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When I began to research math curricula before I began homeschooling, I had two main criteria. I wanted a program that would teach math in such a way that it is understood by the student, and I didn’t want to pay a fortune for it. I found several curricula that didn’t meet either requirement, a few that met one of my requirements, and one that met both of my requirements. My choice was Singapore Primary Mathematics.
Singapore Math was the official math program used in the schools in Singapore from 1982 through 2001. It uses a Concrete–> Pictorial –> Abstract sequence to teach new concepts. It also utilizes a mastery approach to mathematics in which one concept is introduced and practiced thoroughly before adding to it with a higher level concept. It does however, introduce all of the operations and various other concepts such as fractions and decimals in the most simple manner before moving on to another topic. Topics are then revisited in later books. There are also periodic reviews in the text. So it is not a mastery program in the purest sense, but would not be considered a spiral program.
Singapore Math has an emphasis on word problems that sets it apart from other math programs. A unique visual method using bars to illustrate quantities enables students to solve problems that are more typically solved using algebra. The problems are widely varying so that students aren’t able to memorize a method, but need to think in order to determine the solution.
Ease of Use
For each school year there are two textbooks and two workbooks. Each lesson in the textbook is correlated with one or more workbook exercises. In our home, I go over the lesson in the textbook orally with my student before having him complete the workbook problems independently. The workbook exercises typically contain few problems per page. I have found the few problems to be a good fit for my children who are easily overwhelmed by long assignments. Also available are Home Instructor Guides that include additional explanations for the instructor, reinforcement activities, manipulative ideas and answers to the problems.
Each year of Singapore Math includes 2 softcover texbooks and 2 workbooks that retail at $9 each. The optional Home Instructor Guides are $16.50 each. That equals one year of math curriculum for as little as $36! Plus, the textbooks and Instructor Guides are non-consumable so they can be used for younger students, further reducing the cost of the program. I have been extremely pleased with Singapore Primary Math. My oldest child has almost completed the series and has an excellent understanding of mathematics. I believe this series is terrific preparation for algebra and other high math courses.
For more information on Singapore Math visit their website, www.singaporemath.com. Included on the websites are tables of contents for each text, sample pages, and a placement test.