Singapore Math is simply known as Math in Singapore but to other countries, it’s not. The program begins with a 3-step model where students are first shown concepts using manipulatives, then through visual representations, and finally, the curriculum progresses to working through abstract concepts. It’s a highly effective mathematical learning system since it instils a solid understanding of basic concepts and makes them feel intuitive.
What Is Singapore Maths?
Singapore Maths was first introduced by the Singapore Ministry of Education in 1982 and was a program that stayed exclusive to Singaporean classrooms. The curriculum was later adopted by U.S. public schools after 1998 when Jeffrey and Dawn Thomas concluded that their daughters’ American Math curriculum was lacking. Critics have stated that the Singapore Math method is difficult to grasp for students who are already studying the Common Core Standards framework and complicates learning, however, this is untrue. It changes the way students approach learning Math and think in their day-to-day lives. Over time, this translates into good learning attitudes and confidence for grasping various concepts.
Despite what research says about Singapore maths having a steep learning curve, there is evidence that suggests it is a superior system over traditional mathematics that’s taught in schools. Students who previously had any gaps in their understanding of lessons find themselves getting better at thinking in abstract ways. It’s not easy to implement suddenly in public schools but it does yield effective results.
How Does It Work?
Here is how the Singapore Mathematics system for learning works:
- The learning approach about Singapore Math revolves around a core framework – CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) module.
- In the concrete phase, students physically interact with objects to understand concepts (for example, using real oranges to learn how to count, divide and multiply.) The pictorial phase involves understanding problems and solving them through drawings and doodles. Finally, in the abstract phase, symbols like +, -, * and / are used to work through concepts.
- Textbooks and workbooks are used to supplement the learning naturally instead of relying on additional resources. All the lessons are concise and contain engaging graphics to pique the students’ interests.
- Students gain confidence while learning since they don’t use rote memorization. A strong emphasis is laid on understanding concepts mathematically and each lesson gradually progresses to the next one in a sequential manner, making sure to build upon previous lessons to reinforce concepts.
- Fewer topics are covered but each subject area in Math is studied in-depth. Lessons are not usually revisited but take a sequential approach.
Who’s Using Singapore Math?
Schools across the U.S. are adopting Singaporean math techniques in their curriculum for both public and private state programs. California day schools are bringing it to their classrooms from the kindergarten level and states like Burlington and New Charter are working towards improving their existing curriculum.
The Singapore Math kindergarten curriculum has already been adopted by Grand Junction whose students are doing exceptionally well in various Math programs while places like Denver, Connecticut, Florida, and Colorada are expanding on their teaching standards by adding Singapore math to their existing academic programs.
Why Is Singapore Math So Popular Nowadays?
Singapore Math is very popular because it teaches students how to think mathematically from a basic level. Every concept is explored from different angles with ample variations to help the student understand it. Even abstract concepts are explained through visual and physical representations to give students a solid understanding.
Traditional textbook math programs don’t cover the visual aspect and students who have trouble thinking in abstract ways, tend to struggle. However, this is where Singapore Math examples and solutions stand out. It shows how to think in abstract ways by teaching the same lesson from different perspectives. The end result is that students not only learn how to study concepts from books, but they can apply it to real-world problems and use them practically. What makes this math attractive is that it makes students smarter. They don’t just learn how to think in-depth but ask questions and verify them that truly test their understanding.
For those who transition from using traditional U.S. math textbooks to Singapore math, they find themselves enjoying an extra level of challenge, thus not being confined to solely what’s taught in the curriculum.
Pros of Singapore Maths
Singapore Mathematics has a lot of pros to it. Here’s a list of the top ones:
- Students learn to question their understanding of various lessons. They learn how to think mathematically which is crucial towards academic success in future STEM endeavours.
- The lessons are short and sweet. Most of the explaining is done through examples and pictures. The focus is on grasping concepts instead of rote learning and mindlessly working through sections.
- Singapore is a world-leader in education and even average students are considered top performers due to their strong mathematical curriculum. This is made clear when you compare them statistically with other countries. According to various international studies, Singaporean students consistently
Cons of Singapore Maths
Here is a list of some of the drawbacks of Singapore math and what else you need to be aware of:
- One of the biggest cons of this math learning system is the fact that it takes time to learn. Students who are homeschooled have to spend extra hours working through the lessons and it’s not financially feasible to adopt for most school districts. Resources and teachers have to be paid for to implement this mode of learning.
- Singapore Maths works closely together with the Common Core State Standards Framework. Some parents say this is a con when switching the learning methods.
- Supplies required for hosting Singapore math classes are quite expensive. It’s not easy arranging for them at a moment’s notice.
- Singapore Mathematics doesn’t cover previous lessons again once it works through the initial chapters. Students who are switching schools have a tough time getting the hang of it since there’s no room for revision. Nomadic students are said to be at the biggest disadvantage.
- The math system relies on using applied mathematics over traditional textbooks. The curriculum has a strong emphasis on the conceptual and ideological sides instead of problem-solving using a data analysis approach.
Now that you understand the pros and cons of Singapore maths for kids, you will have an easier time making key decisions related to taking it up or not. It’s true that kids who are taught Singapore maths perform exceptionally well in school and college programs. Numbers don’t lie and the evidence shows that Singaporean students are the world-leaders in Math, Science, and technology fields. If you’re not sure whether your child needs to learn Singapore math in order to do well in school, you can always talk to an education counselor.