A Review of Singapore Math

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.

Workbook 1A

Workbook 2B

Workbook 3A

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.

See Sample Pages

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.

407090: The Orange Book--Level 1 (Grade 1)407111: The Red Book--Level 2 (Grade 1)407135: The Blue Book--Level 3 (Grade 2)



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.

U.S. Edition
184940: Singapore Math: Primary Math Textbook 1A US Edition
Standards Edition
470151: EarlyBird Kindergarten Math (Standards Edition) Textbook A


Level Up! Grade Levels in Homeschooling

Doing year-round homeschool has its advantages. The most important of which is that the kids don’t forget what they’ve learned the past year during the three months of summer brain drain. When the weather is either too hot or too cold, we work inside getting the schoolwork done and when the weather is nice during the spring and fall, we do more outside adventures like taking hikes, enjoying nature days, and exploring down by the creek. This also allows us to skip to the busy parks and play areas during the summer that are overrun by public school kids and take advantage of the quieter months when they’re back in school.

Somewhere in the flow of year-round learning, I’ve found that it helps to take a break and mark the end of one school year before starting the next. Whether or not you use grade levels in homeschool is a personal decision, but for us I’ve found that it’s a great way to mark a new year of growing older and learning. Even if one is reading on a fourth grade reading level, doing second grade spelling, and third grade math, it still means a lot to them to “Level Up!”.

Grades don’t mean a lot in the younger years of homeschooling, unless you’re enrolled in an enrichment program or following a curriculum that specifies a grade level and even then there’s not much cause to it.

But by marking the next level they can see the progress that they’ve made over the past year and how far they have come. It makes them feel older and excited that they have risen to the next level of learning. (Having a grade level does come in handy when people ask them what grade they’re in too!)

The kids of This Homeschool Life:

Level Up! First Grade

Level Up! Third Grade

Do you give your kids grade levels in your homeschool?

Summer Reading Programs 2017

Summer reading programs are a great way to encourage and reward readers of all abilities. Children can earn free books, food, theme park tickets, and other amazing freebies. Don’t forget to sign up with your local library!


Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Barnes & Noble is giving away a free book to children in 1st through 6th grade who ready any eight books this summer. The books to choose from are listed on the back of the reading journal. Earn a free book of your choosing by following these three steps:

1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal. Tell us which part of the book is your favorite, and why.
2. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 16th and September 5th, 2017.
3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

This summer reading program runs May 16 – September 5, 2017.

Join The Reading Program

Half Price Books

Earn Bookworm Bucks at Half Price Books this summer by reading for 300 or more minutes. Bring your log to your local Half Price Books store to claim your Bookworm Bucks on or before August 31, 2017. Grown-ups may read aloud to kids who are still learning. Open to children 14 and under.

This summer reading program runs from June – July 31, 2017.

Join The Reading Program

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

Take the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge to unlock activities and earn virtual rewards. Read as many books as you can then log your minutes online. You can also enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win prizes from Klutz!

This summer reading program runs from May 8 – September 8, 2017.

Join The Reading Program

Six Flags Read to Succeed

Children in Kindergarten through 6th grade, who complete six hours of recreational reading, can earn a free ticket to Six Flags!

The program runs every year from late October to March 1st. Online registration will begin in late October around Halloween. Online registration is required: www.sixflags.com/read

Valid locations: Arlington, TX; San Antonio, TX; Atlanta, GA; St. Louis, MO; Jackson, NJ; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; Washington D.C.; Springfield, MA; Queensbury, NY; Montreal, Canada.

Join The Reading Program

Chuck E. Cheese

Track your child’s reading progress for two weeks and Chuck E. Cheese will give you ten free tokens to use at their play center.

Food purchase is required. Available through December 31, 2017.

Join The Reading Program

AudioFile for Teens

Teens, ages 13 and older, can take advantage of the Sync Summer Reading Program through AudioFile. Each week, they can listen to two free audio books throughout the summer. There will be a classic book as well as a current young adult book available for download through the OverDrive app, which can be downloaded through their site.

This summer reading program runs April 27 – August 16, 2017.

Join The Reading Program

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Program

Read just 4 of the 75+ listed books, record them in a journal and return it to any Books-A-Million store. Children can receive a free Maze Runner series water bottle for their reading efforts.

Join The Reading Program

H-E-Buddy Summer Reading Club

Read ten books and record them on your reading log. Each time you log a book, initial the reading log by the title so your child gets credit for reading. Once the log is complete, mail the form to the address listed on their website, and you’ll be rewarded with a special t‑shirt.

This reading program is available until October 1, 2017 where H-E-B stores are located.

Join The Reading Program

Pizza Hut Book It Reading Program

The Pizza Hut Book It program offers a free, one-topping Personal Pan Pizza to kids who reach their reading goal every month. The Book It Program motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition, and pizza.

This offer is valid during the school year, from October to March. Enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year is now open.

Join The Reading Program

Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure Program

Book Adventure is a fun, free way to motivate your child to read all year long. Children in Kindergarten through 8th grade can search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success.

This reading program is available all year long.

Join The Reading Program

Public Libraries

Don’t forget your public libraries! Most offer some kind of reading program with local prizes the kids can enjoy.

Do You Know Of Any Other Programs?

Do you know of another summer reading program not listed here? Please mention it below!

Homeschooling My Dyslexic Son

Let me start by saying that my 7-year-old has not been formally diagnosed. Unless he is in public school I have been told there is not a need for a formal evaluation. Now if we ever choose to enroll him in public school I would need a formal evaluation in order for him to obtain services from the district. I have had him take assessments online, I’ve spoken to other moms of dyslexics, and I’ve read countless articles on the subject.

This Is His Story

I’ve had my suspicions about my son having dyslexia since he was 2, though at the time I didn’t know what to call it. I signed him up for a fun four week class at the city which was interactive, musical, and just plain playful with running, jumping, and dancing. All the kids in the class were into it. They were following the instructor, laughing, and shaking their bells in beat with the song. My son sat there each week, staring at the walls.

“What is wrong with my child?”, I would ask myself. “Why doesn’t he pay attention?”

During those first few years I looked for clues of autism, but he never checked all the boxes. Was there a visual problem that kept him from focusing? (I later learned of Auditory Processing Disorder, which complements Dyslexia in some individuals.) At 4 years old I took him to get evaluated with the public school system. After a complete assessment, they highlighted a lack of expressive language and sensory issues, which they then recommended he be sent to public preschool to receive speech and occupational therapy.

Dyslexia did not cross my mind until he was around five. He would reverse his letters and numbers, and not sound out words correctly despite countless hours spent on phonological awareness practice. I wrote these off though because he was only five and that process is typical of a 5-year-old.

Fast forward to now in second grade and the reversals, letter re-ordering, and transposing words still exist. Though his reading improved, spelling is still holding at a mid-first grade level. The end of the second year is supposed to be the age for the developmentally-appropriate behaviors to have corrected themselves. By the end of this second grade year the warning signs of dyslexia, letter reversals, phonological awareness difficulties, and reading comprehension problems, still remain.

Dyslexia is genetic.

My father had it. His father had it, and I have it. Not midichlorians, but dyslexia.

None of us have been formally diagnosed, but the struggle is real. My grandfather has a moderate to severe form of dyslexia. He would do a book report on the same book every year so he wouldn’t have to read another book. He still talks about the book, Little Black Sambo. Although my father said he doesn’t think he has it, he was never a reader in school either. I never enjoyed it much either. My mother saved a few sheets of schoolwork from my early years and I had the typical early letter reversals, but they faded out by the appropriate time.

I don’t remember ever having a problem writing, but reading was not a pleasurable subject. I would do anything I could to avoid it!

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy a good story read-aloud, it’s that whenever I would read, I would read words without comprehension. It’s like my eyes were racing ahead on the paper but my brain couldn’t get off the starting line. I’d have to read and re-read a sentence several times before making any sense of it. By the time I reached the end of the paragraph I was so frustrated that I would put the book down and do something else… anything else. You need the trash taken out? I’m there! Dishes done? I’m already on it!

Now my son has the signs. I held out hope it was merely developmental, but all these signs were too much to overlook. One time a word will be spelled “grass”, the next it will be “garss”, and he maintains to the point of tears that there is no difference between them.

This was an attempt at the word crawl and it’s actually a pretty good one. The other day he spelled it carle after trying to sound it out.

An example of letter reversals. I had him fix the f and c in prior words several times before he wrote this one. He reverses almost all his letters, but with no apparent rhyme or reason behind the timing.

It happens with numbers too.

I’ve started to use this strategy with him. Forgive the crude drawings! I know they’re terrible, but I was trying to get the point across. The phoneme to be emphasized is a different color than the rest of the letters to help it stand out. A picture is added as a visual cue.

Dyslexics gravitate toward the visual. They do better when the paper or drawings are in color. They do better making memory associations with pictures, rather than facts.

Yesterday, we got to talking about his frustrations over a problem I had given him. “I don’t know why this is so hard for me.” He complained. “My brain is always thinking and it takes me a while, but I am trying!” He cried.

I gently explained to him that his brain works differently than other people and not to get upset at the problem. I knew he was trying.

I told him he was smart, creative, imaginative, and funny. He amazes me on the violin, playing pieces near-perfectly that he’s only heard a few times before and hummed in his head. He’s thoughtful and a helpful and loving big brother. “Spelling and reading may not come as easy to you as to others, but that with the talents you have we will work through it and you will ‘get it.'”

Dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just how we are wired. It is not something to fear, but to be understood as a different way to process information.

I understand his frustrations and though I find it hard to put into words myself, I can relate.

Why am I sharing all of this?

Because as the mother of a child who is struggling with making sense of reading and writing, the best thing I can share with you is that if you also have a dyslexic child, give the child the leeway they need to learn.

Have patience. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s going to forget how to spell the and grass again… and again.

Gently remind him. Do not get frustrated, because he is trying!

Empower him with your words and show him patience.

Be the kind of teacher you would want if you were in his shoes.

Most of all, love him for who he is… dyslexia and all.

Resources I’ve Come Across To Help with Dyslexia

1. We recently came across an online Language Arts program called Nessy. It is geared to helping dyslexics learn to read, write and spell using the Orton-Gillingham method. It also has a math component for learning the times tables and reading a clock. We recently completed a 7 day free trial of the program and though there has been some frustration of “I know I spelled that right!” when he would spell a word wrong, he really enjoys the learning games. I went through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op to get a pretty good discount off the parents bundle pack.

2. Another resource we have found is Dyslexia Games. Some say it doesn’t help with dyslexia because it is not a phonological awareness program, even though dyslexia and dysgraphia go hand in hand. I believe it’s more for dysgraphia. When you have one it’s likely you have the other. The Dyslexia Games workbooks combine Art and Language Arts to teach you letter and pattern recognition, thereby training your eye to pay attention to detail and helping to correct reversals.

3. Susan Barton’s program, the Barton Reading & Spelling System, using the Orton-Gillingham approach is the benchmark of teaching a dyslexic child to read.

4. All About Reading and All About Spelling are two resources worth checking out. They also use the Orton-Gillingham approach to teach reading and spelling. Many have had great success with this method.

5. The last resource I have are the books written by Dianne Craft. She has written The Biology Of Behavior and Brain Integration Therapy. I am still in the process of researching these, but I will say that her methods look promising. I went to a homeschool conference last year where she delivered an amazing speech! She spoke on the topics in her Biology of Behavior book which was a real eye opener to me. She talked about the causes of ADHD and other common disorders. Once I learn more of her other book, I’ll do a post on it.

If you have any other helpful resources or comments, please post them in the comments below!