yvonneh wrote:I'm willing to try Singapore Math. My girls are currently in a Christian school which uses A Beka for math, but my oldest transferred there from public school halfway through 2nd grade. She has done okay in it, especially this year with times tables, but can't seem to do any word problems on her own, which is the application part of math. Does Singapore stress application of math facts vs. just drilling them? I've heard Singapore math is confusing? Incomplete ?

I've seen some other posts and heard a fellow homeschool mom here say Singapore doesn't drill the facts enough. And, we did work pretty hard to get her used to A Beka Arithmetic when she switched over from public school to private in 2nd grade, so maybe we will just stick with that.

Thoughts on all these would be helpful. Hoping to be able to actually see a textbook at our are expo before ordering...

Well, I'll chime in about Singapore success. I have a son in precalculus (through a college) and he was raised on Singapore. He is pretty fast and more than that, he understands what he's doing. Today we just bought our first calculator that cost more than $2 (woah, a lot more!), because he just hasn't needed one, he does most computation and conception quickly and easily, often in his head.

The thing is that Singapore is not an American program, but we "teachers" were raised on American math. My experience in public schools is that math facts were in the textbook, but the curriculum couldn't possibly predict the point of each student's mastery. I suppose some kids learn just as the American textbook outlines (I was probably one of those, maybe gratitude's child is as well), maybe just because they slogged thru 50 problems a day and eventually a bunch of them were memorized, except maybe the hard ones. Some didn't learn a thing by staring at workbook pages. Typically, teachers also sent math facts home to parents to practice for a year or 2, and then the class moved on. Some learned math facts at home (all my kids did) and despised math because of the monotony (this was the kind of kid my youngest was, he would have learned them at home and been bored).

In Singapore, as in most Asian countries, students excel at math. They test far above Americans, both in computation speed and in math understanding, typically evaluated by the TIMSS test (Wikipedia charts yearly national rankings, if you'd like to see the national comparisons). That impressive record is why Singapore Primary Math became popular in America. But success doesn't come simply from textbooks. I've tutored Asian kids and, depending on the country, their children start learning math facts at 3-5 years old, usually through math centers which expect the children to spend 20 minutes on math at home or in their center, 7 days a week, outside of their regular schoolwork. I've heard that Singapore classroom teachers also review with chants and such, but really there is not so much of a need to spend classroom time on math facts that the students already know. I'm not a big fan of starting math facts at ages 3-5, but I do think they need to be a focus at some point.

Anyways... My point is that Singapore parents almost ALL do math facts on their own, and American parents who switch to Singapore Math might not realize that part of the lack of success in EITHER program (their disappointment with American math as well as their trouble transitioning to Singapore math) can be neglecting math facts. In Singapore, parents feel it is their responsibility. In American, often parents feel it is the teacher's or the textbook's responsibility. And I've seen LOTS of American children never master their math facts using 13 years of American math, homeschooled or not, so really it isn't unique to Singapore math users.

As far as Singapore seeming to need extra materials... When we tried Saxon 3rd grade early on, our teacher's manual was hundreds and hundreds of pages, there were extra teaching materials, student books, a manipulatives kit and I think flashcards were in there, too. So not that different than Singapore in terms of amounts of extra materials *available to you* within the program. And my experience in public school was that ps teachers use lots of extra teaching materials *outside* the program - many extra worksheets, manipulative "centers," and most importantly they send letters home instructing parents to teach math facts at home, how to make your own flashcards, etc. I just had a public school teacher purchase math games from me for her public school classroom. So not all that different than Singapore in terms of using materials beyond the publisher's program to teach math facts and give extra reinforcement.

I've sometimes thought that MFW ought to lay out a specific plan for doing math facts. I mean, I like the new flashcards they've produced and the lesson plans and especially the ECC grid slots for drill, but it's easy to slip out of mind. On the other hand, I've used a ton of different math facts materials and I think each child responds differently, learns differently, enjoys different things, goes at different rates. So come to think of it, I actually probably

wouldn't use a planned-out math facts program LOL, because I would tailor it to my child. But I do think that learning math facts is something that needs to be more of a focus than it sometimes is, both in our public schools and our homeschools. I was glad it was on the grid when we started MFW (with ECC), and maybe because of that, I continued to put it on my math box in later years, through 7th or 8th grade. I used a ton of different things, from workbooks to games. There are some good ideas posted on the board:

http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1141 and more

http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=8429
Just another thought to add to your poor spinning brain,

Julie