How to Try Singapore Math Techniques at Home
Is there a “best way” to teach math to children? Singapore Math is a more creative and revolutionary method to teach math through problem-solving and diagrams. It originated in Singapore for grades one through six.
Since Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) began rating countries in math literacy in 1995, Singapore has consistently scored among the top three highest. In a poll of 15-year-olds from 35 nations, Singaporean 15-year-olds were ranked the highest in problem-solving, capable of solving unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar environments.
It is said that numbers do not lie, and therefore the global statistics pertaining to Singapore Math and the performance of students in Singapore speak volumes of its success. But does it mean that Singapore Math could benefit your child?
Singapore Math comes to the US
The “Singapore Math” method started steadily gaining popularity across the United States since the 2000s.
Singapore Math is challenging to implement on a national level, but its proponents say it could significantly improve math scores in the U.S. More than 2,500 public schools and 1,000 private schools in the United States have joined the movement thus far.
How is Singapore Math Different from Western Math?
The concept of Singapore Math utilizes a three-stage teaching method: real, pictorial, and conceptual.
Tangible items are good for counting, but making images of mathematical theories is another important component of Singapore Math. This is where students address math problems through the use of diagrams and numbers.
The following are some of the real-world qualities that differentiate between Singapore Math and the Western Math.
Mastery Is the Main Focus
Singapore's program usually focuses on narrower topics but with engaging approaches. Students study how the equation itself functions in order to solve the dilemma. Singapore Math learning classes usually address 13 to 15 topics per grade level, using certain demonstration techniques to educate students more effectively.
For parents who want to try teaching Singapore Math to their kids, you can perform extra exercises with your kids during your spare time like purchasing Singapore Math workbooks online, taking advantage of interactive educational games on the Internet. Singapore Math needs time and effort to master, which is why it is also a great idea to add games into the mix.
Visual and Oral Learning is Effective
Students master arithmetic through studying real objects. Previously, numbers were taught without any visual or sound representation. Among others, the Singaporean Math method has served as an innovation by integrating something that is tangible or audible.
At home, you can try Singaporean Math techniques by training your child to work with tangible items such as:
● Paper clips
● Play blocks
● Bears, buttons, or dice for counting
● Connection cubes
● Discs for learning fractions
Once they have their preferred objects, children can then draw pictures of real-world items before going on to abstract equations.
This visual approach is observable in Monster Education’s Singapore Math online courses, making a child’s performance more results-driven. When students are able to touch or hear something, they can consider those elements into how much they feel or hear, further associating them with numbers.
Example of a Singapore Math Problem
To further illustrate the uniqueness of Singapore Math, here is a sample problem from 4th grade curriculum. This particular problem on fractions demonstrates how Singapore Math uses diagrams to make calculations of fractions more interpretative.
When a student is required to solve a fractions problem in Singapore Math, they are often prompted with fraction bars, pies, or symbols. Through this, students will more intuitively understand that 1/3 is equivalent to 2/6 or that 1/2 is equivalent to 3/6 instead of simply thinking it in abstract fraction terms. This model can be done at home by using pie charts to illustrate the value of fractions, and then stacking them together to solve.
Bring Singapore Math to Your Home
Without a shadow of a doubt, Singapore Math is a unique approach in learning numbers through visual and sound cues. In turn, students learn math in a more efficient and effective way.
I personally taught Singapore Math in California to junior high students who started out with a D average. Once I switched them over to the approach used by Singapore, they began to have a clearer understanding of how mathematics actually worked and not only improved their capabilities, but ended the year with a B average - an incredible feat! By using visual and tangible objects, the students were able to grasp concepts they had struggled with for a long time.
Interested in learning more about this revolutionary approach to teaching and learning math, or even how you can help your child at home? Consider enrolling in Monster Education Singapore Math classes of just 4-6 kids per video classes taught by teachers with at least a decade of Singapore Math teaching experience.
Tamar Hela is a part-time Professor of Business at Emlyon Business School in Lyon, France and has 20 years of education experience. Tamar is a former mathematics educator from the Silicon Valley and has taught Singapore Math among other mathematical approaches.