Give Bright Students Concepts they can “Sink their Teeth Into”

Finding a program with good core material is tough, but essential.

Has your child come home from school with math homework involving memorizing steps and repeating them ad nauseam without really understanding what is going on? Even worse: do you have a bright child who has been turned off math because they are bored with the procedures, and find it meaningless?

Math programs with a primary focus on procedures not only turns people off mathematics, but also develops people who learn how to follow without questioning. On the other hand, a strong math program, such as Spirit of Math, that focuses on a solid understanding will produce creative, critical thinkers who are excited to learn more.

Finding a program with good core material is tough, but essential.

These pointers will help you evaluate the core of a math program and determine if it will meet the needs of your high-performing child.

1. The program offers questions significantly different than the regular textbook type of questions.
2. The core material goes deeper and broader in each topic.
3. The program has been developed with the intent to first establish very strong numeracy skills.

Look carefully at the math your child is being taught – is it just rule based, or are they being taught first how to work properly with numbers and to understand all their properties? In Spirit of Math students are taught to work with integers in grade 1 so that they can form a concept of numbers that is not just based on manipulatives.  By the time they reach grade 5 their thinking and understanding is well above the typical grade 5, 6, 7 or even 8 student.

4. The program was developed over many years, in the classroom with students.

Most programs have been created from someone’s imagination… someone sitting behind a desk. New and innovative ideas do come from a good imagination; however, those ideas must be tested with students to see what works.

There are so many math programs out there, and many more people who think they can teach math because they know “the steps”. It takes a very discerning parent to look deeper into the program and to make sure that it is, in fact, going to teach their child how to think mathematically,  and not just how to do the next question. A person who can think mathematically is able to logically put ideas together and that is a skill that can be applied to every area of life.

Kimberley Langen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Spirit of Math Schools. Kim taught elementary and high school students in public and private institutions and was the Director of Academics for a private girls’ school. She is now Spirit of Math‘s CEO and a consultant for private and public school divisions. She has a B.A. and  a B.Sc. Hons., both from Queen’s University, as well as a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto. She was instrumental in putting together the curriculum and teacher training programs to form what is now the Spirit of Math method. After Gwen passed away in 2001, Kim wanted to ensure this system continued, and she transformed Spirit of Math from a program based on the three “Ledgers” to one that would include many other people. Spirit of Math has been recognized in 2014 and 2015 by PROFIT Magazine as one of Canada's fastest growing companies. Kim Langen is an entrepreneur of the year finalist by EY Canada in 2015 and is on Chatelaine Magazines W100 list of top female entrepreneurs for 2015. For more information on Spirit of Math Schools, visit

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