Updated: Jan 21
Hong Kong has its fair share of tutoring centres, and if you’re looking for help with maths, there are lots of options available. But which one suits your family?
As I sit helping my seven-year-old daughter with her maths homework, I‘m struck by the thought that maths (even third grade maths) seems to have changed a lot. The questions might be pretty simple, and finding the answer’s not a problem, but when it comes to explaining how to work it out I find myself stumbling. Please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles with primary school maths! I’m guessing it’s only going to get harder, too.
It’s all about strategies. Doubling up, split, number lines... Certainly at my daughter's school, ‘carrying over’ or ‘borrowing’ is not the main strategy.
So, what do you do if your child needs maths support? Don’t feel bad about calling in the experts to help. Tutoring, be it private or at a maths centre, is a common solution.
But maths centres are not all the same; much like us they have different strengths. They also focus on different strategies. What are the options available and which one will help your child? Check out our round up of what’s on offer.
The Three Main Programmes
Seriously Addictive Mathematics (S.A.M)
The S.A.M programme is designed around the Singapore maths curriculum, which is one of the most successful maths programmes in the world – according to the Trends in International Maths & Science Study (TIMMS) survey. S.A.M offers over 30,000 pages of ‘step up’ worksheets and lessons are conducted by a team of qualified trainers. This makes S.A.M one of the most comprehensive programmes for Singapore maths, and it was even awarded The Best Mathematics Programme by Parents World magazine.
Seriously Addictive Mathematics (S.A.M)
S.A.M is a maths learning programme from Singapore, with a unique curriculum designed for students from four to 12 years old. S.A.M has developed over 30,000 pages of self-learning worksheets, covering everything your child needs to know in order to excel in maths at school. The Classroom Experience, conducted by Certified S.A.M trainers, engages students with dialogue, questions, props, games and encouragement. The idea is to make learning fun and memorable through interactive experiences. During this engagement time, the trainer also takes the opportunity to accesses how the student is coping with work, rate of progress and level of motivation. Qualified S.A.M trainers understand that their role is not just to instil mathematical knowledge in students, but to also inculcate the right learning attitude and self-discipline in them, in preparation for their future. S.A.M trains children to develop an attitude of self-discovery and learning at a young age. A habit of self-learning and discovery transcends beyond maths – it will greatly benefit their learning of other subjects as well. http://seriouslyaddictivemaths.hk
The Kumon Method
The Kumon method is an individualised learning method. The starting point for students depends on their ability to achieve a perfect score through individual study. Advocates of this method believe that if students continue to study at their own pace, they will catch up with their school level and soon advance far beyond it.
The Kumon Method puts emphasis on “Individualised Instruction” and insists on providing tailor-made study plans and progress to each child in order to nurture their self-learning ability and unleash their maximum potential. Kumon’s objective for students learning maths is to self-study once they reach secondary school level. This starts at Kindergarten level with number counting, four mixed operations at primary school level, to factorisation at junior secondary school level and calculus at senior secondary school level. www.kumon.edu.hk
E.nopi (Eye Level Learning)
Eye Level maths combines basic thinking and critical thinking maths and encourages students to master maths concepts. This system, like Kumon and MPM, is based on an educational principle where students learn at their own pace. The Eye Level system believes that when a teacher understands the learning needs of a student, then teaching becomes effective. Eye Level maths focuses on helping children improve their problem-solving skills by using a “small-step” approach.
Eye Level provides fun maths tuition for children as young as pre-school age, where a collection of comprehensive learning materials designed to introduce mathematical concepts to early pre-schoolers are used to make maths fun from an early age. Upon completion, Eye Level Play Maths will provide an essential foundation for lifelong success in school mathematics, through their maths programme, where students can improve problem-solving skills by being taught to master concepts through a small-step approach. www.myeyelevel.com
MathConcept Learning Centre
MathConcept offers maths programmes for children of all ages. Starting in Kindergarten, where children are encouraged to enhance their natural interest in maths, up through Primary and Secondary school, where a foundation in maths is built and then developed until the student is confident with different skills and abilities. MathConcept also offers an Olympiad programme for students who excel in maths and want to learn more complex skills. www.mathconcept.com
Sylvan offers maths programmes for children aged five to 19 years old at all levels of ability. Sylvan uses a diagnostic prescriptive approach which ensures lessons are designed for a child's individual needs. This allows teachers to target the skills each student requires in order to excel, while making sure foundation skills are mastered. Sylvan specialises in all school curricula, from primary school to IB, SAT, and A Levels. Lessons focus on developing targeted maths skills sets, which are applied to the needs of the school. This also includes the preparation for specific school exams. https://sylvan.edu.hk
Kip McGrath Education Centre
The maths programme at Kip McGrath is designed for students who are having difficulty with maths, at any level. A free initial assessment allows programmes to be customised to meet the student's individual needs and provides a starting point from which to measure progress. Students gain confidence by working at their own pace, without being hurried, through a combination of face-to-face learning and stimulating computer drills to reinforce new concepts. Lessons are supported with weekly homework and regular feedback ensures that parents are kept up to date with student achievements. www.kipmcgrath.com.hk
Promatics Education Centre
Promatics run a tailor-made programme developed from the best of the Singaporean and local school curriculum for the students in the Promatics Kids Course. In addition, they develop their own teaching material and exercises to cater to the different needs of students. Promatics Junior and Senior courses focus primarily on the preparation of the MYP, IGCSE and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) where instructors use a combination of textbooks and self-developed teaching material in class. www.promaticseducation.com
NTK Academic Group
The Maths Scholars programme at NTK follows the new junior maths curriculum specifically designed for students following an international school curriculum. Completion of this programme will give students a solid foundation to various onward study paths, such as future studies in maths in the US or UK and the IB curriculum. Students will also be prepared for entrance exams such as the SSAT and CEE through these courses. NTK also offers maths tutoring specifically designed for students taking IB, SATs, A Levels or GCSEs. www.ntk.edu.hk
International Scholars Tuition School
The tutorial lessons at IST focus on helping students develop their knowledge, understanding and skills in algebra, geometry, statistics, and calculus. Students shall learn to apply maths theories to solving problems in real-life situations, as these questions may be asked on the SATs, AP, UKiset, 11+, 13+ Common Entrance and King’s Scholarship, IGCSE, A Levels, and IB exams. As students progress, they will also learn the key techniques required to use graphing calculators and spreadsheets when solving problems. IST tutors aim to help lay a foundation of passion in maths that will inspire students do the best they can. https://ist.edu.hk
Alpha Academy aims to provide general improvement in specific subjects, and to work with students to achieve their goals. Tutors offer academic support in all subject areas, providing classes at a student’s own pace to increase their knowledge and skills and to construct greater confidence. Instructors will assess a student’s strengths and needs, in keeping with parents’ expressed objectives, and provide for an appropriate course of study. Materials will be provided which best serve the character and needs of the student. Alpha Academy is also well-informed about curriculum studied by local schools, as well as international schools. www.alphaacademy.edu.hk
Mathnasium’s main goal is to make maths make sense by teaching it in a way that makes sense to the individual child. Mathnasium uses their own teaching method called The Mathnasium Method™, to deliver a customised learning plan designed to address each student's needs. The teaching approach goes beyond traditional maths tutoring to develop a better understanding and build a love for maths. www.mathnasium.com
Students are provided with different visual ways of looking at maths with a block model approach. This block model approach involves the concrete stage, pictorial stage and abstract stage to enable children to learn maths meaningfully. This approach encourages an advanced thinking process, communication of maths ideas and problem solving. This programme aims to broaden students’ minds and nurture them to be creative problem solvers. www.mentorhood.com.hk
This article appeared in Playtimes Winter Issue 2018 and was updated in January 2020.