• Last Updated:
  • Nov 13th, 2017 7:55 pm
Jul 12, 2011
2 posts
1 upvote
This program is NOT at all APPROPRIATE for primary level students (grades 1-2), gifted or not. My daughter is in grade 2 and a very high achieveing, A+ student in ALL strands of math. She was an early reader, and has always picked up on concepts very quickly. As well, she is very well behaved and has excellent self regulations skills (can concentrate for long periods of time) and is a highly motivated students who has a strong desire to do well, especially in math because she loves the subject.

She has often complained the teacher does not explain concepts well, and says he teaches math in a very boring way. Thus, I took it upon myself to observe 2 classes on my own - and oh boy - was I shocked! Everything my daughter had noted was observed. The teacher is teaching this grade 2 class as if it is a university math lecture. Limited visuals that are not very colourful or appealing, no concrete materials or manipulatives used, no discussions to link the math concepts learned to meaningful experiences the 7 year old children can connect to their personal experiences and their understanding of the world. In fact, I noticed 2 children trying to share personal experiences and connections they were making to what was being taught to things they were learning in school or had experienced, and the teacher cut them short and said there is no time for this talk. This is the same teacher who isn't even professional enough to do some basic preparation work like have the questions the students are learning already written. Instead, he is wasting precious (and very expensive) instructional time writing out the questions on this dry erase board as he has one kid read it out to him. He doesn't even have enough space on the dry erase board to write the entire question...he makes little effort to use teaching strategies to engage these very bright 7 year olds to understand the word problem - instead he quickly and writes the question down messily (keep in mind these kids are 7 years old - gifted or not, this is not developmental appropriate or professional teaching practices for primary level students), and just models using lots of oral language (limited visuals because there is not enough space on the dry erase board) and is using a blue marker to write down the answer when the question is about red beads. However, he is missing major steps (e.g., using pictures, concrete examples to helps these 7 year old kids properly understand the question and make the math meaningful). Another example, is he teaching them about integers and just showing them how to add and subtract negative numbers - what I can't understand, if he is really interested in these students making deep, meaningful connections to this math concept - why didn't he show them a thermometer to provoke their thinking and get them to relate negative numbers as a means to measure/understand temperature...
I could go on and on about what I observed in the 2 classes I have witnessed...however, it would take up another 5 paragraphs or so.

Another point I want to make clear is how the feedback was taken by both the teacher and campus director - poor listening, being defensive, no desire to use the feedback to improve their teaching/instructional practices to make the delivery of the curriculum more engaging, professional and developmentally appropriate for 7 year olds. They gave excuses that there was little professional judgement for him to apply this feedback (he did acknowledged he agreed with many of my points) because he had to follow a set Spirt of Math methodology. Also, what I found most appalling was the campus director's educational ethics and integrity (seems more interested in sales and making up stuff, than good teaching and student learning), arrogant attitude and unwillingness to hold her teaching staff accountable to good and appropriate math teaching methods to young children - gifted or not. Furthermore, I have had to jump many hoops to share my experiences and feedback with the head office. The people I spoke to were more receptive, but the verdict is still out on whether they are going to ensure improvements in the instructional practices of this teacher (who teaches in a manner that is more appropriate for much older students...).

I have heard good things about the math programming at other locations - but in terms of the Swansea one, my whole hearted opinion is to save your money in you want to register your children there for their primary level (grade 1-2) classes. The teaching and programming, I have seen thus far, is appropriate for much older students. This is also the opinion of other parents who have spoken to me, and former clients who pulled their children out due to similar concerns they had about the inappropriate, UNFRIENDLY kid programming, and arrogant attitude of the Swansea location campus director.

The company's motto is "releasing the genius" - but rather, what I see happening in the primary grade programming at the Swansea location is they are releasing young children's frustration and turning them off math (not the early experience you want young learners to have about math, when they are so impressionable in their attitudes about school subjects...). They are not fostering a growth mindset, which is a vital trait research is clearly showing for math success in later grades and math programming in countries that perform well on PISA testing...

I do hope Kim Langen (CEO of Spirit of Math) makes it a point and expectation that there be huge improvements in the instructional strategies used when it comes to teaching their younger clientele (at least at the Swansea location...can't speak for the other locations)...

freeisnice wrote:
Aug 15th, 2012 8:27 pm

Has anyone sent their kids to Spirit of math??? Any reviews /opinions etc??

Nov 13, 2017
1 posts
My children and my friend's child LOVE Spirit of Math! We both chat about how we have noticed how much they have grown because of the program, not just in math skills but also in life skills. They have more confidence when they are speaking to others, they problem solve more quickly and creatively, and have excelled in their day school classes because of the critical and strategic way in which they think now. I beam with pride when I watch them resolve issues with confidence and maturity. Thank you Spirit of Math Schools for offering such a unique after-school program. A VERY HAPPY MOM!!!