Students lean on learning centers for that extra boost


The Riverdale Y and the math-learning center Mathnasium have been helping students with their schoolwork.

This year, however, the learning community welcomes a new kid to the block — the Kumon Math & Reading Center. Daniel Suh got help from Kumon when he was a little kid in South  Korea, and now he takes his son Nathan to the 5908a Riverdale Ave., location.

“I had a great experience,” Suh said. “At the time, I was probably fighting it, but I think I benefited from it.”

Although Nathan is young, it’s programs like Kumon that help solidify an academic foundation, Suh said, and even give his son that bit of structure.

Like Kumon, Mathnasium is a well-structured learning facility, but primarily focuses on numbers. You know, math. Just down the street from Kumon, Mathnasium instructors teach kids in all grades to literally put two and two together.

Kumon, however, expands a bit from math, tackling reading as well.

“He always says he wants to do Kumon,” Suh said about his son. “Even though he is young, we know he prefers math. For a lot of parents, (Kumon has) been around for many years, so you know it’s very organized, systematic and consistent.”

Homework help also is available in the Kid’s Space program at The Riverdale Y at 5625 Arlington Ave. Sam Sullivan, the associate director of family and youth service there, helps students achieve that substratum of structure through state-certified teachers.

The program also provides a variety of enrichment activities — both academic and physical — like theatre, karate, STEM, swimming, Lego robotics, fine arts and chess, just to name a few. The program caters to kids between kindergarten and sixth grade.

“What I always say is that these kids are at school all day, and they can either go home and sit in front of a computer, or they can have all these enrichment activities,” Sullivan said.

Kumon educator Gabriel Arias says he enjoys his work with children.

“They’re adorable,” Arias said as a tot attempted to follow him out the classroom. “This is not a normal school, it’s quick. I was a Kumon student for a long time, and it’s very helpful. I would say that the work ethic forces you to be on top of your homework.”

After-school programs are dedicated to reinforcing the lessons students learn in school, the educators said.

“And sometimes they don’t even know they’re learning right away, but they’re walking away with something every time,” Sullivan said.

“They’re always taking away something.”