Finding the right way to support your child’s math learning outside of school is particularly difficult.
You might be looking at summer camps or perhaps even an online math program because your child is struggling to keep up with age-related expectation, or because you think they need further challenge to make the most of an innate talent. Or maybe your child needs coaching for an admissions test.
Whatever your motivations, choosing the right environment for this extra help is tough.
There are many reasons for this. Your child is an individual and as such, all children are different; they have a diverse range of behaviors, motivations, abilities, and concentration spans. Different learning styles suit different children, too. It may be that there’s only a very particular area such as shape and space, or fractions that your child needs to address. There are so many factors to consider.
On top of all this, math program providers make different promises. Between them, they use an array of curriculums and teaching styles. They operate their classes at different times and places. These are all factors to consider, too.
Ultimately, you want your child to enjoy the program you choose, but you also want to be certain it’s going to have a positive impact on their achievement. It’s certainly a tricky balance to achieve.
Here are five tips to help you choose the right camp or program for your child:
1. Don’t underestimate the popularity of a camp or class
Parents, as you know, are a difficult bunch to satisfy, and only accept the best when it comes to their child’s education. So if a camp is particularly hard to get a place at, or there’s a lengthy waiting list, then it means there are a lot of satisfied parents sending their children there.
Word-of-mouth recommendations and online testimonials can be useful for seeking out quality providers, too.
Don’t be disheartened if favorable providers seem to be completely full. Families moving away or children graduating from programs can open up spaces, or it may be they could be about to expand their provision due to popularity.
2. Ask about the Initial Testing Procedure
Look for a program that comprehensively tests and maps your child’s ability in all areas of math, rather than just using their school grades or a basic score. While this extra testing may seem tough on your child, it does mean that the provider is well-equipped to ensure your child gets the right provision that is targeted to their needs.
However, it is one thing for a provider to have this knowledge, and another to use it. Ask potential choices to demonstrate practically how they differentiate their teaching to suit the different learning capabilities of children in their classes.
3. Try to match your child’s learning style with the right program
The ways through which we best take on new information and learn new skills vary greatly from person to person.
Educational research has shown that there are distinct learning styles:
- Auditory learners prefer to hear information and take part in dialogue
- Visual learners learn through looking at images, charts and video
- Kinesthetic learners prefer hands-on learning that involves multiple senses
- Read/write learners prefer text over listening to information
For an individual, there may be a strong bias to one particular learning style. If your child is struggling at school, it may be that the needs of their predominant learning style are not being met.
From talking to your child and to their previous teachers, you probably have some idea of how they prefer to learn.
When choosing a math camp or course, it’s important to examine the how the lessons will be structured and taught to be certain that the teaching style will match your child’s learning style.
If in any doubt, any good education provider will help you to identify this.
4. Look at Communication Policies
It’s going to be important that you receive feedback on your child’s progress. Different math class providers will have different policies for how this works.
You need to know how often you will hear from your child’s teacher, in what format it will be, and how often you can expect to have the opportunity for an in-depth conversation with regards to your child’s progress.
Be sure you have this clear before you sign up to avoid any misunderstanding.
5. Include Your Child in the Process of Choosing
Lastly, once you have a firm shortlist of options, ask for your child’s input.
Your child knows better than anyone what they enjoy. They know when they feel confident they are making progress, so trust their judgment. Ask them to explain the reasons behind their first choice as best they can.
Although it feels like a lot of responsibility to give your child, an element of trust is vital. A child who has some say in the decision is generally more motivated and positive than a child who is dictated to.
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.