As students embark on a very different school year than normal, parents may find they need a little more help outside of school hours.

That’s where Nishu Patel come in. She’s the owner of Dickson City’s Mathnasium, 217 Scranton Carbondale Highway. Mathnasium opened nearly three years ago with one aim — to help kids excel in math. They’ve seen a jump in inquiries about help for students struggling with math these days. Here’s what Patel had to say:

Q: What exactly does Mathnasium do?

A: Mathnasium helps students catch up, keep up or get ahead in math. We realize each student is different and that is why we create a specialized learning plan for each student to help them reach their goals. We have been around for three years, however, Mathnasium franchise has been around since 2002. We currently have over 1,000 locations around the world.

Q: What kind of students do you help?

A: We help students in all age and all grade levels. We even help college students or students who need extra test prep for SAT/ACT. A lot has changed in the past few months. Luckily Mathnasium had been working on our online program called Mathnasium @home for couple years, so when we were forced to close our physical locations, we moved all of our students online with-in few days and continued their education. Most of our staff members are college student getting their degree in education.

Q: Why do so many people think math is difficult?

A: Our founder Larry Martinek always said this: “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.”

Math is one subject that builds on previous knowledge so if a student didn’t understand the concepts learned in third grade they will have difficulty in fourth grade. This is one of the main reasons we do a risk-free assessment on every student that comes to us, since we understand each student is different and we want to meet them where they are and challenge them from there.

The current trend we are finding is many students are testing behind where they left off last year. Studies have shown students will lose close to one year’s worth of math skills this year due to COVID-19. They are calling this COVID slide and I am seeing that is the case with all my new enrollments.

Q: With all the coronavirus-related restrictions in place, how have you had to change what you offer?

A: With COVID-19, the only thing we changed was the way we offer our class. Instead of in-person session we had to switch to virtual learning. The thing that sets us apart is even virtually we are working with students live, so there is always an instructor working with a student live and helping them with any questions they may have. And because of this student are enjoying the sessions and finding it easier to understand. We currently are offering both online classes and in person classes. We are limiting how many students come to the center so we can practice social distancing.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about math?

A: My favorite think about math and a point we try to teach student is how important math is in our daily life. We don’t realize it, but we use math a lot. And one of the things that I love the most about teaching math is having those “ah ha” moment with kids. Meaning, when I am teaching a new or a difficult concept to any of my students and all of a sudden, the student understands it. I think that’s the best moment.

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