LEARNING THEORY is clear that children are the opposite of “absorptive sponges” when it comes to learning math; children can learn only if the material is presented according to their developmental stage. Students require experiences with objects before abstract understanding is possible. The next step is pictures, followed by abstract symbols. Traditional American math lessons are abstract symbols only, and generally offer a procedure that must be memorized. The Math Whisperer lessons give students the necessary experiences with hands-on objects so that they can make meaning of the abstract symbols and procedures.
THE COUNTRY OF SINGAPORE VALIDATES LEARNING THEORY. Singapore has scored at or very near the top in all math comparisons since 1995. But it wasn’t always like that. In 1984, Singapore’s students placed 16th out of 26 nations. The dramatic rise in achievement is the result of the country of Singapore developing its own math textbooks that: 1) Provide many experiences with hands-on objects before the abstract symbols and procedures are introduced; 2) Have a “less is more” philosophy, with thin textbooks that cover relatively few topics; 3) Require students to achieve mastery before moving on. The Math Whisperer program follows these guidelines, adding entry for students of any grade level among other features.