What is Singapore Math?

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Published 2022-09-13

Here are four things you should know about the Singapore Math teaching method.

Singapore Math is definitely one of those judge-it-by-its-fruit things.

In the 80s, Singapore was nowhere near the top when it came to math rankings among countries. All that changed after the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore came out with its math program, which included producing its books. Today, Singapore is a top performer in math.

The success of students is behind its popularity. Here are some things you should know about this method of presenting math to learners.

Remember CPA.

One of the most important features of Singapore Math is the use of Concrete, Pictorial, and Abstract sequence. The lesson is introduced tangibly through the use of objects such as blocks or everyday objects.

Pictures are introduced when the learners are more comfortable solving math problems using these physical aids. Again, the idea is to create a visual representation before using symbols. The final stage is the abstract phase when equations are shown to the students.

Read More: The idea of exploration as a part of learning is in many teaching philosophies. Read about the Charlotte Mason methodhere.

Memorization isn’t a priority.

Remember when math drills were a must in class? Not so with Singapore Math. Instead of rote memorization, this approach emphasizes the mastery of taught concepts.

This means that students are taught to approach math problems based on the foundational skills they learned from previous lessons. For example, multiplication is not presented as a separate topic. Instead, it is an extension of addition. Multiplication is introduced through activities where students put together equal groups.

Singapore Math does not compartmentalize lessons but instead teaches children to be comfortable with the bigger picture so they can be more creative with their solutions.

Read More: Building a strong learning foundation is emphasized in Bloom’s Taxonomy. Read about how Bloom’s Taxonomy can be useful to homeschoolershere.

It teaches techniques such as the bar method and number bonds.

Number bonds and bar modeling are techniques that are introduced to learners of Singapore Math. Number bonds make it easy for students to see the part-whole relationship of numbers. As for bar modeling, it can provide visual cues for a variety of math concepts, like word problems by giving learners visual cues on what operations to use.

Not all Singapore Math textbooks will be the same.

The popularity of Singapore math means that there are numerous books to choose from. But, it is not just the publisher or title that one should look out for. Also, consider the labels US Edition, Standards Edition, and Common Core Edition.

These designations are meant to indicate what kind of adaptations were made to the versions used in Singapore. US Edition uses US measurements, conventions, and spellings. Standards Edition changes the order of presentation and adds topics to align with California math standards. Common Core Edition satisfies the requirements of the Common Core State Standards.

It is worth noting that these international versions still adhere to the principles of Singapore Math.