When babies are born, they have very poorly developed muscles. But, within a year most of them learn to stand. At first they are held up by a parent until their leg muscles get stronger. Then they learn to pull themselves up using a chair or table. Once they have mastered that, children let go and learn to balance on their own.

After many attempts, all children can stand without any assistance, so they take their first step, then a few steps, then a full walk. But, they are doing all of this without bending their knees. So, after mastering the stiff legged walk, they learn to bend their knees and walk. Mastery of this skill leads to walking faster, and then running.

So, what’s the point???

The key word in this learning process is MASTERY. Would you try to teach a child to walk, when they have not mastered standing? Of course not. Is it possible for a person to run, if they cannot walk yet? That’s ridiculous. An advanced skill may only be taught on top of a solid foundation.

It is clear to see that if one wants to play sports, there are a series of fundamental skills that must be mastered in succession. Standing, Walking, running, and jumping are needed BEFORE anyone can play sports.Sport Skill Pyramid

Unfortunately, that is exactly the opposite of the way that many schools teach math.
According to a local school math curriculum, children are required to master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in the first four grades of elementary schools. The assumption is that by the end of each school year, all students will have understood the necessary concepts AND mastered each skill.

  • Addition  –  1st Grade
  • Subtraction  –  2nd Grade
  • Multiplication  –  3rd Grade
  • Division  –  4th Grade


What is the definition of Mastery?

    1. Possession or display of great skill or technique
    2. full command of a subject of study

What really happens?

Students are taught addition in the First Grade. But, most do not practice it enough to MASTER it. The children rely on their fingers, counting, or calculators to come up with an answer. Even those that don’t need any of these crutches have merely memorized math facts. Do the children come up with the correct answer? Perhaps, but without mastery of the process, there cannot be certainty.

If your child has learned “enough” addition, they will be promoted to the second grade. Upon this shaky foundation, the children now must learn subtraction. Instead of mastering the process, the children are taught to memorize more math facts, or are given a calculator.

Math Skill PyramidIf a child hasn’t mastered addition in the 1st grade, is it possible to master subtraction in the 2nd grade? Doesn’t that sound like asking a baby to take a step without ever teaching the baby how to stand?

As if that wasn’t scary enough, going into the 3rd and 4th grades, the children who haven’t mastered addition and subtraction are now expected to learn multiplication and division. By middle school, they are exposed to fractions and decimals, algebra, and geometry. How can a child who hasn’t mastered the foundations of math be expected to comprehend more advanced concepts?

The best athletes in the world have a better physical foundation than the average person. In addition to being great at their sport, they have superior skills in running, jumping, throwing, and kicking. Likewise, Soroban gives your child a better foundation with number concepts, superior computation skills, and practice with applying thinking techniques.

Laying the proper base now will ensure that when your children are expected to learn decimals, fractions, algebra, and geometry, they will be prepared to excel beyond their peers.