Mathnasium of La Jolla: Making sense out of Math
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 02/12/18 - 02:20 PM | 1311 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A zealous group of Mathnasium students. Mathnasium is a STEM-driven learning facility.
A zealous group of Mathnasium students. Mathnasium is a STEM-driven learning facility.
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Kids are flexing their mathematical muscles at the Mathnasium of La Jolla.

Mathnasium is one of more than 800 franchised math-only learning centers specializing in teaching kids math in a way that makes sense to them — whether they're looking for tutoring or enrichment.

“For students, and eventually adults, to truly reap the greatest benefits from math, we have to foster more than just a desire to get good grades,” said Libby Lossing, director of operations for several San Diego Mathnasiums, including La Jolla’s at 915 Pearl St. “Grades are an excellent indicator of a student’s lesson retention, but a love and enjoyment of math indicate a true understanding of foundational math concepts, which will benefit that student for life.” 

Libby Lossing’s mother, Karen, runs the La Jolla Mathnasium. Karen Lossing said the math program is in part Science, Technology and Math (STEM)-driven.

“The idea is that, with instruction in STEM, today’s kids will be ready for future opportunities,” said Karen Lossing about the Mathnasium instructional program for students age 18 and under. “The first thing we do with the student is get to the heart of why is the math hard, whether that be with kids struggling with math, or wanting to catch up with their peers. It’s even for kids who are bored because they get it [math] really quickly, and want to get a year or two ahead, or get ready for an honors course.”

The Mathnasium process begins with grade-level appropriate diagnostic testing. Lossing said that helps teachers get “laser-focused” on students’ individual needs.

“We need to connect with what was the last thing they were great at, to the first thing they don’t understand,” Karen Lossing said. “We help bridge [those two], which helps the student make sense of it, and fills in any gaps.”

Mathnasium is taught in very small groups, one instructor with up to three students at a time. Karen Lossing and a teaching partner handle math instruction for six students at a time in La Jolla during a 60- to 90-minute after-school program.

Mathnasium was founded in 2002 by Larry Martinek, David Ullendorf and Peter Markovitz. The first center opened in Westwood, Los Angeles.

As a mathematics educator, in 1985 Martinek published “Math Tips for Parents,” a guide for parents and teachers based on his own experiences and his work with his son. In the book, he argues students build confidence and mastery in mathematics through successful encounter and interaction with carefully selected materials.

“We’ve always known that good grades in math are an indicator of graduation rates and university acceptance,” said Libby Lossing. “What we now know is that a ‘love of math’ brings benefits that extend far beyond academic success. Knowing this, I think we should do everything in our power to help every child fall in love with math.” 

Karen Lossing concluded Mathnasium gives students “another tool in their toolbox” to help them problem solve and build their educational futures. “It’s flexible, it’s accommodating to students’ lifestyles,” she concluded. 

Address: 915 Pearl St.

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 2:30 to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday from 2:30 to 6 p.m., closed Sunday

Contact: mathnasium.com/lajolla or call 858-291-8186
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