Singaporean students have consistently ranked the best in math based on the reports of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). One of the programs established by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), TIMSS is a series of international assessments of the mathematics and science knowledge of students around the world. It was first conducted in 1995, and has been performed every four years thereafter with participating students coming from a diverse set of educational systems.
Based on the TIMSS, the proficiency level of Singaporean students is high. They can even solve unstructured problems in unfamiliar contexts. It is not surprising then that schools in the United States and even in the Philippines have adapted Singapore Math in order to boost their students’ math scores.
However, Singapore Math is radically different from the traditional approach in teaching children math. It has a three-step learning model, moving from the concrete (using manipulatives like cubes), to the pictorial (drawing a model of the problem in bar form), on to the abstract (writing numbers and signs). This method proves to be effective, especially to young children. The following are the other advantages of teaching Singapore Math:
- Math can be fun
Young children do not fully understand abstract concepts yet and some students do not enjoy rote memorization and math drills. Because of the use of tangible objects and pictures, learning math becomes enjoyable. It is also fun and engaging to audible, visual, and kinesthetic learners.
- Enhanced math skills
Many students memorize math concepts just to pass. The Singapore method introduces students to a more logical approach in learning math. Calculating arithmetic problems becomes easier and faster even without the use of pencil and paper.
- Learning to think in a different way
Singapore Math teaches students how to think in a different way. Higher-level mathematics is almost purely based on the ability to understand concepts. Through Singapore Math, the mental flexibility of students is developed.
- Layered strategies build upon one another
In the typical “spiral” approach, material is revisited in the course of months or years. This can often be jarring for teachers and students alike. However, it is different in Singaporean curriculum, where one skill set is a foundation for future lessons. The lessons are sequential, building on previously learned concepts and skills, which offer the opportunity for in-depth understanding and mastery.
Studies have shown instant improvement on students’ math skills and literacy through the Singaporean approach. It has been proven that students are able to grasp the method more quickly than the traditional Math. So far, more than 2,500 schools — and an even greater number of homeschoolers — have made the leap. Truly, Singapore Math is a powerful and potent way of learning and teaching Math.
For more information on Singapore Math, email firstname.lastname@example.org