Singapore Math Meaning & Explanation

Singapore Math differs from other methods not only by content, but also by philosophy. To be successful in math, the foundation of Singapore Math is not rote memorization, but the development of problem-solving skills and mathematical thinking. When it comes to learning increasingly complex math, students will not have a solid foundation to draw from.

However, this does not mean that students learn simplistic skills in elementary school. Rather, a student should be given as much time as necessary to master a concept or skill when teaching it. Therefore, you won’t assume that earlier skills can be taught again if needed when you move on to the next concept. Teachers can simply revisit instead, opening up more instructional time.

Curriculum for Math in Singapore 

In 2007, U.S. educational publisher Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt teamed up with a leading academic publisher in Singapore to publish and distribute a math series entitled “Math in Focus: The Singapore Approach.” This series is the only curriculum package for teaching from the math method available to United States educators and parents.

There are textbooks, workbooks, teacher guides and home study guides included in the Singapore curriculum. Books introduce new concepts, workbooks give practice, and guides give lesson plans and instructions for using the books.

Singapore Math Pros

Singapore Math’s unique focus on building problem-solving skills aligns with the Common Core State Standards.6 While some people see this as a benefit, others find it more detrimental.

Some find Singapore Math confusing for children to learn as part of a Common Core Standards framework and find that it unnecessarily complicates the teaching of mathematical principles to young children.


Singapore Math is popular with homeschoolers, private schools, and public schools alike—and for good reason. Research into the pedagogy of countries whose students excel in math, like Singapore and Japan, has found these countries’ use of diagrams in teaching math can provide a valuable bridge between early and advanced learning stages and encourage intuitive problem-solving skills. Some benefits of Singapore Math include the following:

  • It asks for students to build meaning to learn concepts and skills instead of rote memorization of rules and formulas.
  • It aligns with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
  • It covers fewer topics in a year but in an in-depth way that ensures students have a foundation to move forward without needing to relearn concepts.
  • Textbooks and workbooks are simple to read with clear and concise graphics.
  • Textbooks are sequential, building on previously learned concepts and skills, which offers learning acceleration without additional work.

How is Singapore Math different?

Singapore Math differs from other math curriculums in its approach. Instead of rote memorization and drilling concepts through similar problems, Singapore Math teaches students how to mathematically think so that they can rely on the theory and build on concepts.

How can I help my child with Singapore Math?

Remember that Singapore Math utilizes a progressive learning process that includes helping kids understand the concrete, the pictorial, and the abstract. If you are your child’s teacher, be sure to utilize the teacher’s guides, which offer lesson plans and instructions. Whether you are homeschooling or supporting a child who attends public or private school from home, you may find online communities, like Singapore Math’s Facebook group, helpful.


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