It adds up—Give your mind a workout with math

Mathnasium instructors and students
Kama Friedman (back row, second from the left) opened Mathnasium of Dunkirk in Aug. 2014. St. Mary's County's location opened in Feb.

California, MD – You’ve heard it before—“you can work hard or you can work smart.” That would seem like a good approach to the subject of mathematics. Many students find this one subject to be a deal-breaker when it comes to embracing the idea that learning is fun. Instead of presenting math as a burdensome subject, Kama Friedman has found that the same mindset that is applied to making physical activity fun works for math as well.

“Kids don’t hate math, they hate the struggle,” said Friedman, the franchisee for two Mathnasium locations in Southern Maryland—Dunkirk and California. “There’s lots of fun in numbers.”

As a child Friedman excelled in math. “I always loved math but I had a good support staff,” she explained, identifying her family as being very skilled at the subject. Not every child grows up in such an environment and when a subject proves challenging it’s not surprising when a student falls behind the rest of the class. That is where Mathnasium can help. “If they don’t understand what they are doing, kids will fight,” said Friedman. “Just get them here once and they won’t fight again.”

Friedman’s path to becoming a facilitator of learning was not exactly a straight line. After working in a family business for 23 years, she recalled being in need of a change. Sales, Friedman indicated, was not her thing. She wanted to start a tutoring service. Her husband Paul heard an ad on satellite radio for Mathnasium and suggested she might want to look into that. “It was a perfect fit,” she said. Friedman signed a franchise agreement with Mathnasium in 2013 and opened Mathnasium of Dunkirk in August 2014. In February, Friedman opened Mathnasium of California, MD on Lexington Village Way. The new location has eight employees—all part-time, students and professionals with a knack for sharing their expertise in math with clients. “We’re fortunate down here that we can pull from the base (Naval Air Station Patuxent River),” said Friedman, noting Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is staffed by engineer majors and math experts. “They are trained in our methods,” she stated.

It is not just the students in need of remediation who benefit from the experts at Mathnasium. Friedman explained that “gifted students” looking for a challenge also find this gymnasium for the mind to be a great place to spend time. Children with a desire to have and hold a career in a “STEM-related field” (science, technology, engineering and math) also get a workout at Mathnasium.

Putting a child on a path to improve in math appears to play a crucial role in developing a better-rounded student, Friedman indicated. “It’s not just math they do well in, it’s across the board,” she said.

So, what’s a good plan for a Mathnasium member? “We are a learning center,” said Friedman. “We want kids to be here two or three times a week.” Currently, the St. Mary’s County location has over 50 active students. “We have more of the ‘get ahead’ type kids here,” Friedman said. In early November Mathnasium of Dunkirk hosted the annual “Trimathlon, a math event for students grade 2 to 5. Money donated by participants went to support local schools and its Parent Teacher Association. The event included math games and awards.

While use of Mathnasium does require a membership fee, Friedman declared the aid of expert instructors was “priceless.” Indeed, data compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic and Statistics Administration shows a dramatic contrast in the projected job growth in STEM employment compared to non-STEM fields. “If your child is becoming a better student, how do you put a price on that?” Friedman asked.

For more information about Mathnasium of California and/or Mathnasium of Dunkirk, visit their web sites.

Contact Marty Madden at

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