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Student-teacher interaction is key to success at Mathnasium

Developing a student’s confidence to learn a big part of the equation at Mathnasium
Photo via iStock

Math can be for anyone.

That’s the philosophy at Mathnasium, one that Jerry Li, director of the Richmond location, instills in each student coming through his center’s doors.

And it starts with establishing a sense of confidence.

“Everybody who comes in has a reason to be here,” Li says. “We’re here to tailor our help to their needs whether they are behind, staying on top of the semester or looking to get ahead."

Mathnasium provides assistance based on the B.C. school’s curriculum for elementary and high school students.

“When a student joins our program the goal, first and foremost, is to build confidence,” says Li, “It’s hard for them to be receptive to instruction and progress if they are anxious, they need to see the center as a safe place to make mistakes.”

In addition, Mathnasium provides keenly focused attention from the instructor.

“There’s more emphasis on student-teacher interaction,” Li says. “It’s more than just powering through worksheets.”

Helping achieve that is the beneficial ratio of students to teachers at Mathnasium.

“We have just three to four students for each instructor,” Li says. “That allows for dialogue between the student and instructor, which we find is much more productive. This way the teacher can be personable, rather than simply handing out a worksheet, marking it and moving on.”

And since a student’s weaknesses can be so individualized, a natural and easy flow of communication between student and teacher can pave the way to a more productive learning experience.

“When trying to engage our students in math, we try our best to build rapport first. It could be as simple as asking how their day went. It’s important to establish dialogue before we get deeper into the teaching. The students need to feel comfortable and heard when they ask questions,” Li says.

“There’s also a lot of things we do behind the scenes to help the student with retention,” Li adds, “and that includes a spaced repetition approach to their personal curriculum.”

It allows for a student to engage with more than one topic per class, as opposed to learning each topic sequentially.

“We try to teach multiple topics in parallel,” Li says. “So in every class, the student is tackling three topics or more. That way each of the topics spans a longer learning period, and there are more opportunities to interrupt that ‘forgetting curve’ which helps increase retention.”

And when it all comes together and the student progresses, it’s a win-win proposition.

“There aren’t many jobs where you can experience this kind of instant feedback from your contributions. Seeing a student develop confidence and grow ‘right before your eyes is incredibly rewarding.”

For more information and to connect with Mathnasium of Richmond, visit their website at or call (604) 241-8020.