I purchased our first Singapore Math books in 2014. Since then, we haven’t looked back. Singapore Math is undoubtedly the strongest homeschool curriculum we’ve ever had.

There are tons of amazing Math curriculum out there when we started homeschooling. Nobody seems to agree on which one works best.

The problem?

I am terrible at Math. My son dislikes Math.

My goal? I need a curriculum that will break it down for us.

Singapore Math was the answer to my prayers.

So, what makes Singapore Math unique? Is it difficult for those who are struggling with Math? What has been our experience so far? What Singapore Math books to buy?

In today’s post, I will answer all these questions. To make it even more exciting, my son, Keefer, will also share his two cents about this Math program.

We’ll begin with the question I hear most often…

**What Makes Singapore Math Different**

According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Singapore scored 549 points in the most recent results. That’s extremely high compared to the global average of 489.

The Philippines earned 353 points.

Let that sink in a bit.

Decades ago, Singapore had the lowest ranking.

So, what did they do differently to improve their students’ performance in Math?

Singapore schools changed **“the way”** they taught Math.

Traditionally, Math requires memorizing steps or formulas. We blindly repeat those steps to figure out a problem.

Instead of tedious calculation and memorization, Singapore Math teaches students to find the answer using various strategies. And understand why they are doing those steps to solve the problem.

The Singapore Math method uses the CPA approach. It starts with the **concrete** approach using objects to work out a problem. Then, the **pictorial** approach using representations of the objects involved in Maths problems. And finally, **abstract** concept using written equations i.e. (1+1=2)

Here is a video from Marshall Cavendish, explaining the CPA approach.

**Is Singapore Math Difficult**

I grew up believing Mathematics is purely for Math people.

Others think being excellent at Math is a genetic gift. It’s either you have it or you don’t. There’s no other way.

We see Math as elusive, unattainable and difficult.

Singapore Math believes that any child can excel in Math. Their success depends on how the concepts are presented to them and the effort they put towards learning.

In my early years of homeschooling, I realized that for me to teach Math effectively, I have to view Math from a different perspective.

I have to *unlearn* the way I was taught and embrace the Singapore way.

Here’s what Keefer feels about Singapore Math.

I wasn’t great at Math back in school. Because of that, I started with book 1B even if I was already in 2nd grade. My mom wanted to make sure that I understand the whys and hows of Math before I move on to the next level.

The textbooks taught me methods on how to solve Math problems, especially subtraction. I understood that to solve a subtraction problem, I have to find the part and the whole. By the time I was almost done with 1B, I got better at it.

Math is so much easier now.

Keefer

**How Long Does Each Lesson Take**

It will require about thirty minutes daily in the early years and about an hour in the upper years.

Lessons are laid out in an easy to understand format. So, there’s no guessing game on what you are going to teach for a specific day.

To be honest, in the early years, teaching Singapore Math can be teacher intensive. But as a parent with no prior experience in teaching Math, it’s a necessary inconvenience. There were a lot of teachable and light-bulb moments.

As Keefer progressed on to the higher levels, he was studying independently. I was there to help when needed.

**Is Singapore Math Aligned with Common Core**

Yes.

If you are looking for a curriculum that is aligned with common core, **Primary Mathematics Common Core Edition** will best fit your needs.

They also have the **Primary Mathematics Standards Edition**. This version is more aligned with the California Public School standards.

We are currently using the **Primary Mathematics US Edition**. It is closely identical to the original Singapore Math program. But includes US measurements and currency.

Singapore Math has recently released another edition – **Dimension’s Math**. I heard positive things about it. So, I purchased a copy of the 6A and 6B books to try out this year.

**Which Singapore Math Books to Buy**

If you’re planning to use Singapore Math, keep in mind that you need the following to teach an entire school year.

- Textbooks (A & B)
- Workbooks (A & B)
- Home instructor guides (A & B)

I know it seems a lot.

Why don’t they put them all in one book?

The answer is flexibility.

We started with 1B and 2A initially instead of 2A and 2B. I wanted to make sure that Keefer has a solid understanding before we jump to Level 2.

Let’s talk about each book starting with the most important.

**Home Instructor’s Guide**

The Home Instructor’s Guide is the heart of the Singapore Math program.

If you plan to use Singapore Math, I highly recommend purchasing the Home Instructor’s Guide. It gives you practical and easy-to-implement strategies to teach Math, Singapore way.

We find it helpful as we move up to 5th and 6th grade which has more complex math and critical thinking.

The suggested weekly schedule also comes in handy. It makes lesson planning easier.

I appreciate that the answer keys for the textbook practices and workbooks reviews are conveniently located at the back of the Home Instructor’s Guide.

**Textbook **

The textbook is necessary for students. The visual examples are easy for students to follow on their own.

Usually, it takes about 10-15 minutes to work on the student textbook. Practices and reviews in the textbook may be done as part of the lesson or independently by the student.

The drawings on the pages are in color but uncluttered. That makes a big difference for me as I usually get overwhelmed with a lot of text and/or pictures on a page.

Keefer

**Workbook**

The student will then work independently on the workbook for approximately 15-20 minutes.

The younger ones have shorter workbook lessons than the older kids of course.

QUICK TIP: Use the Mental Math for additional practice either orally or as a worksheet. You can find this in the Appendix of the Home Instructor’s Guide. |

**Intensive Practice**

It is not necessary to buy this book. However, if you have a child who is highly-gifted at Math, this may be an important resource.

We used Intensive Practice for 2 years as an activity worksheet to keep Keefer busy when we are out and about.

**How Do I Know Which Level Is Right for My Children**

Be very careful about what level you start at. It’s better to start low.

You don’t want your children to miss out on learning the fundamentals.

Click on the button below for Singapore Math Placement Test. This will help you find the right level for your child.

**Is There Too Much Repetition in Singapore Math**

The workbook activities are reasonably short. This is great because too much repetition becomes counterproductive.

The workbook provides “Reviews” every 2 or 3 lessons. It consistently goes back to cover previously learned material without overdoing it.

QUICK TIP: The Review pages may be used as a quiz or a test. |

Keefer had a really difficult time with multiplication to the point that I wasn’t sure if we should move on or not.

We followed the book and moved on to the next pages. We thought of going back to it at a later date. But as I went through the book, sure enough, multiplication is reviewed again. It gave me enough pages to practice until I mastered the topic.

Keefer

**Is Singapore Math Spiral or Mastery**

Singapore Math is neither spiral or mastery according to its publishers.

The US standard normally has about 30 math concepts to cover in a year using the spiral approach. This approach introduces a concept and moves to a new one without expecting mastery. Then goes back to the first concept. This leaves the students bored or clueless because they didn’t fully grasp the concept at all.

The latter describes my 12-year-old self. Hahaha!

Singapore Math covers 10-14 concepts a year. Each concept is taught in greater depth for 2-3 weeks before introducing a new lesson. Later on, the concepts are reviewed again as they move up. This results in better understanding and retention.

I love that with Singapore Math, students spend as much time as needed to master the skills. That way they’re not moving on to the next concept with the thought that earlier skills can always be retaught if necessary. With Singapore Math, they can simply be revisited instead.

I love the way that the lessons are slowly introduced until it gets harder and harder. After that, it jumps to something really easy, like a little brain break. Then it’s back to learning something more challenging. This method keeps me interested and builds my confidence in Math.

Keefer

**Does Singapore Math Use Manipulatives**

Yes. Singapore Math uses ten frames, linking cubes, place value discs and more. We bought ours from **Amazon**.

The Home Instructor’s Guide will tell you which manipulative to use for each level.

There are games and activities that you can play to add fun to your homeschool.

**Is Singapore Math Secular**

Yes, Singapore Math is secular. While that may be a concern for others, I personally have not encountered anything in the books that did not resonate with our values as followers of Christ.

**How Much Does Singapore Math Cost**

The normal retail price for the Textbooks is **$13.50** each. The Workbooks are **$15** each and the Home Instructor Guides are for **$19.50** each. Check out **Christianbook** for the updated price.

**Final Thoughts**

Singapore Math is probably one of the best Math Curriculum out there. It works well for struggling students (or Moms, like me) and those who are mathematically gifted. It is great for parents who just need a reliable curriculum that works for their kids no matter what skill level they are.

Singapore Math has a different way of teaching than most of us were taught growing up. Despite its unconventional methods, it works with phenomenal results.

By God’s grace, Keefer has consistently scored above average on his yearly assessments, learned to study independently and mastered the skills he needed for high school. Singapore Math is a tool. But what really impressed me is Keefer’s perseverance and willingness to learn beyond his comfort zone. That’s something far greater than earning high grades in Math.

Hope you find this post helpful. If you do, pin on your homeschool board. Feel free to share.

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Lenora says

Thanks you for your great review of Singapore Math! My daughter is considering sending her children to a school that uses it, and it sounds like using that program is a big plus!