Singapore Maths vs Traditional Math

Singapore math is the term used by countries other than Singapore to refer to its Math curriculum as developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education. In Singapore, this is simply referred to as “Maths curriculum” (yes, its Math with an “s” following the British English standard which shortens Mathematics to Maths instead of the western shorthand Math). The curriculum contains the framework for understanding, learning and teaching mathematics which aids teachers in delivering quality math teaching as well as specific sequences of topics from Primary 1 to 6. Mathemagis’ Singapore Math program is aligned with Singapore’s effective framework of math learning and pedagogy.

Below is a summary table which shows a comparison of the Singapore Math to traditional Math approaches.

Traditional Math Singapore Maths
Teaches the “hows” (how to add, subtract, multiply, etc) Teaches the “whys” before the “hows” (why do we borrow? Why do we carry in addition? Why is 4 x 3 = 12? Why is there a remainder?)
Focuses on mathematical procedures and formulas Focuses on conceptual understanding of topics so students understand how the procedures came to be and  help them discover the formulas on their own.
Proceeds immediately to abstract ideas (use of symbols and jargon like ‘+’, ‘lcd’, ‘n’) Moves from a concrete then to a visual/pictorial presentation of concepts before introducing abstraction
Covers topics on the four operations, fractions, decimals, ratio, percentage, area & perimeter, measurements, geometry & word problems Covers topics on the four operations, fractions, decimals, ratio, percentage, area & perimeter, measurements and geometry & word problems
Uses purely equations to solve word problems Uses the bar-model approach in solving word problems to develop students’ visualization skills (beginning at the 2nd grade) allowing them to solve complex word problems without using algebra when they reach the 4th grade
Mastery of procedures achieved through repetition and drills alone Mastery of math concepts achieved through a gradual and logical progression of topics on top of exercises with emphasis on word problems
Goal is fast, and accurate computations Goal is to develop analytical thinking skills through an understanding of math concepts and visualization