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Singapore Math Review by Christine Fieldcustomerservice@singaporemath.com
So what is the Singapore sensation which has the educational community talking? Unless you have been living under a rock, you have certainly heard the rave reviews of Singapore Math. Home schoolers are buying the program in record numbers and the United States Department of Education is spending $350,000 on a two-year study to evaluate the program's effectiveness in the public school setting.
Interest in Singapore's methods exploded after Singapore children, an urban city in Southeast Asia with 3.5 million inhabitants, were ranked first in mathematics in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study in 1995 and 1999. In 1998, Jeffery Thomas and his wife Dawn (who is a native of Singapore) founded SingaporeMath.com, Inc. from West Linn, OR to bring this product to students in the United States. I reviewed their preschool and primary materials and I can understand the enthusiasm.
Work for each grade level consists of manageable, attractive, colorful workbooks and coursebooks for the student, keyed to a two-semester school year. Even at the earliest levels, the focus is not only on rote memorization, but also on using these mathematical concepts to solve problems. For example, after the student learns to count to 100, he is very quickly brought to the point of manipulating that skill. Rather than filling in numerous 100s charts, as I have seen in other programs, the Singapore Math student uses this new knowledge to learn the skill of adding within 100. If the student knows the numbers from 1 - 100, he can be introduced to adding, for example, 53 plus 3, then 22 plus 40, etc. Even in the earliest level, preschool, the student is given some problems to really stretch their thinking skills. For example, the student is shown four toy boxes and an assortment of toys. They are instructed to separate the toys into four sets and to tell why they did what they did. They could sort by type, by numbers of toys, by colors, etc. This is much more interesting than what I have usually done with my preschoolers!
The American student will have to adapt and supplement this program somewhat. First, Singapore used the metric system, so your children will also need to learn the traditional system. The workbooks I looked at showed Singapore currency, but it was noted in United States terms. For example, a $10 bill said "Singapore" on it, but was always referred to as $10.
Another difference to be aware of is the cultural importance placed on math in Singapore. I have read that Singapore children often attend math clubs and have math tutors, in addition to their test work at school. If you use this as your primary program, it wouldn't hurt to include some opportunities for extra drill, such as flash cards and the like. Armed with some manipulatives and drill opportunities, this program is a winner for you and your student!
While the workbooks are consumable, the other materials may be reused. That makes this program affordable and well worth checking out if you are seeking mathematical excellence for your child. Order it at the website or at 503-557-8100