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Singapore Math Review

A few years ago another “new” math came on the scene. But unlike the new math of the sixties that proved to be a failure in many ways, this new math, Singapore Math has been a much needed addition to the smorgasbord of available curricula for homeschool math.

Some observations concerning Singapore Math by my friend, Heather, a homeschooling mother of 5.

Heather's Experience with Singapore Math

I have twin daughers -8 year olds, a son-5, another son 3 and a baby.

If you can get past what we have come to expect a math program to look like in America and be open to a different way of learning, you will find that Singapore math is much more logical.

Singapore Math makes more sense to my kids.  It has no tests with the early grades.  The way concepts are introduced is completely different from Horizon, Saxon, or Math U See.

For example:  We are learning addition and multiplication together.  Multiplication is taught as an extension of addition and at the same time.  It is just adding a group of the same numbers.  Then they learn that there is a “short cut” way to write it.  Some other curricula touch on this concept, but Singapore really incorporates it.

The Singapore textbooks are in color; the workbooks have less color, but just the right amount for my daughter.  Too much color in her workbooks is distracting to her, and to many children.  Singapore’s workbooks are just right is their presentation.

We love the Singapore Intensive Practice which is an additional book that helps the girls get a firmer foundation with complex word problems.

Some days my girls spend two hours on math they are enjoying it so much.  We also have a computer video game called Rainbow Rock (goes with Singapore 1-2) which gives them fun reinforcement.  The game helps them develop speed in problem solving. I use this game as a reward.  It is not available to them anytime they wish so that keeps it special.  I think it is more effective that way.  There is a different game for Singapore 3-4.

It is just so important to lay a good foundation in elementary math concepts.  Singapore Math has been the answer for us.  I have been trying every highly rated homeschool math curriculum and none have fit our needs as well as Singapore.

Math U See is a very good mastery program.  My girls loved the manipulatives and the DVD. For one of my children, the workbook was not stimulating.  It may be very good for children that do not need visual stimulation.  The problem that we had with Math U See was that the girls “memorized the colors of the blocks and became dependent on the blocks for math calculation.  Without the blocks, they couldn’t figure. The learning didn’t transfer to abstract.  For my children there was not any transfer of learning to mental math, abstract math.  Math U See does not promote mental math in the early grades.

We used Saxon K for a while, but it involved too many things to do.  It wasn’t streamlined enough.

Horizon Math multiple ways of doing things…counters, other manipulatives, and mental math like Singapore. Horizons uses the spiral method, teaching new concepts and then coming back to review and practice them.  For us it went too fast with 3 or 4 concepts at a time. Horizons is extremely colorful and fast. I found it hard to slow it down.  My daughter that sometimes struggles with math would see that there were 3 new concepts on the page and freak out.  For us there was just not enough reinforcement for our needs.

Maria Miller has written an excellent review for Singapore Math on her Homeschool Math Website

Marie says,

"Singapore Math is the actual curriculum used in Singapore from 1982 to 2001 (English is the language of instruction in Singapore).

The Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition (for grades 1-6) series of elementary math textbooks and workbooks uses the Concrete> Pictorial>Abstract approach. The students are provided with the necessary learning experiences beginning with the concrete and pictorial stages, followed by the abstract stage to enable them to learn mathematics meaningfully. This approach encourages active thinking process, communication of mathematical ideas and problem solving. This helps develop the foundation students will need for more advanced mathematics.

New Elementary Mathematics Syllabus D is meant for grades 7-10. Emphasis is placed on the development of better understanding of mathematical concepts and their applications, as well as on proficiency in problem solving, mathematical reasoning and higher order thinking. The books include investigative work, communication skills in mathematics and appropriate computation and estimation skills, mental calculation, and problem-solving heuristics.

This series is recommended for those who want a challenging math series with a proven international track record that will carry them part way into advanced math. This series integrates pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry and includes some advanced math topics. Many questions require students to apply knowledge to new situations rather than following a procedure. Includes challenging questions for enrichment and discussion as well as math investigations. Teacher involvement is generally required.

For grades 1-6 there are 2 textbooks, 2 workbooks, and 2 teacher's guides (or home instructor's guides) per grade; typical cost would be $62 per grade. 7/8 grade ~$75 for all. 10th grade $45."


If you need help deciding which math curriculum is right for your child, Maria can help with her excellent homeschool math reviews.  One other thing, I recommend  Maria's Math news - a monthly FREE newsletter filled with math teaching information.

Singapore Math burst onto the scene after the impressive first-place finish of Singapore students in the 1995, 1999, and 2003 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). Singapore strengthens mental math and problem solving skills through word problems and step-by-step explanations, giving students an increased understanding of mathematical applications and standard problem-solving. Challenging students to independently apply their knowledge of math, Singapore Math's proven international method gets students to understand the reasoning behind math.

The Primary Math (grades 1-6) U.S. Edition makes use of concrete manipulatives, then pictorial, then abstract approaches.  The concrete understanding is the foundation which is then replaced with seeing the math concepts in pictures, and finally this learning is transferred to abstract problem solving.  This approach helps students develop their thinking processes, communication of mathematical concepts, and problem solving.  The strong foundation is laid for more advanced math.

The New Elementary Mathematics Syllabus D is appropriate for grades 7-10. The development of a better understanding of math concepts and their applications is stressed, and also proficiency in problem solving, mathematical reasoning and higher order thinking. The books include investigative tasks, communication skills in mathematics and suitable calculation and estimation skills, mental computation, and problem-solving.
This series is recommended for those who need challenging math series that has a proven record that will well prepare students with understanding of mathematical concepts and problem solving to enable them to succeed in advanced math. The Singapore series integrates pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry and includes some advanced math topics. Many questions call for students to apply their understanding to new problems instead of following a method. There are challenging problems for enhancement and discussion and also math investigations. Teacher involvement is generally required.

Needed materials for grades 1-6: 2 textbooks, 2 workbooks, and 2 teacher's guides (or home instructor's guides) for each grade; probable cost is $62 per grade. Or for 7-8 grade ~$75 for all materials. 10th grade $45. (These prices may change, so please check  distributor’s prices for up-to-date prices) See SingaporeMath.com for price information.  For available discount Singapore Math Books, visit our store.

Singapore includes the following offerings:

      1.     Singapore Primary Math: U.S. Edition
      2.     Singapore Primary Math: Standards Edition
      3.     Singapore Math Express
      4.     Singapore Upper Grade Math

Singapore also produces a Grammar and a Science Curriculum that many find helpful.

For more homeschool mathematics ideas, please visit our Homeschool Math page.