Switching Math - Even if kids are doing fine?


Switching Math - Even if kids are doing fine?

Unread post by cbollin »

Julie L. wrote:Switch to Singapore even if kids are doing fine in math??? ... Julie L.

[editor's note: see the "end of the story" below, on June 10]
Posted: Tue May 08, 2007 11:41 am
Choosing math curriculum can be tough and is such an individual choice.

Here is what I have discovered that looking back I would like to share. I wish I would have known more about Singapore. Singapore 3 is where this program begins to shine. Yes.... my daughter placed right at the end of 4B / early 5A after completing through 6th grade in another program. But, she hadn't learned everything in the Singapore. She could do the computation, but couldn't think about a word problem. She had been "plug and chug" in math. She was not just missing metric and a bit more geometry -- there were other things being missed.

The biggest one was how to think through a word problem that may or may not be directly related to the exact lesson. In other words, in our previous math program, we always knew it was multiplying a fraction in certain sections, without reading the problem. In Singapore, you have 2-step problems. While working with multiplying fractions, you would do that and then have to do one other step to get the final answer. It was a constant review in a way that we were just not doing. We had review -- sorta kinda -- but just not the same way.

Maybe this analogy will help. I described it this way recently. Imagine you are needing to get to the 6th floor of a building. You can take the elevator and you will get there. Or you can take the stairs and get there. Both are good ways to go. Singapore is like taking the stairs --- you get more exercise from it and use more muscle. Now, both of them are good programs. I'm not saying one isn't.

Now that I have "exited the elevator" and "taken the stairs", I just cannot see myself going back. I really liked our previous program. We zipped through the book -- just like you'd take an elevator (easy, quick and you're there). And it meant my daughter could do the computation problems in Singapore 4B (just not the word problems)

I'm not saying you have to switch now or whenever. But I have not regretted switching to Singapore. It has helped move my daughter from the plug and chug variety of word problems to having to think about what she is doing in math.

more than .02 worth.
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Re: Switch to Singapore even if kids are doing fine in math?

Unread post by Lucy »

Posted: Wed May 09, 2007 12:22 am
It is so amazing that you brought this up because I had been thinking about your post. Here are some thoughts from my experience.

My 2 kids are completely different when it comes to learning and understanding math. My son is a natural. I have to give him very little explanation. He sounds a lot like your son. Math was not challenging for him at all. So I had decided to give Singapore a try after talking with David Hazell at length. Amazingly when we started Singapore my son would say things like,"Oh, this is how I do it already in my head." So for him although he had been using a different program Singapore gave him more freedom to work problems mentally. He still does them differently at times. So all that to say that a kid who is a natural at math will probably thrive in any math program and make the adjustments when needed.

I was not going to move my daughter because she was struggling already but she saw Singapore and asked to switch. For her it has been the best move ever. She does not think mathematically naturally so it is teaching her to think that way. I think for kids that do not naturally think mathematically, it is good to teach them how to think about numbers in relation to solving problems. My daughter is more artsy so it is nice to have choices about different ways to do a problem. Once she has seen them all she usually picks one to go with, although she is learning that different methods are more efficient than others at times. Also the problem solving approach makes it very concrete for her.

So your son will probably do great with whatever math he does. So the question is will one program challenge him to a new level of math or allow him to move along at a faster pace?

My kids like Singapore and it is not too time consuming. We spend anywhere from 30 minutes to and hour a day and sometimes that is covering more than one lesson.

So in the end I am with Kelly on talk to your husband, pray, look the programs over and then go for one. I think he will do fine not matter what you choose.

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:22 pm
Recently I heard that to see full results of the program,especially if you switching in the later years, that you need to give it 4 semesters worth of books.

I found this to true with my own kids. Although I did see improvement and certainly not any regression in the first year, it was the test results after the 2nd year that really confirmed that my kids were indeed improving using Singapore. This is especially true for my not so "mathy" kid.

Also for those of you who may decide to switch make sure you do not start in too high a level. Err on the side of beginning too low and moving through the material faster. You may be able to move through some of the books more rapidly than one lesson a day with an older student. Just be sure not to introduce too many new concepts in one day and to go through the material with your kids in the textbook first.
Julie L.
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Comparing - Doing okay, should we still switch to Singapore?

Unread post by Julie L. »

NHMom wrote:My children have done pretty well with math. It's not that it's not working, it's that I'm not sure it's doing enough for them. We do supplement with Singapore's Challenging Word Problems, but the kids don't always understand it because they haven't been taught those concepts.

I'm thinking of switching to Singapore. It's always scared me to death because I'm NOT a mathematically inclined person, but I'm willing to try it. Can anyone help me with this decision?
I will be using Adventures with ds 8 next year. I have used 2 different math programs in the past, but we have switched to Singapore, ds has done 5 lessons in 3B. Singapore has the mental, challenge, and everyday use of math- it really helps to see applied math in exercises, etc. This is important to dh and me. Hope I make sense. So far ds and I are liking Singapore. Although ds was not happy at first because it is making him think more (made it a tad harder)- that tells ya something.

Julie L.

Unread post by cbollin »

Hi Gayle. Your story sounds a lot like my experience. And so does Julie L's story, except I haven't used 2 other programs. I just wanted to share my experiences with Singapore for my oldest child. Here's my story about switching from MUS to Singapore. (long, long answer… and make sure the coffee is extra strength)

Why would I switch if the program seemed to be working? I was comfortable with using something that had a different sequence of topics from other programs -- because if there were little topics that other elementary age children were doing, I could just fill that in.

At first, there was no way I was switching. You should see the callous on my heels from digging into against switching. My oldest is 11 y.o We just didn't think that in 5th grade she needed to advanced to jr. high math. We wanted to be able to go more in depth with the skills she had. Like the others have said --- I was having to add in a lot for real life math with clocks, money, early geometry, real word problems that you have to think.

We did the placement test for Singapore and she tested very far along in 4B and probably could have started in 5A. My dh said -- 4B, work through it quickly. In February we switched. She did 4B, 5A and is in 5B. We are not using Challenging Word Problems book.

Some of our personal hopes with any math program we did would have been to have our children (1) be able to do the arithmetic, (2) be able to do word problems, (3) be able to have to think about how to do word problems.

Many of the math tricks for operations that are in other programs are the same ones in Singapore. Another thing that I have liked a lot about Singapore is the choice of computation problems. Previously, it always seemed that the answers were easy to figure out in my daughter’s head. Singapore doesn’t mind tossing in a problem that you have to work for the answer, or involves multiples of 7’s, 4’s, 8’s, 6’s. Those are harder for my daughter to do in her head. Your mileage may vary.

One thing that we like that we don’t know if/when Singapore does it …was some advanced stuff with repeating decimals and such. But on the flip side of that --- I felt like it was just introducing the vocabulary. It’s along the lines of the debate of when and how to formally study grammar. But, that’s a minor point of the two math programs.

We really like the way Singapore teaches abstract concepts and pre-algebra. Previously we learned about the equations --- but we didn’t really learn how to think about the problem.

Here’s the big problem that my daughter couldn’t believe she was able to solve in Singapore 5A. It’s the problem that I couldn’t believe *I* could teach without using Algebra! I was in the algebra mode instead of the problem solving mode.

Here we go:
Mary and Sarah each start with the same dollar amount. Mary spends $18. Sarah spends $25. Now, Mary has twice as much money as Sarah. How much did each girl start with?

Yikes?!?!?!!? Well, for starters, you wouldn’t have a problem like that in many other math programs, because it would involve putting the X on both sides of the equation and having to distribute a number across something in a set of parentheses ( ) . Mechanically --- we coulda shoulda mighta learned that. But it was not anything that was there.
I started to write on the dry erase board
X-18 = 2(X-25)
My daughter froze. I realized I had no way to teach this problem at this point without using algebra. I didn’t have one of those Home Instructor’s Guides for Singapore and we had not been brought up through the Singapore way. So I emailed a great friend on this message board. She quickly taught me the bar method. We approached the problem from a completely different way with no algebra and wow!

And yes, this was the challenge problem in the regular Student Workbook in Singapore. And no – we had not been brought up on Singapore math using the bar diagrams that are introduced in level 3. So I was totally clueless

So we got out ye ol’e math rods to use as bar diagrams, and did the problem the Singapore way and watched the answer form in front of us. Talk about math that I could see…. I was sold on Singapore for elementary math. (by the way… the answer is $32)

Can it hurt to have other resources? No. Some people even like to use Singapore as their base program and use something else as a break every once in a while. So everything else is not this bad program or anything like that.

Singapore is harder. It requires you to think and work a bit.
I've been known to use a lot of analogies to explain things. With Singapore, I feel like we took the stairs up 6 flights in a building instead of taking an elevator --- more exercise, longer term benefit.

If you decide that Singapore math is the way you want to go, don’t worry about the results of the placement test when they show a book number lower than grade level. Singapore Math’s sequence is different from US grades. Many people are finding that at the end of Singapore 6B, their child is testing into Algebra I in programs like Saxon. My daughter who is finishing 5B just the Saxon placement test for fun a couple of weekends ago and placed into Saxon Algebra 1/2.

wow, you made it to the end of that long story.

Prayfully consider what to do.

Unread post by cbollin »

Oh my… I need to add this in.

One of the main reasons that I didn’t want to switch from MUS was that I thought Singapore was covering too much, too soon, and was too advanced.

Turns out that is not quite my opinion anymore. When I saw that Singapore was doing volume of various geometric shapes and stuff like that --- I panicked. But once we got into Singapore and saw that it was done from a visual and concrete way, I changed my mind. I had in my mind 9th grade geometry and/or 11th grade Trig class. Nah – nothing like that at all.

Another reason that I didn't want to change was that I didn't want to be switching just for the sake of switching and doing what MFW said. It was not a quick change on my part. But one that I'm glad I made. Just like with the language arts suggestions. sigh.

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Unread post by tiffany »

We switched Singapore 2 years ago and have been very happy with our decision.

We switched for a number of reasons. For one I thought the material was too dry and repetitive. We also had one child who was struggling with the curriculum. Plus, as our family size increased, I wanted a program that covered fractions, geometry, time and all the little extras. I didn't want to have to find and schedule in additional resources. The Hazell's recommendation was the catalyst for our switch and was the push we needed to actually do it.

I don't find Singapore hard to teach. The diagrams and examples in the textbooks give me ample illustrations to explain things to the kids (and refresh my own memory.) I have a good math aptitude, but I'm not a math genius. I think teaching this program has improved my own mental math skills.

Posted Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:14 am by tiffany
My kids did great when we made the switch from Developmental Math to Singapore. I was teaching math to my 3 oldest at the time. Two of the kids were math oriented and really liked Singapore better. The other child hated math and Singapore really helped her grasp concepts and cut down on the battles at math time.

I think you have some great options available to you. I would certainly pray over it. I find Cathy Duffy and homeschoolreviews.com to be great resources for reviews.
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Unread post by LSH in MS »

I'm going through a metamorphosis too. I was using Singapore as a supplement but after reading all of the discussions and hearing David's CD on why they chose Singapore, I'm thinking of using Singapore as our main program. THe reasons that I would not totally drop what we are using is that I have all of the books/DVDS and my children love them.

Thanks for all the info. THis is helping me.

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Unread post by TurnOurHearts »

Not much to add, really. Just wanted to chime in. I am not a math person, my son is, and we both love Singapore. Max has done really well with math this year (pretty sure he aced the math portions of his state test), and I feel like I went back to school! I am seeing numbers in a whole new light - and we're only finishing up 2A. :) I have nothing to compare it to, as we started with SM from the beginning, but I have only praise...
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Unread post by niki »

Me too, a switcheroo!

I am diving into Singapore this year starting with 2A for my dd. She likes it and it has helped make a few things "click" that we've been struggling with - looking at something from a new point of view.

My ds who placed at the same level will be starting this fall...I'm giving his big sister a head start. Anyway I have the CD-ROM to play with - they love it. It's good summertime fun, practicing math and they don't even know it. :)

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Unread post by RB »

We switched to Singapore several weeks ago. I heard a David Hazell CD and was intrigued, so we ordered 1A to "test drive". This particular dd (7) is a language arts whiz, but has found math frustrating on several occasions. So, the thing that surprised me is that not only is she really understanding things that she couldn't get in (she could go on autopilot and spit out the answers, but not really understand) but she LOVES Singapore...begs for more... half way through the book in 3 weeks. Of course there was quite a bit of overlap, so I know her pace will slow down, but based on our brief experience it seems like Singapore might be good for kids who are naturally math-inclined, and also those who struggle.

My question is: Are the Hazells EVER wrong ???? :)
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Unread post by NHMom »

Thanks for all of the great replies! I think I'm going to get 1B to do with my daughter over the summer. That'll give me a good idea of how it works for us. She struggles so much with concepts, maybe this is just what she needs. My son, though, could probably do Singapore by himself and do great!

The fact that the Hazell's recommend Singapore has been a factor in my thinking. We've gotten so much out of K and 1st with my youngest and Adventures with my older two. I didn't use their language suggestion this year, but I am going to use it next year. I have a lot of respect for their opinions and appreciate all the research and prayer that goes in to their suggestions.

Thanks again, ladies! You guys are the best!

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If it ain't broke, don't fix it???

Unread post by dhudson »

Posted Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:03 pm by dhudson
I can speak to the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" camp. My oldest (now in 6th) had been in Abeka math since K and did very well. Tested well, computed well, liked math but on an Iowa he scored lower on conceptual math, by lower I mean two points. (I know I'm a little bit crazy) Anyway, it got me to thinking and researching math that was stronger in concepts. Talked to David Hazell, my husband, every other home schooler I knew, thought about it for a year, prayed, talked to David, my husband...etc.... Came time to pick a math for my twins coming out of MFW1, my husband said, go with what David said, so under conditional acceptance I did. (the condition was if I didn't like it I could switch) My oldest son tested into Singapore 4B and the twins 2A. This last year was our first year and it was amazing. My older son enjoyed his math and scored four points higher on the Iowa's and my younger ones ask to do math.

For me, it takes a ton to get me to change a curriculum (don't even ask what it took me to change LA to MFW recommendations) but I do believe in re-evaluating every so often and I've found MFW to have reliable recommendations.

Posted Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:05 pm by dhudson
Move to Singapore! My oldest had done Abeka math until 4th grade and then I moved him to Singapore. David Hazell had talked to me about it for over a year and finally I gave in and I was so very glad I did. I should have done it when he first mentioned it but I wanted to research it more. My mistake ;) .

My son loved Singapore and has done amazing well with it. I still use the speed drills with Abeka math but I love Singapore. Make sure and take the placement test before you buy anything though.
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Singapore math or something else?

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Ohmomjacquie wrote:Hi everyone! Thinking about math for 4th grade. WE have used BJU the past 2years and while it's good I'm annoyed with the fact that I still have to print other things to go with the lessons from the teacher CD. My dd can do math. not her favorite bu she can do it. BJU Mastery with plenty of review in the lessons and worksheets. She likes hands on stuff and does well with me working one on one with her. Not very independent worker still.

Singapore looks and sounds great but I guess I'm nervous! Would singapore work? Or should I look at something else? TIA for any help!
I'm not sure I can answer whether it will work for you. I think it could work for you, or for anyone. I can share some things about what Singapore will be like, and about what I see as Singapore strengths. Would that help?

- I think you'll like that the lessons are pretty short, and mostly just involve the textbook, which does not weigh 10 pounds.
- I think you'll like that the workbooks are usually fun and easy, done independently.
- I think that you'll like that the teaching part consists of simply presenting the textbook pages to your student, as if they were your teaching chalkboard. The textbook starts with very concrete pictures, then thought bubbles, and eventually gets to straight math symbols. You can go back and repeat, or reinforce with manipulatives, as you see a need.
- It might be disconcerting at first that your student places back a ways in Singapore, but with the short lessons it should be possible to get to 5B by the end of 6th grade.
- Singapore is not really mastery so much as building math skills and understanding. Because you understand addition, you learn to understand multiplication, and you go forward rather than stopping to review addition. Because you understand multiplication, you learn to understand 3 dimensional measurement, and again go forward rather than reviewing. Eventually you may revisit the topic, maybe in the next book, and go deeper, multiplying higher numbers or whatever. Some folks want specific topics reviewed and they do that (get out your old Singapore books, get a test prep book, get Singapore practice books, etc.). I didn't do that. Math topics all come up again, even into precalculus.
- All math studies will have bumps in the road. It doesn't mean the curriculum isn't working, but your student might need to stop and absorb for a while, to prevent brain implosion, at least that's what worked with my son ;) That's a good time to play games or use something else or review.
- I truly think Singapore teaches kids how to think about math, rather than to memorize plug-and-chug procedures. The textbook presents ways you can think about problems, such as separating out 18 into 10 and 8, so you can subtract in your head. You don't need to do it that way, but it's important to talk through the method while going over the textbook thought bubbles with your child. My very biased opinion is that when I watched elementary kids do standardized tests (required in Minnesota), the Singapore kids seemed to jump in and "figure it out" rather than sit there and hope to locate a memorized procedure in their brains.
- Singapore word problems are completely unique, and I feel they are a good preparation for algebra, in that the student thinks about what he's got, what he needs, and what the shortest way to that might be. They use a lot of real-life situations, such as a shop that gives different discounts over the course of time, or a container of water that has an object in it. You don't just pull out the two numbers and multiply them.

Julie, a Singapore fan :)
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Re: Singapore math or something else?

Unread post by asheslawson »

All math curriculums have their pros & cons. Julie has spelled out so well on Singapore - that I don't really need to add much.

But as far as printing additional materials - Singapore is inexpensive - and I only print worksheets off the internet if my son needs extra drill. I have just recently ordered an intensive practice book to add to his math, since sometimes that is just what I think he needs, a little more drill. We are very happy with Singapore - but it took some learning how to teach - I have no experience with other curriculums - but I don't feel like I'm strong in teaching math. I have used the HIG's to help with some math games to help some - but even those I mostly just use as an answer key, which is much cheaper if you buy another way. The textbooks are helpful in teaching more than anything else!
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Re: Singapore math or something else?

Unread post by Ohmomjacquie »

thanks ladies! I think we will go ahead and try singapore! After thinking about it and looking at other things I realized that all of mfw suggestions we've loved so far so I should trust them on this one as well
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