It’s not surprising to hear that someone you know sucks at Math. Unless you’ve got an IQ comparable to geniuses like Einstein, it’s quite expected to experience difficulties in Mathematics.
That’s why there are parents who are willing to pay extra money for private Math tutors or expensive schools that have a proven track record in terms of producing Math-proficient students.
Interestingly, parents who want their kids to be good at Math should consider Singapore Math. Top primary schools in Singaporeproduce some of the best Math students because of this approach to Mathematics. And it’s not an unsupported claim.
Results of an international assessment of student Math achievement called the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) has shown that Singapore got top ranking for fourth- and eighth-grade students in the years 1995, 1999, and 2003. Singaporean students ranked significantly higher than American students.
That’s why many schools in different US states have adopted this method of teaching and, so far, it has yielded favorable results.
Singapore Math focuses on helping students master the how and why of Mathematical problems. It’s all about mastery and not memorization. This approach helps students learn the foundations of Math in a deeper level so they don’t need to re-learn them when they get to a higher level.
This teaches students to master a limited number of concepts each school year. The approach aims to help students understand the subject on a deeper level, to fully comprehend the solutions and not just know the right answer.
There is a huge difference between knowing the right answer and understanding the process of obtaining the right answer. The latter leaves a longer lasting effect on students because they master the foundations. This prepares them for more difficult topics. Mastering problem solving helps students take on more complicated equations. This also gets them ready for algebra and geometry.
Top primary schools in Singapore use a three-step learning process. It involves concrete, pictorial, and abstract learning. This model is based on American psychologist Jerome Bruner’s work in the 1960s, which found that people learn first by touching real objects and then eventually moving on to using pictures and abstract symbols.
The concrete stage allows students to become hands-on with the problem. This uses objects like apples, clips, chips, and other tangible objects. These are effective in teaching basic arithmetic equations like addition and subtraction because students can manually add or remove objects.
The second phase, pictorial, utilizes a diagram so students can have a visual image of the mathematical problem. The usual method uses a rectangular bar which is divided into different parts to represent the figures in the equation.
The advantage of using the bar model is it eliminates the need for students to solve problems by picturing it in their heads. It’s easier to come up with an answer when they can see what they’re trying to solve.
Once the students master these two learning process, they can now proceed with the abstract stage, where they can use numbers and symbols.
What’s great about Singapore Math is one doesn’t have to enrol in top primary schools in Singapore to have kids proficient in Math. There are textbooks that parents can use for home schooling their kids.
Since Singapore Math has been effective in improving students’ comprehension in Math, it’s been used in more than 200 schools in the United States as well as countries like Israel, Canada, and the United Kingdom.