Educational News

Singapore Math Pros and Cons

Author: Best Brains Apr 12, 2021

An Asian-American girl holds a pencil and works on homework in her room.

Common Core standards rocked the education world when they were implemented in the early 2010's. Parents especially expressed difficultly in learning new ways to compute and to gain math skills that deviated greatly from the kind of math they'd grown up doing.

Compared to other disciplines, the field of educational studies is a young one. While teaching has been a fundamental aspect of the human experience since the beginning of time, the study of how we learn and acquire knowledge is only a couple centuries old. Therefor there is a lot of room to innovate, experiment and test.

STEM fields, particularly math, have a lot of public discourse surrounding them because of how fundamental STEM is to keeping our modern world running. Improving children's scores in STEM and retaining their interest will be key to producing a global workforce that can meet the challenges of 21st century life.

Currently Singapore's students top worldwide rankings for education while the US sits at 27th place. (Canada sits at a respectable 7th place, way to go!) And a lot of people are looking at the curriculum in Singapore as a potential reason why they're number 1. The Math curriculum in Singapore was first developed in 1982 called Primary Mathematics. In the late 90's, an American company began selling textbooks based on the Primary Mathematics and the "Singapore Math Method" began to grown in popularity.

How does the Singapore Method work?

Singapore Math is largely logic-based. That is, it focuses on problem solving as the key to math understanding. The three-step learning model is as follows:

  • Concrete: Manipulatives like number blocks and other physical representations of quantities.
  • Pictorial: Visual representations s of quantities on paper.
  • Abstract: Conceptual ideas of quantities presented in word problems.

How does the Singapore Math Method compare to Best Brains?

While the Singapore Method has a lot of benefits, they are not exclusive. Maybe of the components of this learning method have been implemented by the Best Brains Math program since Day 1.

  • Utilizing word problems – BOTH
    • Best Brains uses word problems throughout the curriculum to help students strengthen math concepts.
  • Balances conceptual and applied math – BEST BRAINS
    • Beyond word problems, Best Brains creates many real-world applications for students to use that reenforce the concept of the week.
  • Sequential, one concept at a time approach – BOTH
    • Students learn best when they can focus on one concept at a time and perfect it before moving on. Both Best Brains and the Singapore method build on skills without backtracking.
  • Year-round approach – BOTH
    • Singapore students don't have long breaks in between school years, so their curriculum is not designed to account for summer learning loss. This can make school implementation difficult. Best Brains courses are designed to be completed in about 6 months, with no long breaks in between levels.
  • Supports Common Core – BEST BRAINS
    • While Common Core does seem to have taken some design inspiration from the Singapore Math Method, many student, parents and teacher report confusion when trying to utilize the textbooks in the classroom. Additionally, teachers using Singapore math require ongoing training, and must purchase new textbooks yearly. Best Brains is designed to strengthen Common Core concepts without overburdening students or teachers, making for efficient learning sessions at an affordable price.

When it comes to educational studies, there is always room for improvement and innovation. Our curriculum team and staff of teachers across the US and Canada are consistently looking for opportunities to make the Best Brains experience better for everyone.

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