At Cedar Classical Academy, we teach mathematics in a way that is very different from the way you were likely taught. American math curricula tend to show a pre-solved example equation, explain the steps that were taken to solve it, and then assign a number of similar problems. The student solves these problems by copying the approach that was taught to them, substituting other numbers. “Show your work” essentially means “Repeat the work that was shown to you.”
We have chosen a different approach by using Singapore Dimensions. But therein lies the frustration when a child brings home homework. “No two problems are exactly alike!” “What is a bar model?” “I only know how to solve this using algebra!” I want to take the opportunity to
- explain Singapore’s approach to mathematics and
- list some of the ways we can help you be more successful in coaching your child through homework.
In addition to entering the school, entering 3rd Grade is a big transition in mathematics study. If any of these categories fits your child, the information below is for you!
The Singapore Dimensions Approach
The Singapore math method is a teaching approach originally developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education for Singapore public schools in the 1980s. Singapore has consistently had the top math scores of any country. The U.S. curriculum was introduced in 1998. We use the Singapore Dimensions curriculum, which was rewritten and released over the past 8 years. Notably, in Singapore, it is culturally more common for students to drill math facts at home – which is why we supplement Singapore with math drills, math games, number sense activities, and math reasoning activities.
Here is a good place to start in understanding what makes Singapore unique among math curricula. Click here and skip down to the section titled “The Method” (about one third of the way down the page). There are animations and examples to explain four key elements of the Singapore method:
- The Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract (CPA) Approach
- Number Bonds
- Bar Modeling
- Mental Math
Singapore Math Live, which was developed for home school parents and offers live support and videos (for purchase), lays out the advantages, success stories, and street cred for Singapore Math. Click here for the 10-minute video making the case for Singapore.
Ways We Can Help Parents
1. Teacher’s Manuals
We have purchased extra copies of each Teacher’s Manual. These are available in the parent library (the library cart in the lunch room) each year from September 15 to May 15. Please check these out to help you with homework. Some helpful things you can find in the teacher’s manual: (1) workbook solutions, (2) chapter/concept overviews, (3) bar model examples, and lots more!
2. Letters Home
Singapore has written introductory letters for each new unit in Kindergarten and 1st Grade posted on their resource page. Our Kindergarten and 1st Grade teachers send these home each time they start a new unit to help give new parents understanding of this approach in bite-sized pieces as their children progress through it.
3. Office Hours
Our teachers are all available for office hours during the week if you would like to call or video chat with a question from that week’s math homework. Directly after school (3:00-4:00PM) would be a great time for many teachers. You can find your teacher’s contact information in your Family Portal.
4. Social Media
Parents can join a Facebook group to interact with other parents and teachers on how to coach your child through Singapore Math homework. Singapore also has an Instagram page.