Math is one of those subjects that you either love or love-to-dislike, but at the end of the day it still has to be taught. We started in Kindergarten with Singapore Math and as struggles arose I would change up the curriculum to try to approach the subject from a different angle, but each time I’ve always returned to Singapore.
I have not used a curriculum that is more thorough and step-by-step in its approach in teaching kids how to think outside-the-box of rote memorization of math facts. Real-world application of math helps the child to see the purpose of math and be able to apply their mathematical skills to think through problems that face them in their day to day lives.
Singapore’s Mental Math and Mastery Approach To Learning
Singapore teaches kids to do mental math. In the lower levels, it uses some hands-on techniques to grasp number sense and place value concepts which can initially be overwhelming to a young child. But it moves on from the concrete application, to pictorial, then takes an abstract approach to learning. All the while the child is learning techniques to do mental math problems with ease.
Singapore Math uses a mastery approach to learning. In other words, it teaches the subject until mastery is achieved, concluding with a short unit review instead of spiraling back and reviewing the concepts throughout the course. Some parents find that their child could benefit from additional review. Singapore has developed Extra Practice books that fill that requirement and help the child remain proficient in what he has already learned.
Color vs. Black and White
Each grade level has an A set and a B set textbook and workbook. While the textbooks are printed in color, the workbooks are printed in black and white. This may be an issue for some, but even with my very visual son, this has not proven to be a problem. Singapore’s step-by-step approach to problem solving has proven more valuable to understanding the concepts than the value of having a colorful workbook page.
Even without color in the workbooks, Singapore appeals to visual learners with its artistic components that keep it visually stimulating. The math games mix things up a bit and provide the fun component that kids love.
The Value of Mental Math
This is our third year using Singapore Math. I can’t say that my son has enjoyed every moment, but his proficiency is above par for his grade level. He has been able to apply real-life situations to what he has learned from Singapore, using mental math to quickly add, subtract, multiply, and divide equations with ease. This is not a memorization-of-math-facts type of curriculum. Although it does teach math facts, the focus lies in being able to learn math concepts and the strategies needed to think through a problem.
Supplementing with Miquon Math
I know this is a Singapore Math review, but I can’t leave it without mentioning Miquon. We have supplemented with Miquon Math at times, as I’ve felt for some concepts, the hands-on approach helps cement the ideas in Singapore Math better. Miquon uses Cuisinare rods as its primary manipulative, hitting upon not only addition and subtraction, but also multiplication and dividing in the first grade. Miquon and Singapore Math are often used together, although they are both separate and complete programs. They seem to support each other with Miquon weighing more heavily on concrete foundation. Miquon Math is only available for first through third grade.
Singapore puts out different editions of their curriculum: U.S. Edition, Standards Edition, and the Common Core Edition. The U.S. Edition is the version that is directly aligned with the version used in Singapore. The only difference being that the U.S. measurements, spelling, and conventions have been substituted to reflect U.S. standards. Even so, the metric system is still highlighted throughout so that the child can become familiar with the way both systems work. Our family uses the U.S. Edition. The Standards Edition aligns with California’s math standards. The order of the topics have been changed and it adds units on probability, graphing, data analysis, and negative numbers. The Common Core Edition also reorganizes topics in order to align with Common Core State Standards.