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Home PARENTING Thoughts Mental Arithmetic & Math Enrichment Class Penang | Which is the best?

If you’d heard of UCMAS Mental Arithmetic or Intelligent Mental Arithmetic, they are the top brand names of mental arithmetic classes in Penang or Malaysia. Upcoming brands that I found online are Aloha Mental Arithmetic and CMA Mental Arithmetic. I was first introduced to mental arithmetic since my nephew started with UCMAS when he was 5 years old. This year, he is 12. Over these years, the collection of his trophies in mental arithmetic championships are taking a substantial space of their house. His mom, my cousin told me that my nephew asked to be enrolled in all the competitions since he was 7. And since then, he’d never stopped bagging champion titles in every competitions. And I guess, we had to ‘thank’ his kindergarten teacher for her ‘feedback’. She told my cousin that his math was rather poor then hence, my cousin sourced him for a  math enrichment class and it turned out that nephew was actually far ahead, beyond average! This is certainly a good co-incident.
Ours is a total different story. As we progress with Austin, we found that his love for numbers is enormous. He started to read numbers before turning 2 yo. He began writing numbers from 1-100 instead of letters though I believe he is capable of both. His first Chinese strokes are yi, er, san (1,2,3..10). He called himself Agent 6 and he assigned everyone that he knows with numbers. He counts cars on the road, he calculates the people that stay in the lift after we walk out (e.g. 5 people in the lift, 2 people walked out, how many are left?), he threw us simple algebra questions (e.g. Five plus something equals to 12, what is that something? ). Thus, we thought it could be good to place him in the enrichment class to actually pick the math concept in a systematic manner. 

So, this is here I am? A fair bit of literature research and comparison studies, to find the best. In practical, there is perhaps not the best. To sound realistic, the best that fit Austin. That’s all we want. So far, I had spoken to more than a handful of parents (of course my cousin is one of them) and a few teachers.

And now, back to the problems in my head. Everyone knows that Malaysian public education system sucks. Therefore, all kinds of enrichment centers are mushrooming. In the midst of opportunists, I believe there are also many genuine centers that work to balance the poor schooling syllabus or teaching method.

Kumon – one of the earliest in country and still round. Starts for 4 yo and above. Claimed to be traditional, I believe there must still be valued since they are everywhere.
Method/Syllabus: Individualized learning as per say hence, self pacing. Routine arithmetic organized in multiple levels, heavy duty on plain worksheets, training and more training.

Eye Level – formerly known as E.nopi Math. Evolving on franchise, focusing on Math & English enrichment classes for preschoolers and young kids.
Method/Syllabus: Diagnostic test sets a child’s entry level, hence the learning level is based on individual pace. Expect images, charts, patterns of many variety and colors, they are incorporated into drilling worksheets that covers basic thinking math curriculum and critical thinking math curriculum. Focus on understanding mathematical concepts rather than speed and accuracy. Conducted in English.

UCMAS/Intelligent Mental Arithmetic – I would say this is popular among the Chinese speaking parents, in short they call it ‘xin suan’.
Method/Syllabus: Literally translated as ‘counting in heart’, this teaching method concentrates on calculation by heart or by sight. Indeed amazing, I personally had seen how my nephew worked on over 100 arithmetic questions in merely minutes with perfect 10 accuracy. The brain of young kids are also activated through listening calculation, reading calculation and writing calculation. Work great for kids that are attentive, conscientious and meticulous. Priorities are on speed and accuracy. Enrolment may start as soon as the child can write 0 to 9, typically 5 or 6 yo. Certainly has a chance to play with abacus. Stress on practice and more practice. Chinese/Mandarin is the common medium used in class.

Math Monkey – a new thing in town, apparently this method looks fun by combining lots of play.
Method/Syllabus: No paper and pencil. Not a tutoring, it is more like a game time via Vedic Math whereby numbers as an individual has certain property and relationship with one and another. Conducted in a group of children of similar level judged from a prior diagnostics test. Made of interactive plays, hands-on, social networking and mind teasers.

Mathz 4 Kidz Learning Centre - developed Dr Yeap Ban Har based on Singapore math, this is purely the information I found online.
Method/Syllabus: Based on what I checked out on the videos uploaded on youtube, kids are exposed to various physical instruments e.g. blocks, shapes, dices aside from working sheets. Classroom kind, learning in a group with opportunity for interaction and competition. Concepts learning with holistic approach as per claim, not rote learning variety. Emphasize much on creative and critical thinking through communication. 

Food for thoughts:
- Each kid is unique including the approach that suits his/her method of learning. An enrichment class that is good for one child doesn’t mean perfect for another.
- Parental expectation. As much as we are looking for the benefits of our children, ask ourselves – does it satisfy our kids or us? Do they really need or want it? Does he/she enjoy the class?
- What is the bottom line of learning? Long term or short term? Does he/she benefit from it?

Good Luck!!


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