples to figure out how to do the problems. If they have trouble, assistant teachers are there to offer guidance. While Kumon is an established learning center that has been around for decades, I am personally not a fan of it due to their focus on algorithms and speed rather than problem-solving and number sense, as well as the fact that the program does not complement what is going on in your child’s classroom. You can find a more in-depth review of Kumon here.

Online Games and Practice

There are a multitude of websites and apps out there for math practice. Below are a few options that allow you to track your child’s progress; with these sites you can quickly and easily get a snapshot of your child’s skills, both their strengths and weaknesses.

IXL: What I like most about IXL as a teacher is that I can easily assign particular topics to the kids in my class, really pinpointing what they need to work on. And there is quite a bit of data that you can access to see how your kid is doing on various skills. The site also offers practice in other subjects, like social studies, science, language arts, and Spanish. A single subject is $9.95 per month, but if you want multiple subjects, they offer value packages. 

XtraMath: Major pro of XtraMath—it’s free! XtraMath is used for building speedy fact fluency in all four operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. However, you must master your facts in that order; you cannot move on to subtraction until you master addition. While the standard time given for each fact is 3 seconds, if your child gets a little too anxious with the time crunch, you can adjust it to 6 seconds. And just like with IXL, there are data analytics for you to check on your child’s progress.

Dreambox: This is another program popular for use in schools. In Dreambox, your child is led through learning games in a progression; it adapts to how your child is doing. But that means that you cannot dictate what you want them to work on, like on IXL. Kids love it because of the storyline contexts, they can choose a character to be as they play the games, and also earn rewards as they go. It can at times be frustrating for kids, though, because it is not always clear what the game wants you to do. In my experience, kids enjoy the K-2 environment more than the 3-5 environment, as it is both newer to them and less frustrating in the content. You can buy a monthly subscription for $12.95 or a full year for $99.95; they also offer family packages for up to four children.

BookSmart Math

Use this website to help find books, games, and activities for your child’s math development. Search for items by topic and/ or grade level to help your child focus on certain skills. And, take a look at the blog for helpful advice, reviews, and a better understanding of the teaching that goes on inside the classroom.

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With so many options out there, you should have no problem providing your child with what they need. And if one doesn’t work for your kid, you can always try another.

Feel free to comment below to share what has worked for your child. Are there particular centers or tutoring companies that you have enjoyed working with? Are there other online resources that have worked well for you? What frustrations or successes have you experienced while exploring different options?

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