I first heard about Singapore Math from an executive candidate whom I was actively pursuing for a very senior position for the largest software company in WA. He was “a highly sought after” executive living on the East Coast and his reluctance to accept our offer was in part because his two young children were attending a prestigious private school in Manhattan and where he said, they were learning “Singapore Math.” Originally from Singapore and formerly a teacher who has never lost my passion for education, I was intrigued to find out more about Singapore Math and why would this be an important consideration for the education of young children.
As it turned out, there was no shortage of information on Singapore Math as the curriculum has been gaining positive international attention since 1995 when Singapore Math students ranked 1st in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Since then, Singapore Math students consistently outperformed their peers in these international Math studies administered every four years. More importantly, a higher percentage of its students achieved the Advanced International benchmark level was even more impressive. The curriculum is adopted by schools around the world. In the US, Singapore Math has been featured in many publications and media since it was first brought into the country about 14 years ago. The New York Times noted that “today it (Singapore Math) can be found in neighborhood schools like P.S. 132, which serves mostly poor students, as well as elite schools, including Hunter College Elementary School, a public school for gifted children in Manhattan, and the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, a private school attended by President Obama’s daughters.” The Today Show has also reported on how Singapore Math is changing the curriculum in schools across the county.
As CNN reported, “the main goal of Singapore math is to foster problem-solving abilities in students, which helps in all subject areas,” this resonates with my own beliefs and practices as a teacher. As an Economics teacher, my students are encouraged to think” and apply real world situations to their learning to make the subject “alive” and relevant. The very visual, hands on and activity-based approach of teaching Math to young learners; all the while staying focused on building their number sense and Math foundation makes Math real and fun. Students learn to use strategies to make numbers “friendlier” for computation and to turn word problems into visual models that are easier to understand and solve. These computation strategies are so clever, logical and easy to use that many of my “fellow teachers & learners” of Singapore Math wondered “Why didn’t I learn Math this way?”.
As a Singapore Math teacher, I have witnessed some remarkable transformations in my students which solidified my conviction that this is one of the best, if not the best (in my opinion) Math curriculum for our children. My passion for Singapore Math increases when I watch young learners changed from children who memorize counting numbers by rote to children who actually understand the relationships of numbers enough to create number bonds. It is gratifying to watch these kids having fun while scrambling for “paired numbers” in a number bonds competition, not realizing that they are actually working on their addition skills. It was also amazing to watch a student who was initially struggling with 3-digit subtraction become such a whiz at it that he could do complete a bunch of these problems quickly to solve puzzles. All because of a focus on place values which he learn through fun games and exercises. These are just two of many other examples which convinced me that Singapore Math is the Math for our young children.
We hope you will join us for some fun Singapore Math that will change the way children relate to math for a lifetime.