Best Homeschool Math Method (2022)
The Singapore math method is a highly effective teaching approach originally developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education in the 1980s for Singapore public schools.
The method has been widely adopted in various forms around the world over the past twenty years following our introduction of the curriculum to the U.S. in 1998.
Experts agree that part of the reason why Singapore students are so successful in math is that their curriculum teaches them a deep mastery of the subject through carefully calculated foundational learning; each grade level is a building block.
“While American math instruction often relies on drilling and memorization of many skills each year, Singapore math focuses on children not just learning but also truly mastering a limited number of concepts each school year. The goal is for children to perform well because they understand the material on a deeper level; they are not just learning it for the test,” says PBS.org.
This approach helps students surpass memorization to truly understand the material, also making them less likely to forget important concepts in between grade-level learning.
A Culture of Growth Mindset
One of these pedagogical approaches is helping students obtain a growth mindset to ultimately help them persevere, especially when they are confronted with the difficult material associated with advanced math.
A growth mindset, as defined and popularized by Carol Dweck, is the idea that intelligence is not a set of fixed traits but rather is something that can be developed and improved through hard work and education.
Experts say students are more likely to succeed particularly in difficult subjects like math when they ditch the feeling that they’re simply just not good at it and replace it with the feeling that they can ultimately succeed if they keep trying.
The support of this mindset is speculated to be one reason why Singapore students are continually able to succeed.
Singapore consistently ranks at the top in international math testing. The intentional progression of concepts in the Singapore math approach instills a deep understanding of mathematics.
Two international tests, the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), assess math and science competency in countries around the world. Singapore students consistently rank among the top on both tests.
The Singapore math method is focused on mastery, which is achieved through the intentional sequencing of concepts.
Some of the key features of the approach include the CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) progression, number bonds, bar modeling, and mental math.
Instead of pushing through rote memorization, students learn to think mathematically and rely on the depth of knowledge gained in previous lessons.
An attitude that math is important and approachable is also essential. Students perform at a higher level when their potential for understanding and success is assumed.
In typical U.S. math programs, students get a worked example, then solve problems that very closely follow that example, repeating all the same steps with different numbers. In Singapore math, students must think through concepts and apply them in new ways from the very start. Since they can’t rely on simple replication, students are pushed to greater engagement and broader thinking. In U.S. math programs, concepts and skills are more compartmentalized within and across grade levels than in Singapore math, where a strong sense of connectivity to past learning is woven throughout.
Singapore math not only helps students become more successful problem solvers, it helps them gain a sense of confidence and resourcefulness because it insists on conceptual depth. This naturally prepares students to excel in more advanced math.
CPA (Concrete Pictorial Abstract) Approach: Introduces concepts in a tangible way and progresses to increasing levels of abstraction.
Number Bonds: This shows the part-whole relationship between numbers.
Bar Modeling: Helps students visualize a range of math concepts, such as fractions, ratios, and percentages. Allows students to determine the knowns and unknowns in a given situation.
Mental Math: Helps students develop number sense and flexibility in thinking about numbers.
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