Tutoring and Mentoring
Q. What are some ways
to supplement a child's math education outside of the regular classroom?
Three ways: afterschooling, tutoring and mentoring.
Afterschooling. That's a parent-led, informal,
spontaneous form of outside enrichment that can make a real difference for
those kids who are out ahead, or lagging behind. It's probably best to keep
your child's teacher and school out of it: the idea is a fresh, new approach,
supplementation, and enrichment.
Summer is a great time to start because your child's
schedule is likely to be more relaxed.
Tutoring is the most obvious form of
afterschooling, though it costs money and can be very hard to work into a
child's schedule if sports and extracurricular activities are also on the
docket and important to your child. Big after-school helpers include www.huntingtonlearning.com, www.kumon.com, www.escore.com,
www.math123.com, and www.sylvanlearningcenters.com
You can ask around, perhaps at a private school known to have excellent
students, because teachers there are often looking for moonlighting income. The
Yellow Pages are always a good source, too.
There are online services available, many free of charge.
Students in need of remedial help and practice could try www.amath.com or Japanese Math Challenge on
the very fun and worthwhile David Goodman website, www.dabanasa.com/dave/math
You could find an online tutor from www.tutor.com or download online tutorials
Besides these parent-driven forms of
afterschooling, there is also the formal afterschool. In it, you can expect the
systematic supplementation of public school curriculum in a top-quality private
school that operates independently and after school hours.
If by some miracle you live in the
Boston area, you have access to Ground Zero for afterschooling in mathematics -
School of Mathematics. That private, after-school math center now enrolls
more than 700 students from K-12, including a lot of middle schoolers from some
of the ritziest neighborhoods in the Boston area. It has also spread to other
communities and is well worth emulating everywhere.
Here's how it got started: mom who
was fed up with mediocre math instruction in the public schools began the
school out of her home several years ago with her two children and a few of
their friends, and reportedly is turning students away now, her school is so
After the need for the service
became so apparent, she went to district officials and proposed that the
district pay the kids' tuition and let them test out of the regular math class
in school, if they choose to attend her school because it meets their academic
needs better. But the school district would have none of that. And so parents
have been paying double for their kids to learn math - once, through their
taxes, to the public schools, and again, through private tuition, to the
afterschool, which is what parents say is doing the better job.
the problem with many public school math curricula is that they are tied to the
benchmarks of the National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics. Those in turn are reflected in most statewide math
assessments, but mathematicians and others who are conservative about math
education don't like them because they don't emphasize the basics.
Mentoring is another approach. Ask at the
middle school or high school, whichever is one level up, or a local college,
for a personable, good student looking to make a little extra cash. The mentor
could meet with your child once or twice a week and help with math homework,
talk about math in everyday life, maybe shoot hoops and share dreams a little .
. . just be a friend and encourager.
But most of all and best of all, as you live life with your
child, talk about math and "do math" together. Measure your vegetable garden.
Compute gas mileage. Double a recipe. Figure a batting average. Comparison
shop. Figure price per ounce.
Your goal: teach your child how math and life are
intertwined. That'll make it really . . . add up.
Saxon Math offers
afterschooling and homeschooling curricula. You can find out more and order a
placement test from www.saxonpublishing.com