Heart Math Tutoring – Ensuring Elementary Students Develop a Strong Foundation in Math

Building a strong foundation in mathematics can never start too early in a child’s education. To this end, Heart Math Tutoring (Heart or HMT), is a Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides one-on-one math support to elementary students by leveraging volunteers as tutors. HMT’s guided, games-based curriculum and on-site staff support makes it easy for volunteers to make an impact with students in just one hour per week!

See a Need and Make a Change

HMT was initially piloted in 2010 by volunteer members of Social Venture Partners Charlotte, who recognized that volunteer tutors, if given tools and support, could make a powerful impact on students’ academic progress. 

“The group obtained guidance from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Communities In Schools (CIS), and UNC-C to identify curriculum resources and format. In 2013, the pilot program became a standalone nonprofit and has grown to serve more than 1,100 students annually plus students across 26 schools in Charlotte and more than 60 students across two schools in Charleston, SC with help from more than 1,250 weekly volunteer tutors. HMT is excited to be expanding into Winston-Salem in the 2023/2024 school year,” said Claire Devon, Heart Math Tutoring’s Winston-Salem Board Chair.

With the setbacks that occurred during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the elementary school students of Forsyth County can greatly benefit from the HMT program.

“Pre-Covid, only 54% of Forsyth County elementary school students were meeting grade level expectations in math, and unfortunately, we’re now down to 44% which is less than the state average, with a disproportionate number of students coming from economically disadvantaged households. Early math proficiency supports academic confidence, helps equip students for high school graduation and post-secondary/career options, and correlates with later achievement in both math and literacy. We find that many students enter kindergarten without hands-on experience with numbers and attempt to learn math through memorized rules and procedures. Unfortunately, this means that as math difficulty increases, math scores tend to decrease over time leaving many students unprepared for Algebra, a high school graduation requirement,” Claire commented. 

HMT tutors support students in grades 1-5 who are performing 1-3 grade levels behind in math and may not otherwise have access to private tutoring. 

“During tutoring sessions, students get hands-on practice with numbers to build a strong foundational understanding in how numbers work, referred to as ‘number sense.’ The curriculum is tailored to each individual student, allowing them to move at their own pace and build academic confidence along the way. With HMT, elementary school teams nominate students who are performing 1-3 years below their grade level in math and may not otherwise have access to resources for private tutoring. Team members then assess each student to determine conceptual gaps in core math skills, covering concepts that are building blocks of foundational number sense and critical for long-term success. The program target, established with guidance from math specialists at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and UNC-C, is that students demonstrate growth in 2+ concepts,” stated Claire.

Heart tutoring is provided at no cost to schools, students or families. Heart Math Tutoring is nonprofit and relies on the generosity of community members to provide free academic support. 

Hands-On Tutoring for Students

Tutoring is conducted in-person at the partner school, supervised and supported by an HMT Program Coordinator. 

Tutors are asked to commit 30 minutes or one hour per week at their preferred time/location from October to May. In 2023/2024, HMT will need to recruit 50+ volunteers to serve 50 students. If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the organization, you can sign up on Heart Math Tutoring’s website.

Results Speak for Themselves

98% of more than 4,500 students who have completed the program to date have made growth on pre/post assessments that meet goals set by math specialists, and 92% of teachers report that student confidence and/or academic enthusiasm increases because of HMT. 

“Last year, one of my students shared with me, ‘HMT makes me feel smart and hardworking; like I can actually do something I’m good at.’ Knowing that you’re making a difference in the lives of children and putting them on a path of understanding what they are taught is a great reward for us as tutors,” Claire said. 

For more information on Heart Math Tutoring, visit heartmathtutoring.org.

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