Mikayla Overcomes Learning Challenges in Math
By Eric Steckel | October 15, 2021
One-on-One Attention Helps Child Focus, Develop Self-confidence
Mikayla*, one of the first children to enroll in Children Rising’s Path2Math online tutoring program, is like so many second-grade girls. She has a collection of stuffed animals — and unicorns — loves playing with her cousins and friends, and adores Elsa from the movie Frozen. Like so many children in Oakland, she also struggles with foundational math skills and lags behind grade level.
“She has had challenges,” Mey Mey, Mikayla’s mother, explained. “She likes to learn and she likes hands-on learning. But she might be dyslexic. It’s made reading, writing, everything a little bit more difficult for her.”
Kathleen Baker, a Path2Math tutor, worked with Mikayla in the spring and summer. “Mikayla’s just a sweetheart. Definitely on the shyer side, but she really enjoys math,” she said. “It takes a little while to get them to feel comfortable and talk about themselves, so I always show them my dogs right away. It’s a great ice breaker, and it just warms them up immediately.”
Once they got to know one another, Mikayla and Kathleen jumped into math together. “The Path2Math IXL program is fantastic,” Kathleen explained. “The way it diagnoses where a child is and then gives you the recommendations is just fantastic. If the child misses a few problems in a row, it takes them back to where they had success, but it keeps moving them forward in their skill level. And that’s what we did with Mikayla, and she just kept achieving new skills.”
“When I saw her figuring things out in her head, I was like, ‘Whoa, that is just amazing!’. And I let her know how amazing I think she is.” — Kathleen Baker, Path2Math Tutor
Despite her challenges, Mikayla has made significant progress. She started off working on first-grade level exercises and achieved a certificate of completion. She then moved on to second-grade level and has mastered many of the skills to reach grade-level proficiency.
Each time she reached a certificate, we printed it out so she could put it on her wall. “Mikayla can point to that certificate and say, ‘That’s me. That’s what I achieved.’ It is about praising the accomplishment and building their self-esteem and confidence.” Kathleen said.
Tutors frequently have “aha” moments where all the hard work starts to connect and click. “One of the things that really blew my mind towards the end of our time was Mikayla started adding and subtracting in her head, not on paper, and not counting on her fingers. I could see her eyes moving when she was trying to figure something out, and then she would come up with the answer.”
MeyMey credits the one-on-one attention. “It helps her focus. When she’s in a group, she might think, ‘I don’t have to do this part.’ but one-on-one, she remains focused and engaged.”
As Mikayla moves into third grade this year, the work she has done in Path2Math will position her to catch up to grade level and succeed in school.
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* Names changed to protect the identity of the students