It all adds up

Math tutoring is a wise investment, as it helps develop skills down the line


Ioana Teodorescu started tutoring in math seven years ago.

Her start in tutoring was somewhat serendipitous. An architect and a professor in interior design at Algonquin College, Teodorescu realized that some of her first-year students didn’t know basic geometry.

“This is math they should know since they are going to be developing concepts in 3D design,” said Teodorescu. At around the same time, her own children needed help in math, so she began tutoring.

Ioana Teodorescu.Photo Courtesy Ioana Teodorescu

“I go right back to the basics—adding, subtracting, division and knowing the multiplication table by heart—in my tutoring,” says Teodorescu. “This is the core of understanding what bigger numbers are made of, the base of factoring and everything in advanced math. Without those, you are really stuck.”

Teodorescu also says that tutoring doesn’t work on its own and parents have to be in step with the tutor and do math homework at home. “I encourage parents to be involved,” she says. “It will help your child and you’ll be able to see areas where there is a problem.” Teodorescu says if you don’t fix it early, it gets harder in the higher grades.

“Catching problems in math early in their schooling is easier and providing tutoring will give them a solid foundation,” says Teodorescu, and it “means less investment in the long run.” Testimonials on Teodorescu’s website from satisfied parents and students attest to the benefits of tutoring.

“If you realize your child is struggling in math,” says Tutor Doctor Ottawa education consultant Joaquin Pineda, “then don’t wait. It does take a long time to catch up.” Pineda says that it’s hard for the school system to catch the students that fall through the cracks. Since COVID, many students are still struggling to catch up—especially in math and the sciences, he adds.  

Joaquin Pineda. Photo Courtesy Tutor Doctor Ottawa

“Math is so fundamental for just about any career these days,” says Pineda. “And you really need to know the basics. If your child is struggling in Grade 3, it will only be worse once they are in high school.”  

Currently, at least 99 percent of Pineda’s students are struggling with math and only a few attend tutoring to get better marks.

“Often, it’s the child’s teacher who recommends getting help for [the] child,” says Pineda, “and that feedback is valuable. It’s often a relief for parents and when their child starts to do well, it’s a confidence boost for them.”   

Parent Beth, who asked that her last name be withheld, knows the value of tutoring. “The pandemic, as it did for many families, really took a toll,” she says. “We knew we needed extra support, especially for our 11-year-old in Grade 6 who has a learning disability. But our eight-year-old in Grade 3 was struggling as well.”

Beth says that Tutor Doctor did a great job of getting an understanding of each of her children, what kind of support they need and how they like to learn. She says their tutor is well matched to her daughters and got them to really open up to learning and being engaged. “Their increased confidence for tackling homework and being able to complete it with confidence is amazing,” says Beth. “They feel good about their knowledge and skills and really enjoy the personal attention they get from their tutor.”

Sally Kader, owner, and instructor at Kanata South Kumon Centre says you have to look at the long-term goals and why math has to be an essential part of those goals.

Sally Kader. Photo Courtesy Kanata South Kumon Centre

“When I went to school, you could get away without doing math,” says Kader. “But not now. Not only are you competing with international students, for most disciplines you need a good understanding of math.” She says there is a critical minimum you need to get ahead. “Parents have different reasons for getting help for their child,” says Kader. “Sometimes it’s because they’ve fallen behind, or they really need more of a challenge, or they need better math marks to qualify for a program,” she says. “But no matter what your reason, my advice is to start early.”

Kader also suggests that any form of tutoring will be a lot more financially viable in the early grades. “At Kumon, we do a diagnostic test to determine the best place for your child to start,” says Kader. “We have Grade 5 students doing Grade 10 math, and other students may be doing math at a grade or two lower. Everyone starts off at different levels and they only move onto the next level when they are ready.” Kader says they get students across the board and their fees are very reasonable. “Kumon is a slower fix, and a different philosophical approach,” says Kader. “But it’s a more permanent fix, so more than just catching up.”



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