Monday, February 22, 2010

Singapore Math

A long time before we started homeschooling, Mike & I researched what kind of curriculum and such we wanted to use for Micki.  I know that one of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility to change curriculum to meet your child's needs and learning style.  Thankfully, God apparently lead us the right way to begin since the Classical style seems to fit Micki well.  Obviously from the title of this article, we choice to try Singapore Math for our math curriculum which also seems to be a good fit.  I was going to tell you a little about it and give you an example.

This is from Cathy Duffy Review--Primary Mathematics/Singapore Math
Originally published for the schools in Singapore, Primary Mathematics has taken the homeschool market by storm, and with good reason. This program teaches children to think mathematically rather than just having them memorize the mechanics of problem solving. And it’s very reasonably priced.

Primary Mathematics is more advanced than just about every other math program used in the U.S. The scope and sequence does not align with state or national standards. For example, it leaves graphs, statistics, and probability for upper levels rather than teaching these concepts in elementary grades. Instead it focuses on laying a solid foundation in basic concepts and processes using a three-step process, taking children from concrete, to pictorial, then abstract approaches to learning. The Primary Mathematics series has levels 1-6 which cover material for approximately grades 1-7. . .

Placement tests are available at their website as well as at Sonlight's website. If your child is not starting at the beginning of the program, it is vital that you use the placement test to determine the appropriate level. It is not unusual for a child to place one or two level below their official grade level.
The one "complaint" I read most often relates to "...think mathematically rather than just having them memorize."  It does not promote rote memorization of math facts, but let's face it, that's easy enough to fix with flash cards, timed drills, computer games, etc.  I have also noticed that frequent practice breeds familiarity as well.  I have never used one of the the teacher guides yet, so I don't know what it recommends, but adding your own manipulatives would be part of the "concrete, to pictorial...approaches to learning." 
We started Micki with Singapore in pre-school so that she would just grow into the curriculum naturally.  Here's an example of  teaching them to think mathematically.  Last year, Micki learned her tens and ones places.  Again, using manipulatives like unicubes that can be combined into a solid rod of 10 really helps. 
So, this year in book 1A after we started basic addition, the book reviewed the number places.  There were picture in which Micki had to circle a set of ten and then write the number by noting how many ones and how many tens.  It might sound more confusing than it acutally is.  For instance, there is a picture of 12 fish.  You circle 10 of them.  That means you have 1 set of ten and 2 ones or 12!  Well, guess what?  A few pages later after practicing seeing the teen numbers as tens and ones, it only make sense that means if you have a 10 and a 6 you make 16.  Eventually, you take the wording away and replace it the mathematic symbols, so
10 +4 = 14.
It doesn't end there.  Again a few pages later, we practice adding "bigger" numbers.  We have the math sentence 3 + 9 = and a picture of baseballs.  Well, let's see if there is a set of 10 baseballs and circle it.  Now we have a one set of 10 and 2 ones, so 3 + 9 = 12.  So, we take what we learned for place values and adding 10's and apply it to other addition sentences. 
That is an example of "thinking mathematically." 
Oh, they also introduce subtraction along with addition instead of after addition.  The reasoning is that if you learn that you can put together 3 and 4 to make 7, it's not that hard to take 7 apart by making 3 and 4.
Well, I hope that is helpful to anyone that is considering Singapore Math.  So far, it has seemed like it fits Micki very well.

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