Singapore’s math curriculum gained international interest when the students outperformed children in other countries to score the highest in math and science in a 2003 study.
In the same study, Asian students did very well in the mathematics section, with Singapore, Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong occupying the top positions. For age group between 9 to 14, Singapore was top in mathematics.
The term “Singapore Math” evolved in United States back in 2000 when mathematicians, media sources, and education pioneers referred to the Singaporean Primary Mathematics textbooks as “Singapore Math”. Today, “Singapore Math” refers to the approach to mathematics instruction and a collection of math teaching strategies common in Singaporean classrooms.
Singapore Math Education
Singapore Math emphasizes the development of strong number sense, excellent mental-math skills, and a deep understanding of place value. It includes a strong emphasis on model drawing, a visual approach to solving word problems that helps students organize information and solve problems in a step-by-step manner.
Singapore math emphasizes on problem solving which is more than knowing math facts and mastering procedural skills. More fundamentally it requires numerical reasoning, concept formation and an intuitive sense towards math problem solving.
Learning Singapore Math
To learn Singapore math, one has to first train his memory for facts and numbers. Basic knowledge becomes consolidated in long-term memory and math facts and procedures gradually become automatic. This automatically frees up the processing load on the brain to allow it to dedicate more mental energy to higher-order tasks of reasoning and complex problem solving.
Singapore Math Assessment Books
Many parents do not really understand how to help their children excel in Singapore math and so they start with visiting bookshop to seek help. As it turns out, assessment books are bestsellers in bookshop. There are hundreds of author writing assessment books on Singapore math. As there is no regulation on the writing and publishing of assessment book, writers and publishers are free to invent their own definition and methodology on how to learn Singapore math.
Singapore Math Syndrome
Parents who purchase Singapore math assessment books often find themselves not able to help their children on the math questions. This soon develop into “assessment book syndrome” as parents consult friends and relatives about what assessment books are suitable and make more purchase, only to realize that all Singapore math assessment books are beyond their ability to teach.
Parents who are financially strong would naturally want to invest further to find help for their children to work on these assessment books, which they believe are important for their children to excel in Singapore math. They would send their children to enrichment centres and tuition centres and expect these centres to help their children do as many assessment books as possible, believing that this is the way to polish their mathematical skills.