Why I LOVE Singapore Math

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As you know, I hate Everyday Math. I believe Singapore Math to be a far superior math curriculum.

Singapore Math allows children to master concepts with visual, concrete support. (As opposed to a brief overview in Everyday Math.)

I also love Singapore Math because my nine-year old, the one who hated math, now only sort-of-doesn’t-like-it and readily admits that her math teacher is the best teacher EVER. That’s a huge turn around from last year at this time!

Singapore Math

Why I Love Singapore Math

I’m not a Singapore Math expert but here’s what I can tell you . . .

Singapore Math Basics

Singapore Math “focuses on mathematical problem solving and emphasizes conceptual understanding, skills proficiency, learning of process skills, metacognition, and the development of a positive attitude toward mathematics,” writes Miss Seah Jiak Choo, Director-General of Education, Ministry of Education Singapore. (in The Singapore Model Method for Learning Mathematics) Read about the history of Singapore Math here.

Singapore Math Professional Learning Network says that the “authentic Singapore math pedagogy revolves the idea that fewer topics taught in greater depth at each grade level results in better understanding and retention.

[printable] Singapore Maths Primary Syllabus


My daughter’s teacher, Catherine Gozynski says, “Singapore Math develops reasoning. It’s not memorizing; it’s actual understanding. The big thing in fourth grade is, does this make sense?” She explains that in the primary grades, the emphasis is on place value.


In Singapore Math, tudents use ten-frames to support concrete and visual understanding of place value, numeracy, mental math, fact families, etc. This is what JJ does in first grade. Go to NCTM for an interactive ten-frame to get the idea. See how cool it is? Concrete to visual to abstract!

Singapore Math


Students draw bar models to represent problems and concepts. Gorzynski explains, “The visual bar models help kids make sense of a problem. They are a problem solving tool taking the concrete to pictorial to abstract. It’s all about understanding the relationship and reasoning.”

I’ve copied a story problem below. Drawing the model helps a student solve this problem in a concrete-visual way.

Singapore Math

Bar Model Apps for the iPad – here’s a screen shot:

Singapore Math

Singapore Math in the United States

Where can you purchase Singapore Math in the U.S.?

1. Math in Focus (MIF) from Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt (This is what my first and fourth grader use.)

2. Primary Mathematics Standards Edition

3. Singapore Math options from Sonlight

4. We used these workbooks over the summer to get AJ used to Singapore Math.

another example:

Singapore Math

More Articles

Comparison between Saxon and Singapore Math.
A dad explains why he prefers Singapore Math to Saxon.
Kelli Trainer’s blog, Singapore Math Professional Learning Network
Singapore Math Source from Cassy Turner, her best websites, & her Amazon Store
Kids Activities Learning Games
Number Bonds Game
Singapore Math on Let’s Play Math
Singapore Math on Teacher Blog Spot
A Parent’s Guide to Singapore Math
Singapore Math vs. Everyday Math – One School Who Switched
Homeschooling with Singapore Math on Five J’s

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Mark Morgan Trinidad A

What questions do you have about Singapore Math?

What do you think?

42 Responses

  1. Right, I have never heard of Singapore Math, but it certainly sounds great. As a mom to a special needs child, the idea of “concrete to visual to abstract” is appealing. Using the tens-frames turns this lesson into a multisensory teaching experience, which is not only beneficial for all kids but often mandatory for special needs kids. Thanks so much for bringing this math program to my attention.

    1. You’re welcome — it’s given my kids such solid math understanding! I think you’ll really like it.

  2. Math has always been my favorite subject in school.
    This article brought back good memories.

  3. The Mathematics curriculum which is widely taught in Singapore local schools was designed by the Singapore’s Ministry of Education. I personally love the techniques of Singapore maths so much because there is a lot of focus on the thorough understanding of how to solve mathematical problems using different methods and not just learning by sheer memorising or reciting.

  4. Jeremiah Swenson says:

    Preach! Our school adopted Math in Focus 6 years ago and our MCA results have SKYROCKETED! It took awhile for the staff to adjust to the program but now that it’s sunk in….we are firing on all cylinders! I’d highly recommend Singapore Math to anyone. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jessica L says:

    My son used Singapore math two years ago. We found it requires a lot mental thinking without using tools. The drills were very boring for a kid. We quit after 3 months. At the time when we were looking for a good home leaning site for regular US math, my teacher friend recommended Beestar to us.
    Now we’ve been using Beestar for more than a year. This site offers many core subject programs. The best thing is, its math program is totally free. It sends weekly practices that including very representative questions. I’ve seen some, the questions cover almost every math skills. They look very interesting. Many have vivid pictures to help students comprehend math words. The reward policy is motivational as well. My son loves using it and I have seen his significant progress during this year.

  6. Singapore math is very popular, and for good reason. It articulates the tools that help the most – natural drawings.

    Often my students will ask for help on a problem and my first question is, “Did you draw a picture?” Sometimes they don’t know what picture to draw because it’s not of a fenced area or pizza. Instead it’s very much like the Singapore method: give your values something to hold onto.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  7. Oooh!!!! I had a love/hate relationship with math. I found it dull unless I was using it as a tool to discover something I wanted or needed to know. I think I was the opposite of many kids. I loved word problems, fractions, geometry (because there were shapes to figure out the size of, not just hundreds of practice problems with only numbers) and doing math in chemistry. I like this because it makes math practical and visual. I always did okay in math even though I often hated it because I was able to pick through information and make sense of it. This does that for you. It takes math out of the obscure and assigns purpose to it.

  8. Therese C says:

    My district will be using Singapore Math this upcoming school year at the middle school level. I was just recently at a training this week learning about the “bar modeling” method. It is definitely going to be challenging to get students to realize the benefits of using this method. I am excited to go to a workshop this summer to learn more about this program and how to effectively introduce it to students.

  9. I love Singapore too – in fact my 12 year old just sent me a text that said: “thank you for making me do Singapore”. She was helping her 8th grade cousin study for her science test – and said she had covered it all in 3rd grade in Singapore!

    A curriculum I use alongside Singapore is “Life of Fred”. It goes one step further and the math is taught as part of a crazy imaginative story featuring a 6 year old who is a math professor. All the math is applied to life and my kids absolutely love it.

  10. I’m really appreciative of this blog! I’ve learned so much! The links are awesome too! Thank you!

  11. Looks pretty similar to Investigations…which is big on number sense, understanding, and contextual problem solving. I don’t really understand why people dislike Investigations. It’s not perfect…and no series is-that’s why NCTM doesn’t endorse any one series, but I think Investigations is the closest.

    I don’t have any experience with or exposure to Singapore math though. It looks decent from what you have shown.

    I can’t say enough about ten-frames…K-2 kids should be using them ALL the time. Especially K-1, and I use them a ton in 2nd because I don’t think they got enough exposure to them previously. It’s important to do a lot of activities around the number 10..so crucial! Primary kids need lots of experience with this and anything involving place value and understanding the number system.

    I would be interested to see how it suggests you teach a larger subtraction or addition problem, and if it is following a procedure… looks like they use a place value method similar to the one from everyday math you posted.

  12. Singapore Math is the name of a method of math instruction made popular by its use in Singapore. It focuses on helping students to understand basic math concepts more thoroughly in the early elementay years, using real objects, pictures, and then words to address math problems.

  13. Hi,

    I am reading your entry with interest. I tried looking for the Bar Model app on Apple App store, but I can’t find it?

  14. Melissa…thank you for including singaporemathblog.com in your review of Singapore math. Math in Focus is published by Marshall Cavendish Singapore Ltd. and distributed by HMH in the United States. It seems like there are many misunderstandings about Singapore math in the US and I spend most of my day helping schools, students and parents understand what it is supposed to look and feel like when it comes to using the program with fidelity.

    As I see it, there is more to turning a classroom into a Singapore math learning environment than simply importing textbooks. It requires a mindshift for educators, training in elementary mathematics and a community of people that admit they want something better for their children. This is not as common as you would think.

    I look forward to reading more about your adventures in reviewing what works. Send me an email if you’d like to interview over a latte!

    1. such an important point about the mindshift, thank you! I hear from Audra that you’re an incredible trainer and expert — can’t wait to talk!

  15. I have never heard of Singapore Math, but it certainly sounds good. As a mom to a special needs child, the idea of “concrete to visual to abstract” is appealing. Using the tens-frames turns this lesson into a multisensory teaching experience, which is not only beneficial for all kids, but often mandatory for special needs kids. Thanks so much for bringing this math program to my attention.

  16. We LOVE Singapore Math. The workbooks are VERY inexpensive. We use them for an enrichment at home to help my son explore new math concepts that his class isn’t ready for as an entire group. He loves the curriculum and always wants to do more than he is allowed to do in the book at a time.

    His school uses a program called Investigations. Any thoughts on that one?

  17. We have used Singapore for three years now. I do like all the visual and problem-solving based approaches, and I chose the texts because they are highly recommended by mathematicians I respect. But I will be honest – my daughter’s not a fan. Mainly this is because she’s not a fan of worksheets, and math is the only class in which we use them.

    To help her, I allow her to do her problems on a white board. She likes that better, but ultimately she prefers DreamBox. DreamBox is an online program that does a lot of the same things that Singapore does, only in the form of an online game. The graphics are cute, and she can earn prizes for each level she masters. The game conforms to her mastery of each topic. It’s pretty affordable too – about $60 for 6 months. You can find them at http://www.dreambox.com.

    However, she’s completed all the DreamBox curriculum, so we’re back to Singapore. The Art of Problem Solving has just this week released the first of their math curricula for younger folks, and I’m about as excited as a kid at Christmas. My order is on the way. Check them out here: http://www.beastacademy.com/ I think it will give her the solid Singapore problem-solving philosophy, only in a more fun format.

    For us, it’s a matter of variety. We use Singapore, but also Khan Academy, Art of Problem Solving, and DreamBox. And when I can come up with something additional, I throw that in there too. I love Vi Hart’s short and funny videos. The variety helps keep things interesting, and the kids seem more motivated. I have a three-part post about the math resources we use, if you’re interested. The first post can be found here: http://gwynridenhour.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/mathquest-building-fairies-and-warriors-with-math-points/

    If you like that one, click on the next two posts for book suggestions and media suggestions.

    I love math talk!! Thanks for the post Melissa!

    1. thanks for the reminder that variety is important in a math diet. Right now, I’m just so grateful we’ve moved out of the dreaded Everyday Math that I’m probably still in the honeymoon phase. 🙂

      1. Oh, I hope you didn’t feel I was criticizing Singapore! It’s a very useful part of our math plan. I just thought it might be helpful to have some additional suggestions for your toolbox. I tend to get carried away with this kind of thing – it’s the librarian in me. 🙂

  18. We have the same sort of issues with math here in Canada, but the program I hate is called “Math Makes Sense.” Singapore Math is great, but in my opinion “JUMP math” is even better. It combines rote learning with guided discovery, so kids can acquire skills they need to conceptualize and “discover” what they are learning.

    Here’s my post about math education and bit about JUMP: http://educationdiva.com/?p=799

    JUMP is a non-profit organization, so the workbooks are very inexpensive.

  19. I’m a big fan of Singapore Math too and I use it at home as supplementation. It’s especially great for my oldest who needs to see math concepts in a visual way.

    I have some posts on Singapore Math that I’d like to share:

    How Effective is Singapore Math as a Teaching Curriculum? http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=7056

    Best Math Workbooks for Home or Summer Supplementation http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=188

    Hope this is helpful!

  20. My son’s school switched from Everyday Math to Singapore Math 2 years ago. I would definitely agree that my son’s grasp of math concepts has greatly improved. The bar modeling is really helpful for visual learning. His school did a lot of research into math curriculums and sent a letter home to all the parents explaining why they thought the Singapore Math program was simply the best out there.
    Thanks for spreading the word about Singapore Math.

  21. Mama of 2 says:

    Melissa, you are too funny! My daughter actually wrote the word hate, which she is not allowed to use, on her subtraction paper. Yes, it is Everyday Math. Thanks for sharing the Singapore Math examples. You have me very intrigued.

  22. Hi,
    This is a very good programme. There is also some programme called MC online (Marshall Cavendish). It is electronical and it has many interesting features that you and your child can enjoy. It consist of Maths, English and Science. Please let me know if you are interested on this amazing programme. And enjoy the Maths through Singapore Maths.

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