Center helps make math learning fun

Published in the April 2 – 15, 2014 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo by Marty Cheek From left, Brianna Bouton, 7, Mekhi David, 8, get math help from Learning Center Instructor Ariel Masbrucker.

Photo by Marty Cheek
From left, Brianna Bouton, 7, Mekhi David, 8, get math help from Learning Center Instructor Ariel Masbrucker.

Learning math can be a daunting task for many K-12 students. And if they become intimidated with solving number problems at an early age, it can impact them the rest of their life. Last year, a Mathnasium Learning Center opened a site in Morgan Hill to help tutor children to better understand mathematics and do better in school. Morgan Hill Life recently asked Jane Kim, Mathnasium’s director, about ways for young people to better learn math.

Mathematics is such a vital part of a child’s schooling, and yet so many students have problems learning math. What is your approach to helping students deal with the complexities of math?

Many students begin struggling with math in the early stages of schooling. Because math is cumulative, concepts build upon each other. Therefore, if a child does not understand one concept, a domino effect ensues. Making sure that the child has a strong foundation of math is extremely vital for their success in future math, science, and other courses. We work to pinpoint their gaps in understanding and build a customized learning plan to work towards success. We understand that each student struggles with different concepts and no two students are the same, so we try to cater to each student and focus on their specific needs.

What are the qualifications of the people at Mathnasium who help students learn math?

We look for people from all walks of life. They may range from undergraduate or graduate students aspiring to be math teachers to retirees who are looking to give back to their community. However, the one thing that all Mathnasium employees have in common is a love for math and a passion to help others. They must all pass the Mathnasium Literacy Test, complete the Mathnasium Training Program to become Mathnasium Certified Instructors.

How did you personally get involved in creating the Mathnasium center in Morgan Hill?

After opening a center in Milpitas, I saw really positive results with the students, so I wanted to expand. After some research of the cities in the Bay Area, I found that Morgan Hill was a great area that is family-oriented and has a great emphasis on the importance of education. I love the vibe here and this was the type of community I wanted to be in.

What special services does Mathnasium offer its clients in helping young people prepare for standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT?


As I mentioned, having a solid foundation in math is important to succeed in higher math classes. This is the same for standardized testing. Our SAT/ACT preparation program begins with a SAT/ACT skills assessment followed by a plan to address weaknesses in the areas covered by the SAT/ACT. In addition, we help develop skills to tackle any question by teaching them test-taking strategies and tips. After the student has developed their skills, they will be given regular practice exams. A big part of helping math make sense to kids is showing how math applies in real life situations.


Larry Martinek, the creator of the Mathnasium Method™, developed five strategies to help sharpen a young child’s math skills.

1. Change: Have the child calculate how much change they should receive when shopping.
2. Fair Trades: Have the child calculate how many dimes equal the value of six quarters, for example.
3. Problem Solving: Ask how many months younger or older a child’s friend or sibling is than they are. Or how old they will be when their younger or older sibling is a certain age.
4. Splitting in Half: If a pound of candy costs $6, ask your child how much a half-pound costs.
5. Time: Ask the kids to figure out what time to leave by explaining when you’ll need to get there.

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek