Path to Grade Level Math: A Struggling Child Blossoms
By Eric Steckel
Grade Level Math Skills Are Crucial For Struggling Students
When Brooklyn saw Mr. Paul waiting in the hall outside her second-grade classroom, she broke out in a grin. Despite being eager for that morning’s field trip, she was delighted that her Path2Math tutor was here for his weekly visit. It was a big change from a few months ago.
“In the beginning, Brooklyn’s natural reserved attitude was very apparent,” Mr. Paul Rathkamp explained. “Until trust was developed, there was a little bit of standoffishness from her, wondering, ‘Is he gonna be here next week? What’s this really all about?’ ”
That reaction is typical. After all, Mr. Paul looks quite different from most of the teachers and staff at the school. “I remember my first day walking into the school,” Paul said with a laugh. “I stuck out a little bit. I’m tall and I’m an older guy.”
Developing Math Literacy and Math Fluency
Brooklyn and Paul worked together on her math literacy and math fluency in order to help Brooklyn get back to grade level math skills. They started by identifying the different coins and building familiarity with their value. “Surprisingly, a lot of the kids really haven’t been exposed to money before.” Paul explained. Then they used the coins as a manipulative math tool, which is a more interactive – and interesting – way for children to learn how to add and subtract. With a little foundation, they translated the understanding of coins to working math problems, like how a dime minus a nickel equals a nickel.
“Suddenly you see something catch and they get it, and the pride and the happiness that comes over their face is just extraordinary.” Paul Rathkamp, Path2Math Tutor
One-on-one relationships are the foundation of Faith Network’s intervention math program. Ms. Manning, Brooklyn’s teacher, has noticed a difference. “Brooklyn’s focus has increased. She is trying harder and her confidence is getting better.”
Paul has witnessed a change as well. “As we began working together and getting to know each other – building trust – Brooklyn has opened up.” He continued. “When students realize that you’re here to help them, and that you’re on their side, it helps accelerate the learning process.”
“Suddenly you see something catch and they get it, and the pride and the happiness that comes over their face is just extraordinary,” Paul says. “All the benefits that a child gets from that, not just learning math, but the self-esteem and the confidence, they bring back into their classroom and, hopefully, feel more confident that they know what they’re doing and not so shy.”
“Brooklyn’s progress in math is giving her confidence in other subjects too. In reading, she is actually reading more when asked,” Ms. Manning explains. “She doesn’t ‘pass’ as she so often has done before her reading support from Faith Network tutors. I am so appreciative of Faith Network’s contributions to our students.”