At the Lower School, we utilize a math program called Singapore Mathematics after the country where it was first developed and used. Singapore Math doesn’t limit itself to the what and how of Math, although those are important, but focuses also on the why. While getting the right answer is important, Singapore Math helps students “think mathematically” by ensuring they understand the underlying Math concepts and principles at work in a problem.
- What Is Singapore Math?
- Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract Framework
- Math Facts
- How Parents Can Help at Home
What Is Singapore Math?
Singapore Math lessons progress through a regular sequence. Each new topic begins with concrete exploration—usually using some kind of Math manipulative such as counters, place value discs, or snap cubes. After students have discovered the principles at work using manipulatives, Singapore Math moves to the pictorial stage, offering students a visual representation of the math principle at play, often taking the form of a number bond or bar model. Only once students have mastered the math concept at the concrete and pictorial stages does Singapore Math move on to introduce a purely abstract algorithm such as stacked addition or subtraction, long division, or cross multiplication.
In Singapore Mathematics no less than in any other math program, automaticity with basic math facts (2+2=4, 2+3=5, etc.) is crucial. While we devote as much time as we can during the school day to practice with math facts, we strongly encourage all families to reinforce our scholars’ mastery of basic facts through regular practice at home. Good old-fashioned flash cards and timed practice are always helpful.
When it comes time for multiplication, “skip counting” by different denominations can be a great way to practice Math facts! For example, you might ask your child to skip count by 2s starting at 14 (14, 16, 18, 20, 22), or you might ask her to skip count by 5s until you get to 40 (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40). When your child is ready, try more difficult numbers like 3s, 4s, 7s, or 9s. Try skip counting by 11s! It’s not as hard as it sounds (at least through 99).
We have also acquired access to an adaptive, online Math fact fluency program called XtraMath for all Lower School students. Visit greatheartsirving.org/xtramath for details.
Recently, we learned about MathFactLab.com. MathFactLab offers targeted practice with math facts with an emphasis on pictorial representations of the math at work. As mentioned above, lots of exposure to pictorial representations in math are crucial in helping children form strong number sense and, ultimately, fluency with both basic math facts and more complex math concepts. MathFactLab is 100% free, and we encourage parents to set up their own accounts and incorporate it into your child’s math fact practice routine either alongside or in place of XtraMath.
How Parents Can Help at Home
Though it may be different from what parents encountered when they were young, we ask all our parents to support the depth and intentionality of our math instruction by helping their children use strategies and vocabulary taught at school.
Find the Math in Everyday Life
One of the best ways you can help your child achieve mastery is to seize upon opportunities to build math into your everyday life. Ask your child to help with the measuring when cooking family meals. Pose a “challenge” math question while traveling in the car such as, “If Grandma’s house is 20 miles away and we’ve already traveled 7, how many miles do we have left to travel?” or “If we went into the store and apples cost 50 cents each, how much would we have to pay altogether if we bought 12 apples?” Thinking and talking through real life problems like these together helps students see that Math isn’t just a class in school but is a way of understanding the world. It can also make traveling in the car a time to spend in thoughtful conversation with one another as a family.
During one of her recent visits, our Singapore Math expert and instructional coach Beth Curran provided parents with numerous ideas for games to play at home. Click below for instructions on each:
- Make Ten
- Tens Go Fish
- Tens Don’t Count
- Black and Red
- Remainder Game
Math Fact Flash Cards and More
At SingaporeMath.com, you can download free, printable materials to use for playing math games at home, including:
You can also download and print multiplication and division fact cards for:
Ken Ken Puzzles
Beth Curran also recommends Ken Ken Puzzles as a great way to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Find more at kenkenpuzzle.com.
For questions about our math program or anything else in our curriculum, reach out to Thomas.Beyer@greatheartsirving.org or Mary.Pantin@greatheartsirving.org. You can learn more about Singapore Mathematics principles and pedagogical methodologies, visit singaporemath.com.