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  • Mar 10th, 2018 11:25 am
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Newbie
Jul 12, 2011
2 posts
1 upvote
TORONTO
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
Hello,

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

Thanks
Newbie
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!!!
Newbie
Jan 26, 2014
57 posts
5 upvotes
Toronto
LiveTrue wrote:
Nov 14th, 2017 10:07 am
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!!!
Wow did you just make this account to praise the program?

I heard it is good, but it takes motivation from the child and lots of time commitment from the parent. If the child is not motivated, it's like pulling teeth.
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2007
3796 posts
777 upvotes
ghotie wrote:
Dec 12th, 2017 5:39 am
Wow did you just make this account to praise the program?

I heard it is good, but it takes motivation from the child and lots of time commitment from the parent. If the child is not motivated, it's like pulling teeth.
Agree with you, but at some point child will get motivated when new concepts/problems become casual through a lot of practice.
I have two daughters (gr1 & 3) enrolled. Our gr 1/2 teacher is amazing, she would stay overtime to explain the problem and offer a solution.
Eg she started explaining sq root to gr1 - I don't think they touch it in public schools until gr5. Admittedly, kids didn't get it, but the goal was to memorize a few perfect squares and use them in mental math. It will all be a deja Vu later on...
At first, it was pulling teeth and I still remember a couple of weekends spent on homework. Gr3 does her entire h/w in less than 2 hours, she is also getting A's at her day school. Needless to say, we are happy with progress.
After spending many years in Wall Street and after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: it never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It was always my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight!
Member
Oct 19, 2006
370 posts
19 upvotes
Toronto
keihatsu wrote:
Oct 5th, 2016 1:36 pm
We too went for the interview and my daughter was "selected". I was so disappointed with the interviewer's questions and aptitude. He was the principal of the institute !!
Still we thought one person's impression shudn't be used as a yard stick to assess the program and enrolled her.

The first class itself was so disappointing..and the syllabus even more so...The drills are designed in such a way that the students generate the numbers..parents check the answers, and mark the progress. Guess what in the end we do all the work necessary and they take the credit..

My daughter is still in the program and doing well, but I am taking her out as soon as I am allowed to. It's like a scam..They have designed a program where they take an already intelligent child..make parents do all the work and be credited for it. They are just like any other program except that they claim to be different and price u high for the same.

There is no explanation of the concepts or anything..just the drills and discussing by lame teachers 2 word problems every week and high school children helping and monitoring the kids in the class.

I atleast feel that's not the way my child needs to be taught maths. I definitely would recommend thinking twice before enrolling or try it out few classes and see whether you would like to continue or not. They do give you the option of cancelling after first few classes.
I think finally someone nailed it... ALL of these programs do the same thing... they take naturally intelligent students, lure them in and guilt trip the parents into pushing their children. and when the student does well, they take the credit... BOTH Kumon and SOM does the same thing. I believe these businesses with questionable practice need to go under.

BTW Kumon booklets are now available to buy online and at Costco. I've compared all of them THEY ARE THE SAME. don't waste your time and ruin your relationship with your kids and kill their interest to learn.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
1654 posts
433 upvotes
Woodbridge
Whenever education becomes for-profit you open the door for a whole lot of problems. Supplementary programs and tutoring and extra help are great to help a child catch up or reinforce materials. Drilling a 6-year-old to memorize perfect squares is absurd, and if they can figure it out in grade 1 surely they'll have no problem figuring it out when it's covered in the curriculum. At the end of the day, if a child is happy and engaged going to Kumon or Spirit of Math, then all the power to them. If they have a negative view of the programs and aren't having fun you could end up causing more harm than good. Enrol them in a coding or robotics class, or let them explore some artistic or athletic pursuit.
Newbie
Dec 4, 2011
9 posts
TORONTO
Buy the JUMP math books for your child's grade and do the pages with your kid (if they are not getting homework).

SOM costs a fortune, IMO, takes up a load of time.

An elementary teacher friend of mine told me after her child did one session: "They should call is 'Kill the Spirit of Math'."

Definitely playing into parents' fears about their kid's progress in math.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
1654 posts
433 upvotes
Woodbridge
PeterED wrote:
Mar 9th, 2018 3:16 pm
Buy the JUMP math books for your child's grade and do the pages with your kid (if they are not getting homework).

SOM costs a fortune, IMO, takes up a load of time.

An elementary teacher friend of mine told me after her child did one session: "They should call is 'Kill the Spirit of Math'."

Definitely playing into parents' fears about their kid's progress in math.
In my experience, JUMP math is a great resource to help kids fill gaps in skills and knowledge. It breaks down computations in small steps and provides opportunity for repeated practice. I would say it's better compared to the type of stuff they do at KUMON.

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