Singapore Math is a cohesive, deep, and focused mathematics curriculum for kindergarten through seventh grade with the goal of developing algebraic thinking.
The Singapore Math method is a highly effective teaching approach originally developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education for Singapore public schools. The method has been widely adopted in various forms around the world over the past twenty years following its introduction of the curriculum to the U.S. in 1998.
Singapore Math is a cohesive, deep, and focused mathematics curriculum for kindergarten through seventh grade with the goal of developing algebraic thinking. Algebra is a systematic approach to describing patterns and relationships and finding unknown numbers or quantities. It is a complex tool and body of knowledge, requiring strong mathematical skills. The explicit study of algebra begins in eighth grade, and the Singapore Math curriculum is the strongest available to prepare students for that challenge.
The Singapore Math curriculum presents math problems first concretely, then pictorially, and only after these steps are they presented in abstract terms that we recognize as an algorithm. For instance, students might begin with a problem of adding apples, say 2 apples and 1 apple. They might use disks, blocks, or other objects that illustrate more and less and what it is to regroup. The next step would have them represent the problem on paper, using units, likes 1s, 10s, and 100s. Finally, they would encounter the problem as 2+1=3. The benefit of this multiple representation approach, which treats the algorithm as present all along but not uncovered immediately, is the principal way in which Singapore Math develops number sense.
How is Singapore Math different from the way math is widely taught in the U.S.?
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.
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Singapore Math for Parents Night (October 4): Download handout