After a long period of pandemic-related disruption, many parents are looking at ways to support their children in their mathematics learning. Gaps in learning may have opened up with lost learning hours, or pupils may have lost confidence during such a turbulent period. Some parents may worry their child is getting left behind. Others may be concerned that their child is not as ready as they could be for an upcoming exam.
For these reasons, many parents will be looking at math classes for kids, through online programs or educational summer camps. Whatever their motivations, choosing the right program can be difficult.
Here, we look at the kind of catchup programs and extracurricular math classes that might benefit students, as well as some tips to help parents choose.
Global institute McKinsey & Company published research in late 2020 that shed a light on the extent to which children’s learning has been affected by the pandemic. Their research suggests that during the academic year 2019-2020, the average pupil in grades K-5 had studied only 67% of the math curriculum.
It is interesting to note that students’ learning in reading was less affected, with pupils typically covering 77-90% of the curriculum. However, what is more worrying is that the older the pupil, the more affected they are. Many pupils in grade 5 will have learned only half as much math, possibly less.
There are many schools that were able to set up excellent remote learning opportunities. The length of school closures has been different across the globe, too. However, it is clear from this research that all pupils learning in math will have been affected to some degree.
Aside from catching up, there are many other reasons why parents might be looking for extra-curricular math activities for their children. These include:
- To improve academic performance or catch up on missed formal learning
- To improve chances of admission to a selective school, or college or university
- To explore particular interests or strengths in a branch of mathematics
- To boost confidence
- To meet like-minded children
How parents can choose the best extracurricular math program for their child
Here are some tips from a provider of out-of-school mathematics in Dubai that you can pass on. They’ll help parents of the kids in your school pick out the right program for their child.
1. Keep in mind that some camps are popular for good reason
If there’s a camp or program in your area that always commands a long wait list or is tricky to get into, then it’s almost certainly good. Parents are difficult to satisfy and will only accept the best for their child’s education, so this camp won’t be filling up because it’s low-priced or because of special offers. Rather, it’ll be because it has a proven track record of helping kids make great progress and pass examinations.
Word-of-mouth recommendations from fellow parents are a good place to start the search for the best quality math program. It’s well worth going on a waiting list for the best camps as places often open up closer to the time.
2. Check the initial testing process
It’s important that any center offering extra-curricular math classes comprehensively tests and maps a child’s ability before the class begins. A school grade alone will not give an accurate enough picture. The child’s new tutors will need to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This will mean the class can be adapted to suit the needs of the individuals within it.
Some parents may be put off by the idea of their child going through additional testing. It really is essential, however, if the child is to get the targeted support they need to make the most progress.
3. Understand that the program should match their child’s learning style
Parents should know that their child will have an individual learning style. Do they learn best through listening and discussion? Are they a visual learner? Do they understand lessons best when they engage in as many hands-on activities as possible? Or are they biased towards learning through reading? As you know, all children are individuals and learn in a variety of ways.
It’s important for parents to check and make sure they understand how the course will be taught. They should be sure that it will match their child’s learning style. Otherwise, little may be gained from enrolling their child.
Extracurricular math is taught in many different ways. Parents should know in advance how interactive the course will be, the types of activities their child will be engaging in, and the kind of pace the class will work at. This way, they can be certain their child will make excellent progress. Ask them to look out for activity programs that offer demo lessons and activities as these are well worth checking out.
They should also bear in mind that lots of classes will boost math skills without being specific math courses. Examples to look out for are STEM classes that might specialize in related disciplines like engineering, robotics, chess and coding. Children usually really enjoy this type of hands-on learning.
4. Look at how progress will be reported
Feedback for parents is really important. There should be regular communication between the camp or program provider because this will really benefit the student.
There is likely to be some variation in standards when it comes to reporting to parents with some institutes better than others. Parents may also have very firm expectations about the feedback they will receive, so they should ensure that the course provider will meet this to prevent misunderstanding.
5. Include the student when choosing the course
It’s important that parents don’t forget to ask for their child’s input in choosing a course. If parents choose for them without any consultation, then they run the risk of the child being less engaged.
Their child will have an idea of what they enjoy and what they want to get out of the extracurricular math activity, too. A child needs to be enjoying the class to be actively engaged and learning, so it’s really important that they are on board from the beginning.
When parents follow these tips, they stand an excellent chance of finding a camp, after-school class, or online program that really boosts their child’s math skills. Hopefully, they’ll get the results they are looking for, and you’ll see a real difference in a child’s confidence and abilities in math in school, too.
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.