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Math Monkey builds confidence and engages kids through fun learning techniques

Mar 26, 2018 01:58PM

By Mary Flenner

At Math Monkey in Solon, they will tell you that there are two types of students who walk through their doors––those who love math and those who will love math.

“I’m a math lover.  But my grades were never that great because I never really felt that challenged,” says Math Monkey owner, Sandy Rosenbluth, a former systems engineer, who took over the business with his wife Ann, about four months ago.

“Today, there are more options for students, such as AP classes. Math Monkey is another one of those options. We offer new challenges for our gifted or high performers in math. And for some underperforming students, Math Monkey may be just what they need to become more engaged in their math and to gain confidence in their math abilities. Very often those children really excel in the Math Monkey environment. We keep them engaged and having fun and give them some confidence. No matter what level a student is at, we try to help them find success.”

Math Monkey was created about 10 years ago by a group of math teachers with the goal of offering a fun way to learn math.  “Lessons are much more effective when kids enjoy what they’re doing.  It’s hard to build confidence when you’re doing something you don’t like.  All of our lessons include some kind of game,” he continues.  “Games are another way to develop problem solving skills.  Often, the children don’t realize just how much they are learning.” 

In class, if students solve their problems, they get little rewards that can be traded for prizes at the Math Monkey “trading post.”  Trading post is open once per month and it's amazing how the students work to earn their tokens and save up for the prize they have their eyes on.

Some of the concepts taught at Math Monkey are referred to as “mental math strategies,” which is the idea of learning to work with numbers in your head.  In fact, some may be surprised to learn that you won’t find a calculator in Math Monkey classes.  They want their students to feel comfortable and confident when working with numbers.

“These techniques go beyond memorization,” Rosenbluth explains.  “A simple example would be that if you want to add 97 to something, you add 100 and then subtract three. Another great example would be the type of techniques people use to calculate a tip - for 20%, divide the bill by 10 and double it.

“In school, teaching tends to be procedure based.  There’s a set of procedural steps students are expected to use to get the correct answer.  The problem is if you don’t remember all of the procedural steps, you can’t solve the problem.  Kids often don’t really learn about the numbers themselves or the relationships between them,” Rosenbluth says. 

That’s why Math Monkey’s techniques explain how to work with numbers in a wide range of problems.  Their enrichment classes are for students from age 4 to 14.  Students attend one class per week for about an hour.  Classes aren’t age specific, because as Rosenbluth explains, “We could have a fifth-grader who is ready for algebra.  The idea is to keep them moving ahead without regard to their age or grade.”  They also offer one-on-one tutoring and homework help to fill in gaps or help kids over especially tough hurdles. Math Monkey also teaches robotics, STEAM classes and sophisticated concepts such as Java programming through sequencing and game design. 

“Classes are small; the max size is eight, with a 4:1 ratio.  For any class with more than four students, we have an AP math student assistant.  All our teachers are Ohio licensed math teachers, so they not only understand math, but how kids learn math in their schools.  Some are retired or have regular jobs as teachers.  All are very highly experienced.  With the AP students, they’ve gone through all the same lessons and plans as the students. Sometimes we’re even able to get a student helper who can help a child from the same school that they had gone to,” says Rosenbluth.

For a free evaluation and class, visit MathMonkeyCleveland.com or call (440) 914-0060.

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