How Effective is Singapore Math as a Teaching Curriculum?

I am a BIG fan of the Singapore Math Workbook curriculum series that is used in Singapore (they speak English!).  My kids use it to supplement University of Chicago’s Every Day Math which I don’t love as much (too New Math for me!).  I find that Singapore Math is both visual and intuitive plus it has plenty of math fact practice that Every Day Math lacks.

I came across this article and wanted to share it:

How Effective is Singapore Math as a Teaching Curriculum?

Kids in Singapore currently have some of the top math skill sets found anywhere in the world, plus the approach employed to guide them is making substantially better test results in math for many other kids all over the globe.  A lot of these spectacular outcomes are creating lots of mystique surrounding the  “Singapore math method, ” however in fact it is not all that exceedingly different in terms of the special techniques used to teach math. The particular extraordinary differences instead result from the way a lot of these approaches are applied and integrated.

How is Singapore Math being taught?

Singapore math is explained in a true spiral, meaning that every fundamental subject is explained, and the revisited repeatedly, each time at a increased phase and combining more advanced and complex topics. Other methods tell you they teach on a spiral, but in fact it can be more of a circle, with every pass through a subject starting at the beginning. Singapore math presumes and involves the children to retain what they learn and develop upon it.  Repetition is vital in any type of mathematical education, but in Singapore the repetition is frequently involved into getting to know the subsequent concept, so that this feels to the kids like progress and uncovering and not just repetition for the sake of it. This brings about greater retention with less perceived effort on the part of the individuals.

Math is also coached on a progressive continuum from the concrete through the abstract. Concepts are first presented in physical, tangible form, then as those common concepts are repeated up the spiral, they’re described visually together with images, before eventually shifting to actual abstract representations.  Probably the most renowned aspect of the Singapore math method is the considerable use of line segments graphically represented as multi-colored bar models. While the employment of this kind of line segments to aid in visually representing mathematical concepts isn’t unique, the use of these types of bar models in Singapore texts has attracted significant global interest. They have attracted so much attention, in fact, that the focus of many worldwide education authorities has been almost solely on these models.

Textbooks and curriculums based on the Singapore math technique are now in use in many countries, such as the united states and Israel. Students utilizing these materials are already displaying meaningful gains in mathematical test scores. Then again, there are many reasons restricting the spread of this approach, including a lack of teachers qualified in the proper application and utilization of this curriculum, and some problems in adapting the Singapore method publications to fit with state and local schooling requirements.

Overall, the Singapore math method is child-focused, and seeks to make sure that the student gains a full and complete knowledge of the underlying mathematical concepts, rather than just memorizes a rote collection of facts. This method not only enhances mathematical understanding, it also offers a firm foundation from which broader mathematical principles can be extrapolated. For instance, Singapore students scored better on assessments of statistics, even with no formal statistical training, than equivalent United States students who had received a unit on statistics each year as part of their traditional math curriculum.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. ck

    What you wrote here is the ideal of the curriculum. When I first learn about it, I really think that it is revolutionary in Math education. But how effective it is boils down to how it is being executed. Even in Singapore, the execution is arguably going the wrong way.

    • Hi CK,
      You are right about execution being the key but I think it also makes a great summer curriculum to prevent summer slide. We also use it for supplementation during the school year for concepts that are confusing. I do really like it as a math curriculum.

  2. good points. i codniser myself good at math and have always made at least a b most semesters. i failed math freshmen because i had a really bad teacher, and i think it would benefit us as a population if we are learning precalc and calc, just dont cram it down our throats haha but another good point on 5, a class with material that would benefit us financially would be amazing and about making the classroom environment more fun, in my math class we sit in groups of 4 and collaborate. this works

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