Ghazal’s parents Puneet & Parul were skeptical when they first walked into Genie Academy (formerly Math Genie). After seeing disappointing results at many other programs, they weren’t sure if Genie Academy would be the best match for their daughter. However, after two and a half years, their skepticism was replaced by joy as they watched Ghazal blossom into a brilliant student. At Ghazal’s graduation from Genie Academy, we spoke to Puneet, her father.
In addition to not seeing good results at Kumon, we were not happy with the classroom setup. They had a lot of tables where students of all levels would sit and do their work. There were some students who were very disciplined, but there were also other students who weren’t as disciplined. Ghazal was one of them. She had difficulty concentrating in class. We could see that she would often look around the classroom when she was supposed to be working on classwork. Since they are expected to do their work on their own, the teachers were not there to keep her focused on her work.
Second stop: Eye Level
When we put Ghazal at Eye Level, she started having trouble understanding what she was learning in class immediately. The classes were one-on-one, which was nice, but the teaching methods were not effective. To help address the issue Ghazal was having, we tried to get in touch with the teacher to ask if there was another way to teach the lesson in a way that Ghazal would understand.
However, the teacher was never accessible there. We would always have to bring our concerns to the director, who would then relay our message to the teacher. We never had a direct line of communication with the teacher, so we were never sure if the problem was being described accurately or not. In addition, the teachers were constantly changing, so the students there never got a chance to feel comfortable with their teacher. In the end, we decided to take Ghazal out of the program because we were simply not seeing any improvement.
Burnt twice, we walked into Genie Academy
Before coming to Genie Academy, we briefly went to Aloha Mind Math to check out their program. We felt that it was not the right program for Ghazal. When we came here to Genie Academy, I was skeptical about this program as well, but my wife was impressed by the visualization aspect of the program and encouraged me to enroll Ghazal. I started letting go of my reservations when I saw that Ghazal was picking up on the lessons within two months at Genie Academy when it took her almost nine months to learn the same things at Kumon. The difference was that she was actually learning the lessons at Genie Academy instead of simply memorizing them. However, when she started learning different things about the abacus, Ghazal started to show some resistance. I don’t think it was because she didn’t understand how to complete the problems; I think it was because the abacus was a new concept and she has always been quick to resist learning new things.
Communication with the teacher unlike at Eye Level, Genie Academy encouraged us to talk and get feedback from the teachers. We spoke to her teacher about her resistance and the teacher responded to our concern by talking to Ghazal and encouraging her. We don’t know what she said, but we noticed that she started doing better again. That’s one of the things that we really liked about Genie Academy; we had a direct line of communication with her teacher, and we also received feedback after every class about how she did and what areas needed improvement. Although Ghazal continued to do well in the program, she had both high and low moments. Whenever she got a new book, she would look at the first page and immediately say, “I give up.”
Her teacher was always able to encourage her to work past her fear of new lessons, but we kept noticing that she would hit that low every time she got a new book. We often tried to help her by sitting down with her at home to help her do her homework, but we were quickly discouraged from doing so. At first, I was a little put off by the suggestion to not help my daughter with her homework, but after thinking about it some more, it made a lot of sense. Genie Academy wants to help its students be more independent. If we help her too much at home, then she might not understand those concepts on her own, and the teacher wouldn’t be able to tell if she was really the one who completed the problem.
So we took the teacher’s advice and stopped helping her with her homework. We’re glad we did because she started doing much better. Now, I don’t even need to check to see whether her answers are right or wrong; I know she always gets the right answers. It wasn’t long before she got to a point where she stopped fearing getting new books and was even eager to learn new things in class.
How Genie Academy Translates Into Her Schoolwork
Initially, we were concerned about Ghazal being confused when she received homework from school because the way they teach math in the school system is significantly different than how Genie Academy teaches math. At Genie Academy, she uses an abacus to do the math, but they don’t use the abacus at her school, so we were worried that she would be confused by the two different teaching methods. However, we were surprised when we learned that she was actually ahead of her class in math. When the teacher asks the class to do a math problem, not only is Ghazal the first one to give the correct answer, but she is able to present different ways to approach and solve the problem.
Recently, her teacher was teaching the class about division. They were starting to learn how to divide four-digit numbers by one-digit numbers. Before the teacher could even write the problem on the board, Ghazal had already come up with the answer, impressing the other students and even the teacher. She complimented Ghazal in front of the whole class and even had Ghazal explain how to do the problem to the rest of the class. Genie Academy has definitely helped her get ahead with her schoolwork.
Improvements in Other Areas
We have been surprised by how much improvement we have seen in Ghazal during her time at Genie Academy. Before starting the program, her concentration level was very low. She had difficulty concentrating on her work, especially when it came to new subjects. When presented with something difficult or unfamiliar, she would reject it and give up before even trying to solve the problem. We saw this, especially with reading and English. She used to be very resistant to picking up a new book to read because it was too difficult for her. Now she is willing to pick them up on her own.
In addition, Ghazal has recently started to show an interest in music. I think she enjoys it because her concentration has improved so much since she’s been at Genie Academy, so she can really focus on the new music she’s given. Music is very mathematical, so her math skills were definitely helpful for her during her lessons. When we put her in piano lessons, she played at a level above her peers. She is able to play songs without even looking at the notes because her memorization has improved so much. We are so proud to be able to say that she’s doing significantly better than she was before we took her to Genie Academy.