So what is Singapore Math? It is an approach to math that teaches children logical, step by step problem solving skills allowing them to make sense of a problem that otherwise may seem daunting, tedious, or overwhelming.
The approach involves several key strategies:
- thinking about numbers
- understanding place value
- finding part-whole relationships
- breaking down numbers into “friendly” numbers, that is, numbers easier to work with, such as 10s
One of Singapore Math’s strengths is its method of teaching students to understand the subject matter in stages, beginning with the concrete, moving to the pictorial, and then focusing on the abstract, where numbers symbolize value. There is a strong mental math component as well. The goal is to build conceptual understanding leading to mastery.
Singapore Math is the term applied to math teaching strategies developed and used in the Republic of Singapore. The program became more popular since the release of scores from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study in 2003 showed Singapore at the top of the world in 4th and 8th grade mathematics.
Children are trained to have excellent mental math skills and to be problem solvers. They develop a strong number sense and a deep understanding of place value. Skills are taught to mastery, then re-visited, but not re-taught. Children begin their study with manipulatives to gain a concrete understanding before they move to the pictorial and visual. After gaining a thorough understanding of basic mathematical concepts, they move to the third step, the abstract mathematical representation, the logarithm. Children taught to use the Singapore method of problem solving score at the top of comparative assessments in 48 countries. (See the TIMMS Report)
To learn more about Singapore Math please see the PBS.org article “What’s Singapore Math?”