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Elizabeth86

a question about singapore math

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Still trying to decide between Singapore primary mathematics and bju math for grade 1 for next year.  We did Singapore this year for K and ds did great.  I would love to do it  for first, but I have 2 things holding me back and making me want something more traditional.

 

1.  I worry I will struggle teaching the Singapore methods I'm not familiar with

 

2.  I worry if/when he attends public school someday, he will be told the Singapore way is not right and he'll have to relearn the traditional way

 

What are your thoughts on these things? 

 

Also, if I do attempt Singapore for first what happens if I don't love it and want to try something new for next year?  Do you think a transition from Singapore to bju would be an easy one?  Also, it seems there may only be a few "new weird math" instances for first grade, so assuming I just HATE the new method, could I just teach the traditional way I know and then move to a traditional math for next year? 

 

I know I can do anything I want, but you know what I'm saying.  I'm asking would this be a good idea or not.  I'd love to stick to one thing all the way through to avoid as many gaps as possible.  I just like the look of primary mathematics better than bju.  BJU just looks super busy and unnecessary to me.  Primary Mathematics looks more to the point and I think ds and I would be fine with that.

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There is not really a "Singapore Way" of performing mathematical operations. The series teaches the same traditional algorithms that are taught in schools. The difference is that the series helps you present more than one way to think about how to solve problems, and introduces learning how to problem-solve using pictures rather than relying only on verbal hints and abstract algorithms. You can show the child the mental math processes that are recommended in the series and then move to whatever problem solving method is easiest for your child to do. But you don't need to worry about missing traditional ways of problem solving with Singapore. It is all in there.

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Disclaimer: I've only done Singapore Earlybird-3B

 

I was unfamiliar with the Singapore method, but I have found the HIG invaluable. I think you are really, really not mathy, it could be hard? But if you're decent at math it's easy to understand the method. But that is just my opinion/experience! 

 

I worry here and there that if she went to school they'd tell her she was doing it wrong, but really, that can be true of any math, because different schools use different methods. Here a watered-down Singapore style seems to be what they're using.  But honestly...I'm not sure someone looking at her paper would know that she wasn't doing it the "traditional" way except that she can do so much in her head. But she knows how to do the algorithm and it looks like anyone else's. The difference to me is how strongly they understand the concepts first. 

 

Just based off what I've observed, I think it's pretty easy to transfer from Singapore to anything else, but a little harder to transfer from other maths into a Singapore-style math. 

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There is not really a "Singapore Way" of performing mathematical operations. The series teaches the same traditional algorithms that are taught in schools. The difference is that the series helps you present more than one way to think about how to solve problems, and introduces learning how to problem-solve using pictures rather than relying only on verbal hints and abstract algorithms. You can show the child the mental math processes that are recommended in the series and then move to whatever problem solving method is easiest for your child to do. But you don't need to worry about missing traditional ways of problem solving with Singapore. It is all in there.

 

Ok, so I never new this. 

 

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Thanks for the replies!   Another question on my mind.  I hear that math facts aren't in the lessons daily, you kind of have to do that on your own?  Is this right?  If so, what do you use for math facts.  I'm looking around for an online game that would help.  I think my ds would enjoy this more than say flashcards.

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It's almost ridiculous that I worry about this because I STILL don't have math facts 100% memorized.  Literally, I see 9 + 7 and I CANNOT come up with 16 as the answer off the bat, I say 7+7is 14+2 is 16 and I did AWESOME in math classes in high school, but I struggle with basic math facts even though I made straight A's all the way through Calculus. 

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We love Singapore. I've used it with three kids with fairly different learning styles and abilities. It's worked for them all. 

 

I think when people talk about the Singapore "way" they often are referring to the bar models for solving word problems. Those are not like anything I've seen elsewhere, although I'm not a Math expert. My oldest used them some but didn't always need them. I showed him how to set things up algebraically fairly early and he would just do that. They work great for my middle son who is less "mathy" and who is more visual. There is also an emphasis on mental math in Singapore that isn't in other programs. And as someone said earlier, they will often show you the kids multiple ways to solve a problem rather than one algorithm. 

 

For math facts, we've used a variety of things. At an early age I mostly used games. We have several favorites from Peggy Kaye's Games for Math book to memorize the addition and subtraction facts. The games are simple to make on your own. We also played "Math War"....basically normal war with cards but I would have the kid turn over two cards and you had to add them to see who won the hand. Or turn over two cards and subtract. We also have the Right Start Math games box, although I've used that less than other things. But the games are fun in there. Go to the Dump is a favorite for learning how to "make 10". 

 

The HIG for Singapore also has pages of mental math practice in the back. I copy those and assign a certain number...usually one page a week. That helps review facts and helps work on mental math speed. 

 

For multiplication we have mostly used flashcards but done it as a speed challenge kind of game. Or we do a multiplication grid, where they have to fill in all the facts and try to beat their own record. 

 

Edited by Alice

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It's almost ridiculous that I worry about this because I STILL don't have math facts 100% memorized.  Literally, I see 9 + 7 and I CANNOT come up with 16 as the answer off the bat, I say 7+7is 14+2 is 16 and I did AWESOME in math classes in high school, but I struggle with basic math facts even though I made straight A's all the way through Calculus. 

 

 

I will add that one thing I have really liked about Singapore is that I feel all three of my kids have a great foundation in basic math. I also did very well in Math in high school and College but am not great at mental math. The way that Singapore encourages them to use different strategies for mental math helps them to be able to do it very quickly without just memorizing the facts.

 

An example would be that for 9 +7 it would teach them to make 10's...so they think that 9 +1 is 10 and that leaves you with a 6 still to add so 9 +7 is 16. I found that all three of my kids will very quickly manipulate numbers in their heads and are very comfortable doing that. 

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Worry #1) I worry I will struggle teaching the Singapore methods I'm not familiar with

 

 My answer:  Only you can decide if that will be the case.  But IMO, Singapore is VERY easy to teach.   Let me walk you through a typical day using some examples from the upper-level books.   This is about as hard as it gets.   (And it will be even harder for you right now because you haven't gone through the 4+ years of foundation that this example expects you to have.  You are jumping straight into the middle of a 4th grade Sinapore math book.)   

 

This sample is pretty typical of how a lesson works in Singapore math.   So take a look at this lesson and decide for yourself i you could teach it.      (Don't worry if you aren't familiar with the terms array or factor.   Those were all explained clearly in previous lessons.   EVERYthing in Singapore is very step-by-step and incremental. )

 

Let me walk you through a typical lesson using the sample above:

Step 1:  Concrete

First, there is usually an activity which illustrates the math concept using some type of math manipulative.   In the sample above, you are teaching the child about factors.   So you are supposed to take 24 multi-link cubes and challenge the child to arrange them in various groups.   (2 groups of 12, 12 groups of 2, 3 groups of 8, etc.)   At this point, the chid has already learned their multiplication tables, so this is typically a review for them.  

 

As you can see, it is pretty easy to teach.   The HIG explains exactly what to say and even provides pictures of what to do with the manipulatives.  This only takes a few minutes.   The lessons are short and sweet.

 

Step 2:   Pictorial

Next, the HIG directs you to open up the textbook to p. 26 and discuss the same exact concept using pictures in the textbook.  (They show various things grouped the same way as the mulit-link cubes before.)   

 

Step 3:  Abstract

Next, the HIG directs you to do Tasks 1-5, pp. 27-28 (still in the textbook).   

At this point, the child now takes that concept that you just taught them (using concrete objects and pictures) and applies it to numbers in the textbook.   You are supposed to use the textbook to work a couple of example problems with the child.   As you can see from the sample, the textbook gives you PLENTY of help about what to do if you are stuck and need help.  (Plus solutions, etc.)   In this case, the HIG directs you to work the problems with multilink cubes again if needed.  

 

Next, the student is sent off to do the workbook problems.   (In this sample, Exercise 7, pp. 21-22).   I typically have my kids do this part semi-independently so i can check for understanding.  (Not in first grade, but we gradually work towards semi-independence.)   

 

Finally, we check workbook together and the kid fixes any mistakes until there is 100%.   That is a typical day of teaching Singapore.   Only you can decide if that sounds too hard to teach.   I personally think it is VERY easy to teach.

 

If you are concerned about teaching Singapore,  I would suggest that you stick with the standards edition of Singapore.   The Home Instructors Guides for that "flavor" of Singapore math are formatted a little nicer and are easier to use IMHO.   (The content is not all that different from the US edition except that there are more reviews scheduled in the standard edition.  I have used both standards and US and both are nice.  I much prefer standards.)   

 

I would also suggest you take a look at the HIG samples for the upper levels of Singapore.  (Try levels 4A, 4B, or 5A, and 5B)  Read through those and see if they make sense to you.  

------------------

 

Worry #2)  I worry if/when he attends public school someday, he will be told the Singapore way is not right and he'll have to relearn the traditional way

 

 My answer:  Singapore does teach children the traditional way so they will not have to relearn anything.  However,  It just also teaches them to understand the conceptual reasons so they understand why the traditional process works.    

 

Let me give you another example to illustrate my point:   In a lot of math programs, they teach kids how to stack numbers and "borrow" to subtract.  (Traditional method.)   Then they give you a million practice problems and drill that process until you can do it in your sleep.  (Traditional method.)   But in sinapore, you work a BUNCH OF problems with manipulatives first so you can see exactly what happens when you "borrow numbers".   But you also practice stacking the numbers and working things the traditional way.  (Plus, you also learn tricks for doing the problems mentally.)   So you learn more...not less.  

 

AND if he ever has to go back to public school, he will probably be so advanced in math, that he ends up teaching all of the other kids how to do their math homework. :)   I'm not saying that to knock traditional schooling.   It has more to do with the order things are introduced in Singapore.   Things are typically introduced earlier in Singapore math than they are in other math programs.  If you stay on grade level with Singapore math (example do Singapore 2A and 2B in 2nd grade), your child will always be ahead of most traditional kids in math.  My kids are NOT math whizzes.  We do "just" regular Singapore math with the workbook and textbook.   And they always test very, very well in math.  Singapore makes it easy to teach. 

 

ETA:

Now, there are some schools that have adopted some crazy math instructional methods since common core was first introduced.   I think (hope!) things have gotten better since schools have had a chance to adapt to common core math instruction.   I think the curriculua has been improved.  And not all schools using common core have gone off the deep end, but some have.  lol

 

For example, My good friend teaches 4th-grade math here locally, and she was showing me how they are now told to teach long division.   Now...long division has not changed since we were kids.  It isn't like it has evolved and you suddenly need to know a different way to do it.  Division is still division.  

 

However, they way they were trying to walk the kids through the process was VERY confusing.   HOWEVER---because I had my "adult singapore education" from teachng my kids, I could at least grasp what they were TRYING to do and understand the process.   (I still think they were over complicating things.  It is almost like they took the Singapore method, scrambled it all up, and tried to make it new.)  

 

So again, my conceptual knowledge (thanks to Singapore) helped not hindered my understanding.   I think it would help my kids too if they had to go back to public school.   They might have to learn to "play the game" and show the math problem worked how they teacher wanted it...but I think they would still have a solid conceptual understanding as a foundation.  

--------

Now, that is NOT to say that Singapore is perfect.  

 

One con to Singapore is all of the books.   But that is also one of the pluses to Singapore.   If you use Singapore math as written, you will need the Home Instructors Guide (HIG), the textbook, and the workbook at a minimum.   (That is three books for the first half of the year!)    For the vast majority of kids, this will be all you need.   (The idea is to give them JUST enough practice to understand math, but not so much to kill their joy.)  

 

THEN, there are all of these other books you can buy to customize how much practice your kid needs.   

 

Let's say you have a child who is a math-whiz and the standard workbook isn't challenging enough.   Well, then you buy the Intensive Practice and Challenging Word Problems book.  (The workbook's word problems are pretty challenging enough IMHO!  But some kids like MORE of a challenge.)  

 

Or, let's say you have a child who needs more practice before moving on, then you can buy the optional Extra Practice book.   But, lets just say that you have a child who struggles in one particular area of math.  For example, your child gets everything, but struggles with mental math.   Well, then there is a mental math book.    It goes on and on.  

 

 I think the multiple book issue is sort of a con because it can be overwhelming to new homeschoolers.   My advice to combat that problem is start out with the workbook and textbook and HIG.  Only buy the other books IF your child shows a need.   

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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1.  I worry I will struggle teaching the Singapore methods I'm not familiar with The home instructor guides are really helpful for this. They lay it out step by step.

 

2.  I worry if/when he attends public school someday, he will be told the Singapore way is not right and he'll have to relearn the traditional way. The way of LEARNING Singapore may be a little different, but the way of DOING is generally not. i.e. the algorithms used for multi-digit arithmetic are the same, but the student (and the parent) usually have a much better understanding of WHY it's done that way. It's not "rote" memorization.

 

What are your thoughts on these things? 

 

Also, if I do attempt Singapore for first what happens if I don't love it and want to try something new for next year?  Do you think a transition from Singapore to bju would be an easy one?  I am not familiar with BJU, but you should have  little to no trouble transferring to a traditional math program. Also, it seems there may only be a few "new weird math" instances for first grade, so assuming I just HATE the new method, could I just teach the traditional way I know and then move to a traditional math for next year? I'm not sure you'll see anything "new" or "weird" , but yes, if the concrete-pictorial-abstract really isn't a good fit, then you should be fine teaching your way.

 

I know I can do anything I want, but you know what I'm saying.  I'm asking would this be a good idea or not.  I'd love to stick to one thing all the way through to avoid as many gaps as possible.  I just like the look of primary mathematics better than bju.  BJU just looks super busy and unnecessary to me.  Primary Mathematics looks more to the point and I think ds and I would be fine with that. I really love Singapore for those same reasons. We use US edition because it is the most uncluttered. Hope that helps!

 

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Thanks for the replies!   Another question on my mind.  I hear that math facts aren't in the lessons daily, you kind of have to do that on your own?  Is this right?  If so, what do you use for math facts.  I'm looking around for an online game that would help.  I think my ds would enjoy this more than say flashcards.

 

I am also terrible with math facts.   :)

 

 I have my kids do xtra math every day ONCE they understand what is conceptual happening in addition/ subtraction / multiplication / addition.   (I actually think it is good for kids to solve multiplication with repeated addition for awhile before I stress memorization.  That way they really get what is happening.)    Xtra math is not fun...it is basically electronic flashcards.  (The difference is that it keeps track of which facts your kids are struggling with and gives focused practice and review.)    Xtra math takes 5 minutes and is to the point.   My kids are weird in that they would rather sacrifice getting the thing done as opposed to having fun.   (NOTE:  If you try xtra math, go into the settings and change the default time from 3 seconds to 6 seconds.   Most kids cannot input a number in 3 seconds and might feel frustrated.)  

 

They also loved Math Ninja too.   That is more fun.

 

 My daughter has some learning challenges.  (Dyslexia, etc..)   She cannot just memorize math facts even if she practices every day.  She had to go through this little DVD where they teach you stories to remember the math facts.  (I can't remember the name.)  She found it easier to memorize these REALLY complicated stories and characters than just the numbers.  But again, she is not a typical learner.  

Edited by TheAttachedMama

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It's almost ridiculous that I worry about this because I STILL don't have math facts 100% memorized.  Literally, I see 9 + 7 and I CANNOT come up with 16 as the answer off the bat, I say 7+7is 14+2 is 16 and I did AWESOME in math classes in high school, but I struggle with basic math facts even though I made straight A's all the way through Calculus. 

 

You get better once you have helped your kid through them, is all I can say.  :laugh:  I finally have my 7x 6,7,8 down. 

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You get better once you have helped your kid through them, is all I can say.  :laugh:  I finally have my 7x 6,7,8 down. 

 

I have a B.S. in mathematics, an M.Ed. in Math Ed, and have taught HS math for over a decade... for the life of me I *still* can't memorize 7x6, 7x8, or 6x8! It's like there is a hole in my brain where those numbers should go. It brings me great shame.  :banghead:

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Still trying to decide between Singapore primary mathematics and bju math for grade 1 for next year. We did Singapore this year for K and ds did great. I would love to do it for first, but I have 2 things holding me back and making me want something more traditional.

 

1. I worry I will struggle teaching the Singapore methods I'm not familiar with

 

2. I worry if/when he attends public school someday, he will be told the Singapore way is not right and he'll have to relearn the traditional way.

1. Use Primary Math Standards Edition and USE the home instructor guide. It's very good at walking you through teaching

 

2. Singapore is what Common Core Math wanted to be, only Singapore does it right. I don't know your option for school in the event he returns to school but odds are he will be well-prepared if not ahead by using Singapore now.

 

 

The Singapore method is different, but if you are open minded and use the HIG you can do it. You will probably find you learn a lot about math yourself. And yes, you could switch back to traditional American math without harm. Singapore just enriches the student's understanding of WHY things happen in math and OTHER WAYS to reach the same solution.

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With regards to math facts, I don't make them memorize or drill facts. They learn the concept, they make a multiplication chart, we laminate it, and they can use it as needed. I guess I do give them the Mental Math sheets in the back of the HIG and no chart for that, so a tiny bit of drill. But what I find is that when the kids engage in meaningful problems that use the facts (but aren't about the facts) they see the value of internalizing the facts. After looking them up so often they find it's quicker to memorize them. And they just learn them, naturally.

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Thanks a lot. So, please clarify. In singapore math you are taught to subtract left to right, correct? Now, do you also practice the traditional right to left. For whatever reason the left to right subtraction seems so confusing. Dh taught himself to do it l to r years ago and swears ut is easier. It makes me nervous. I hate new things.

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Well, I mean, if the problem doesn't require regrouping and can be done in your head, sure, you can go left to right, but any time it requires regrouping or she writes it down it's done traditionally. Now I'm wondering if I missed something...

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Signapore does not teach left to right when there is borrowing but I teach it that way. I feel they can handle problems in their head better and it helps with seeing the place value. It is easier to me now.

Edited by MistyMountain

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It's almost ridiculous that I worry about this because I STILL don't have math facts 100% memorized. Literally, I see 9 + 7 and I CANNOT come up with 16 as the answer off the bat, I say 7+7is 14+2 is 16 and I did AWESOME in math classes in high school, but I struggle with basic math facts even though I made straight A's all the way through Calculus.

But this is a perfectly acceptable mental math strategy and I imagine it doesn't take you very long either. Making 10 with a nine is the slightest bit faster. Or to put it another way, 9 plus any number is ten more minus one. So 9+17 is 27-1 or 26. 9 + 5 is 15-1 or 14.

 

Singapore teaches many mental math strategies and I know my mental math game improved while teaching it. Ds was homeschooled K-1 and went to public school for 2nd grade. He was more than prepared for math in the public school. In fact, I'd say he ended the year where he started it math-wise. He had no difficulties doing math in the public school except where he got a problem marked wrong because he wrote 1/2 instead of 5/10. In ds's case when we homeschooled again in 3rd, he was behind in Singapore math.

 

It's not about doing the right algorithm. It's about understanding how the algorithm works. All of the folks freaking out online about the common core math homework their children bring home wouldn't be if they understood why and how "the way they were taught" works. Most of the stuff I've seen online looks fairly self-explanatory to me and usually the way I would have taught my kids with Singapore.

Edited by mamaraby
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Thank you all for going into such detail for me. I really need that. I talked to dh laat night and I think we are going to order singapore 1a and b and look it over well and if we like it keep it, if not they have a 60 return policy. I may be back with more questiond. Thanks again

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