By Deborah Bostock-Kelley
Two types of students exist; Those who thrive on computations and numbers, and who excel in math and want to further their studies, and those who are challenged, who struggle with anxiety with the most straightforward equation and need assistance.
Mathnasium owners Bruce and Carol Buckler hope to aid both types of students by offering tailored tutoring solutions in their Carrollwood learning center.
Opened in 2009, the couple purchased the franchise in 2015 when Bruce was looking to transition from educator to entrepreneur in a related field.
With convenient hours Monday through Thursday and Sunday, Mathnasium Learning Center, made from combining “Math” with “Gymnasium,” provides math tutorials to elementary through high school, transforming the way students understand math.
“We have a lot of activities with positive reinforcements,” Bruce explained. “We have rewards for the kids. Each time a student accomplishes a different level of work, they get rewarded. They get extra rewards for bringing in an A+ on their math test. We approach them from a positive standpoint. Mentally, they know this is a safe place to go. We’re non-judgmental, and we don’t hold a grade over their head. We’re supportive. Because we know that children have different levels of abilities and challenges, and many have been beaten down already, we try to reinforce with positive praise and vibes.”
Bruce prides himself on Mathnasium, not being a cookie-cooker program for every student.
“We find out where they need either developmental help in catching up or where we can help enrich them if it is advanced students. We do serve all levels of ability. We don’t want to get the persona of being just working with students that are behind, because half of our students are enrichment students above their grade level.”
Bruce said that many parents are unable to help with common core math, so homework becomes a significant issue of contention between parent and child.
“Parents say ‘they’re teaching stuff for homework that I remember how to do, but I don’t know how to teach my child the way that they are teaching now.’ Many parents don’t have the patience or the teaching skills needed to do that. Parents want to back off and remove themselves from that contention and let us try to help, which we can do.”
Bruce explained that all types of students could benefit from tutoring at Mathnasium, but it takes collaboration with the parents to make it a favorable outcome. He recommends students attend Mathnasium two to three times a week.
“You have to make that commitment,” he said. “It’s kind of like the three-legged stool. I give the best instruction with the best instructors around in a well-thought-out curriculum, but it also takes students who are motivated and want to learn, even if it requires a little coaxing. Many of our students start of standoffish at first, but we get them to buy into the system. The most important part of this – the third leg – is the parents who will make sure their child gets here, who communicates with me and who trust in our method and program” We send out monthly progress reports and give feedback, ideas, and suggestions. That’s the triad we need to be successful.”
For high school students preparing for PSAT and SAT, Mathnasium features a program where the student does an assessment, and Bruce creates a learning plan based upon their needs. The student takes mock tests out of the SAT prep books in preparation for the real one.
“We go through question by question with them. It is a whole separate program that we do that is very successful.”
Available during regular business hours, an innovation to the Mathnasium program is the introduction of a home-based program, Mathnasium@home. Perfect for the child with afterschool activities that limit their time, Mathnasium@home instructors work with the students in real-time over the internet from the center to the child’s home. All that is needed is a webcam and a quiet place to work.
“It’s not a lecture. It’s a real-time experience. With Mathnasium@home, you are actually looking at your instructor face to face over a computer communicating. It’s the same experience you would have here in the center.”
Bruce said that the virtual-based program is perfect for students with busy afternoons, homeschooled, hospital-bound, and traveling students.
“It’s just a natural continuation of our normal program.”
In addition to this new program, for five days in summer June 15-19 and July 13-17, Mathnasium will offer a short-term summer camp.
“From 1 to 4 in the afternoon, students will get all forms of math experience and fun activities for that, as well. This is for any age.”
As students gain confidence in learning the math techniques, they discover they can get over their math anxiety, and find themselves suddenly grasping the concepts that before they thought were complicated.
“We have a Listen 360 rating program with our customers. We get really high ratings on customer satisfaction. We’re proud of that.”
Mathnasium is located at the Grand Plaza, 14441 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 3-730 PM and Sunday 2-5 PM. For more information, visit www.mathnasium.com/carrollwood.