Singapore Math

It’s January and we can hardly believe that we are halfway through the school year. This means that we are also halfway through our first year of Singapore Math implementation in grades K-2 and we are planning for implementation in grades 3-6 next year. Through our visits to classrooms and conversations with teachers, we have had many opportunities to see first hand the value in teaching math the Singapore way.

Singapore Math may be different from the way many of us learned math when we were in school. It is more than just a curriculum or set of textbooks and workbooks. It is an approach to numbers and thinking about quantities that transcends the materials to the goal of teaching math itself. At the heart of the program is a mathematical framework that places problem solving at the center. Through math, it teaches cognitive skills that apply to a variety of content areas and life situations, especially visualization, pattern recognition, communication, and metacognition (thinking about how we think).

Sing Pics

Each new concept is presented in such a way that students move from concrete (manipulation of materials) to pictorial (pictures of objects or counting system) to abstract representations (use of numerals and operational symbols and mental math). There is an intense focus on number sense and place value, two concepts that go hand in hand. Number sense is a student’s overall understanding of a number, and place value is a student’s understanding of a digit’s value due to its position in a number. Finally, there is explicit training in mental math, where students learn how to transition from doing math on paper to doing it in their minds. All of these are invaluable for student learning, efficiency, and math achievement.

The strategies used, such as the number bond and place value mat pictured here, layer on each other from year to year, increasing the power of the tools to highlight increasingly complex patterns and principles.

Sing Pics2

One TCS teacher who is currently using Singapore Math reports, “The way it stays on one subject or skill longer seems to make more sense to and for the students. They are really getting it…” We have witnessed the students’ many aha’s and light bulb moments. One first grade student was overheard exclaiming that she couldn’t wait to get back to school to do more math. And that’s exactly what we’re going for!

Want to learn more about the principles and practices (as well as the methods being used) in your child’s math curriculum? Feel free to take the online training course. It is designed as an introduction for teachers, but parents can benefit from it as well. The course isn’t free, but you might find it worth the investment. The time and energy required is quite manageable.

Also look forward to more information and learning opportunities from us and TCS University coming soon.


Written by Michelle Toma-Harrold and Tom Pittard