Kids enjoy math in the Barrington Mathnasium
While Mathnasium director Vanessa Mayster looks over a lesson, Barrington nine year olds Sophia Pelletiere (left) and Meredith Brienen place their names inside the mastery check jar in hopes of winning a prize. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 21, 2012 5:02PM
BARRINGTON — Math can be a frustrating task for people of all ages, which is why a Mathnasium branch opened two years ago in Barrington.
Mathnasium is an international company that aims to teach math in a different way, tailoring the subject’s complexities to the individual student.
“We call ourselves a learning center,” said Vanessa Mayster, who runs the Barrington branch on Northwest Highway. “It’s being able to reach a kid on an individual level.”
Mayster said that although the company has tutored adults, most of their students are in grade school.
“Lots of kids don’t hate math, they hate being frustrated by math,” she said.
Mayster said the Mathnasium philosophy focuses on understanding concepts, not memorization.
One example is 99 times three. Mayster knows that many kids might get confused by that question.
“I tell them to take 100 times three, then take away three,” she said. “We try to come up with the smartest and easiest way so their confidence goes up.”
The Barrington Mathnasium has four tutors that help kids out during the after school hours between 3 and 8 p.m. During the summer, it’s open during the earlier daytime hours.
The Barrington branch opened two years ago when Mayster, along with her mother and sister, were looking for an education-based franchise to open. They began working at the Grayslake Mathnasium, which is now run by Mayster’s sister. Their mother, she explained, takes care of the finances at both branches.
Mayster said what she likes best about the Mathnasium is the individual, one-on-one attention the students receive.
“We really teach not just the what but the why,” she said, adding that this understanding can boost a child’s self-esteem.
Mathnasium also works with the school districts to make sure they are meeting each child’s individual needs.
“We reach out to the teachers when a new student signs up,” she said. “We think contact with the schools is very important.”
The Mathnasium is an LA-based company that was created by a teacher in the 1970s. Mathnasium has branches all over the country, plus branches in Canada and several other countries.
At the Barrington branch, Mayster said, students come from all over the area. She said their isn’t much competition with other learning centers because of their math-only focus.
The local Mathnasium currently has about 60 students. Mayster said the kids seem to enjoy the one-on-one instruction.
“We don’t have too much of an issue with kids not wanting to come in,” she said. “They like it here.”
On Sept. 30, Mathnasium is hosting a TriMathlon for grade school kids. Participants will compete to solve different math problems for prizes.
Mayster said the branch is still new and trying to establish itself in the community.
“We do what we can,” she said. “We learn a little more every day.”